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Learn How To Play Piano Chords For Free

Updated on December 17, 2015
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Introduction

Piano chords are the backbone of anything musical related, and it is a huge help when learning a song of any kind as it will bring you more understanding of how the melody works into the chords.

In this hub, I will be showing you the basic foundation of chords, all of the major and minor chords for each key, and other variations of chords to add some flair to your music.

I will be writing this as though you have a little understanding of music already, and that you are ready for the next step. If you're not though, you can learn how to play the piano for free in another hub that I wrote to teach the basic foundation of the piano.

Lesson One - Chord Foundation

Chords are three or more notes played at the same time to make a harmonized sound.

The foundation of the chord is typically in intervals of 3. Another way to look at it is this: you will almost always be skipping a note. For example, if I were to play an A note, the notes that follow would be C and then E. I skipped B and D in this chord. Now it is much more complicated than that, but you get the jest of it. I'll explain more on the way.

The way you will want to ideally play these chords is to use your thumb, middle, and pinky finger. This will cause your hand to naturally fall into the perfect hand position to play piano overall. I, along with every other music teacher, will teach our students to play this way to help them gain more dexterity as they learn how to play. Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

Below is a picture that represents what a C chord looks like for a more accurate understanding.

Example of a C Major Chord
Example of a C Major Chord

Lesson Two - Two Different Types Of Chords

Now that we have the basic understanding of how chords work, it's time to discuss the different types of chords that are out there. Most importantly, I will be telling you of two different chord types: Major and Minor.

Major Chords tend to have a happier tone. It is made up of 4 half steps followed by another 3 half steps.

Major chords have no other indication of what to play except by the note, itself. If I were to write just the note "G", then that would imply that you would play a G Major Chord. Because the major chord is the most common chord to play, it is a no-brainer to make that the simplest one to write.

There are very few occasions when you will see someone write a major chord with a capitol "M" beside the note. The capital "M" indicates that it is a major chord. For example: GM would also stand for a G Major Chord.

Minor Chords tend to have a sadder tone. It is made up of 3 half steps followed by another 4 half steps.

Minor chords are indicated by a lowercase "m" beside the note. If I were to write a G minor chord, then I would write it as a "Gm". This is to differentiate the major and minor chords when playing a song. You will notice an entirely different sound if you play the wrong major or minor chord in a song. Trust me!

These are the two we are going to focus on for this hub. These will cover every song that you would want to play. There is a small (very small) percentage of songs that you may not be able to play with the chords that I will provide, but they are easily learnable if you need to find them.

With all that said, here we go.

How Each Key Works

I will be posting all of the chords for each key available, and there are quite a few, so it'll be short and sweet. I will be discussing how they will all work on here beforehand so you know what to expect.

In each key, there are a total of 6 chords that you can play. 3 are major chords and 3 are minor chords. I will start with the key that has the least amount of sharps in the key and work my way towards the higher sharps, and the same with the flat keys.

I will write out the key, chords, and the notes that make up those chords. To create the sound of the chord correctly, you will need to play the notes given at the same time. This will result in the sound that you want to hear.

Below are the keys that have sharps in their scale. As we progress in these next few keys, you will see that we are adding more and more sharps to the keys. This is a part of the scales, and will improve your knowledge of the chords.

Key of C

Chord
Notes
C
C, E, G
Dm
D, F, A
Em
E, G, B
F
F, A, C
G
G, B, D
Am
A, C, E

Key of G

Chord
Notes
G
G, B, D
Am
A, C, E
Bm
B, D, F
C
C, E, G
D
D, F#, A
Em
E, G, B

Piano Learning Tips

Learning all of these chords can be a hassle if you don't know what do to or how to do it. Let me give you a few pointers to help you on your journey.

Pick the first key and get the chords all figured out to where it doesn't take too much time to hit all of the chords in the key. From there, pick out a song that is in the same key as the one you just learned. This will allow you to apply it to what you are working on, and I've found that application is the best teacher in most cases.

It should also be known to you that if you follow the exact sequence of keys that I provided in this hub, you will only be learning 2 new chords every key you move on to. It allows your brain to not be overwhelmed with new chords. Sounds good in my books!

Key of D

Chord
Notes
D
D, F#, A
Em
E, G, B
F#m
F#, A, C#
G
G, B, D
A
A, C#, E
Bm
B, D, F#

Key of A

Chord
Notes
A
A, C#, E
Bm
B, D, F#
C#m
C#, E, G#
D
D, F#, A
E
E, G#, B
F#m
F#, A, C#

Key of E

Chord
Notes
E
E, G#, B
F#m
F#, A, C#
G#m
G#, B, D#
A
A, C#, E
B
B, D#, F#
C#m
C#, E, G#

Key of B

Chord
Notes
B
B, D#, F#
C#m
C#, E, G#
D#m
D#, F#, A#
E
E, G#, B
F#
F#, A#, C#
G#m
G#, B, D#

Key of F#

Chord
Notes
F#
F#, A#, C#
G#m
G#, B, D#
A#m
A#, C#, E#(aka F)
B
B, D#, F#
C#
C#, E#(aka F), G#
D#m
D#, F#, A#
Source

Keys With Sharp Notes Recap

Those are all of the keys that have a sharp in the chords and scales. Congratulations!

If you noticed on the key of F#, there was an E# which I also wrote to be also an F, it is because they are both the same note. When writing with so many sharps, it is easier to call it an E# because having F and F# in the same scale or key can be very confusing when playing.

A sharp doesn't always have to land on a black key. I could say B# and it would imply that I should play a C note. It's not ideal, but it is necessary at times. Just go with the flow, and you'll be good!

Keys With Flat Notes

These keys will be very similar to the sharps, but going down instead of up. As I did with the last set, I will start with the key that has the least amount of flats and work my way to the most flats. There will not be as many in this section, so you won't have as much to learn.

Now with that said, on with the show!

Key of F

Chord
Notes
F
F, A, C
Gm
G, Bb, D
Am
A, C, E
Bb
Bb, D, F
C
C, E, G
Dm
D, F, A

Key of Bb

Chord
Notes
Bb
Bb, D, F
Cm
C, Eb, G
Dm
D, F, A
Eb
Eb, G, Bb
F
F, A, C
Gm
G, Bb, D

Key of Eb

Chord
Notes
Eb
Eb, G, Bb
Fm
F, Ab, C
Gm
G, Bb, D
Ab
Ab, C, Eb
Bb
Bb, D, F
Cm
C, Eb, G

Key of Ab

Chord
Notes
Ab
Ab, C, Eb
Bbm
Bb, Db, F
Cm
C, Eb, G
Db
Db, F, Ab
Eb
Eb, G, Bb
Fm
F, Ab, C

Key of Db

Chord
Notes
Db
Db, F, Ab
Ebm
Eb, Gb, Bb
Fm
F, Ab, C
Gb
Gb, Bb, Db
Ab
Ab, C, Eb
Bbm
Bb, Db, F

Key of Gb

Chord
Notes
Gb
Gb, Bb, Db
Abm
Ab, Cb(akaB), Eb
Bbm
Bb, Db, F
Cb(aka B)
Cb(aka B), Eb, Gb
Db
Db, F, Ab
Ebm
Eb, Gb, Bb
Source

Keys With Flat Notes Recap

Just like the F# in the sharp keys, the key of Gb also had some similar characteristics with the Cb actually being the B note. It all works better that way in the scale rather than having a Bb and a B in the same key. It looks too awkward and it would be easier to understand the way they teach it now.

Another fun fact is that the key of Gb is the same as F#. The difference is how it is written. Both work, but you may have a song in one key or another, and it is good to know both if there ever is that possibility.

If there is anything that didn't make sense to you in this section, just let me know in the comments below and I would be happy to help explain it in more detail to you.

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