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The C Major Chord

Updated on October 18, 2013

The very first chord to learn

The C Major is the the root or first chord of the C scale, the easiest scale to learn. One the piano It is basically all the white keys, C, D, E, F, G, A and B. This is the easiest scale for learning your fingering and runs up and down the keyboard. It is very difficult to go wrong with improvisation on the C scale in terms of tone since none of the black keys are used, however they can be used as passing notes but a phrase or melody should never end on a black note unless you are changing the key.

The chord (triad) consists of the keys C, E and G which follow 1,3 and 5. For a deeper jazzier sound people may add a 7th "B" or even a 9th "D" Key.

Jazz musicians may also throw in a black key here and there, this is referred to a as "passing" note. It can be part of a phrase but a phrase should never end on a passing note, otherwise it will sound strange and out of key.

The C Major Scale

The C Major chord is the beginning or the root of the C Major scale. See below:

  1. C Maj - C E G
  2. D Min - D F A
  3. E Min - E G B
  4. F Maj - F A C
  5. G Dom/7 - G B D
  6. A Min - A C E
  7. B Dim (or Diminished) - B D F

As you can see above it is a very simple pattern to follow and requires almost no memorizing. The standard sequence to learn is the 2-5-1, which in this case would be D min, G dom, C maj. Also try other variations, using the left hand for chords and right hand for melody.

For a more jazzy sound add the 7th or 9th to the above chords.


The above picture represents the C Major chord. The below picture is the same chord but using a power type chord. The blue represents the left hand while the green is the right fingering. This adds some depth to the chords. Since your right hand is already in the chord position you can easily make up some melody voicing patterns. Simple voicing always sounds impressive to non piano/keyboard players. Not too many songs are solely in the key of C but it's a good place to start and get familiar with the piano. Also power type chords are very useful for playing with singers. Playing random melodies can very much interfere with singers or other instruments so this is where power chords come in.

Incidentally, the C minor chords is simply moving the 3rd key (E) half a step down to Eb. so the minor would be C, Eb and G.

Compositions in C major

  • Johann Sebastian Bach - Toccata, Adagio and Fugue
  • Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No.1 , Piano Sonato no. 23
  • Georges Bizet - Symphony in C


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