ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Keyboard - Piano chords, music theory

Updated on August 21, 2014

Improving chords

We have looked at major and minor chords in the key of C in the previous article. Now we are going to add some notes to create 4-note chords, which sound much, much better and more interesting when you use them together in a song.

Intervals - this is a way of measuring the distance between different notes, and should make music theory easy to understand. It's not here to make things more complicated.

Our C chord is spelt C,E,G - but we could give each note a number, relating to its position in the major scale. The C chord would be 1, 3, 5.

More chords - Maj 7, 7, minor

More Chords

If you play a C chord and add a B note, it gives you C maj 7, a four-note chord - Shown in red. Change the top note to B flat, and you have C7. Shown in a strange violet colour. Take that note down one more step and you have C6 (not shown) So C6 just means " C chord with the note A added" - A being the sixth note up in the C major scale.

Minor chords

If we take a C chord, C,E,G or 1,3,5 in intervals and flatten the third, we end up with a minor chord, C minor. This is shown in green. The formula for this chord is 1, b3, 5. So to change any major chord to minor, just flatten the 3rd. Conversely, to make any minor chord into a major chord, move the 3rd back up one step, or one semitone.

With all these chords play a low C with your left hand to hear the full chord properly.

F maj 7

You can apply these basic rules to all other chords.

F maj7 would be spelt F A C E, left to right.

G7 would be G B D F.

Am7 would be A C E G

Dm7 would be D F A C

Try using these chords in combination with the other chords in C - a very common chord progression is

C Am7 F G7

Caution!

7 chords and major 7 chords are different animals. The top note changes by a semitone, one step.

So G maj7 uses F sharp, rather than F

C maj7 uses B rather than B flat.

Here's a recap: the formula for a

major chord = 1, 3, 5

minor = 1, b3, 5

maj 7 = 1, 3, 5, 7

7th= 1, 3, 5, b7

6th = 1, 3, 5, 6

Other instruments

All this info works for any instrument - the same rules can be used to construct guitar chords, or work out vocal harmonies, or arrange sax parts.

Guitar players in particular will find that this material will help them understand guitar songs better.

Exercise

Practice playing the chords in C, with the bass note for each chord in your left hand. Play all the notes together, then as an arpeggio. Arpeggio is Italian for "like a harp", playing the notes of a chord one at a time instead of all together.

C ///  Dm ///  Em ///  F ///  G ///  Am ///  B dim /// C

Now do the same with the four-note chords with added sevenths:

Cmaj7  /// Dm7  /// Em7  /// Fmaj7  /// G7  // Am7  /// Bm7b5  /// Cmaj7

(The slashes are just there to separate the chords)

The point of this exercise is that all popular songs in many different styles will be harmonised with this list of seven chords. When you learn a new song, you will not be learning everything from scratch, but will already know 90% of the chords that may be used.

More advanced chords

Why do we use more advanced chords instead of the basic major and minor chords?

Generally, adding notes will make the sound of your playing/songwriting more full and more interesting. Chord inversions will also help, in that you can create better voice leading. This is the principle of moving the least number of notes possible in a transition from one chord to the next, making it smooth and predictable in a good way.

For instance, C could be voiced as G,C,E left to right instead of the C,E,G form. To change from C to Am7, just change the left hand bass note from C to A.

C9 is a C7 chord as shown above, with a D note added - only a small change, but generally a big improvement on the basic C7 chord.

Instead of G7, try using F/G - an F chord over a G bass note. This will resolve to C maj7.

You can discover a lot of these things by trial and error, just experimenting with different bass notes etc.

Intervals on piano keyboard

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      6 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      If you give me a list of chords I'll do a hub on them.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)