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An Introduction to Major Chords

There are a number of major chords that can be taught. Let’s stick to the basics. We will cover triads (three-note chords) and a diminished and dominant seventh chord, all centering around our anchor note, middle C.

Let's take a look :


major chords

Click on the image above for a larger version.

 Let's listen to a C major chord. This is the right hand only.

  Here is the left hand.

In most beginner exercises, it is safe to associate the treble clef with the right hand and the bass clef with the left hand.

Try playing the above triads one hand at a time. Basically, the first right hand triad has a root (the C), a third (the E) and a fifth (the G). If the third is on the bottom, we call this triad a first inversion triad.

If the fifth is on the bottom, we call this a second inversion triad. First and second inversion triads are basically root position triads flipped around. They serve to give us more variety in our melodic accompaniment. Major triads tend to have a happy, bright sound.

If you are having trouble finding the C Major triad and its inversions, use the following pictured chart to help you out:


cmajor triad

 Click on the image above for a larger version.

Here are some useful beginner piano terms: semitone, sharp (#) and flat (b). Have a look at the figure below and see if any of these terms are clarified by it.   




Basically, a semitone is the smallest step between two notes on a piano. It is also known as a "half step". A sharp raises a note to the right by a semitone and a flat lowers a note to the left by a semitone. When calculating a major root position triad, the distance between the bottom and the middle note is four semitones. The distance between the middle and the top note is three semitones. Now you have the POWER to figure out any major root position triad starting on any piano note. Just remember 4-3 (semitone distances); and please be careful how you use all of that POWER!


Let's go on back to the piano chords main page for some more information, or right back to the main pianolessons101 page.

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