How to Play Major Chords on Piano

Major chords produce a vibrant, happy sound and make up most chord progressions in songs.

A major chord consists of three notes arranged as a triad: its root note, major third note and perfect fifth. Sometimes you may see numbers following its root such as C maj 7.

This indicates the need to add another note above the basic chord, known as a seventh tone.

Root Note

Root notes (sometimes called tonic notes) are the starting points for chords. A C major chord includes three notes: C (the root note), E (major third) and G (perfect fifth).

Secondary or tertiary notes serve as support and add color to a chord’s root note; for instance, in one song this might include starting out on a C major chord before shifting over to an A minor chord for more melancholy effects.

As it relates to chord inversion, it’s crucial that one understands that the root note of any chord always represents its lowest note regardless of inversion. For instance, G major can be played either second inverted (where note one major third above root (G) would be considered lowest note), or third inverted where note one major third above root would become lowest note – both options produce the same root note (G).

Third Note

The third note, or fifth interval, adds fullness and vibrancy to a chord, also known as its root note.

Remember that all major chords feature a major third even in their inversions; therefore C-E is always considered a major chord.

Half steps measure the distance between any two notes adjacent on a piano keyboard (white or black keys), making up one perfect fifth interval. So in major chords this distance corresponds with their first two notes being close together on either end.

The major second is another interval commonly found within major chords and represents an interval that lies four perfect fourths above the root note.

When three different notes come together to form a chord called a triad, it creates a chord known as a chord triad. Chords can generally be classified either major or minor; major chords tend to feel brighter and happier while minor chords feel darker and more troublesome.

Fifth Note

When playing major chords on piano, the fifth note can often be found two to three half steps above the root – creating what’s known as an augmented fifth or perfect fifth note. It can also be found in seventh chords which serve as transitions between sections of songs.

This interval is an integral component of diminished chords, as can be seen when looking at the circle of fifths on a piano keyboard. It is frequently heard in jazz and rock music but can also be found in Classical pieces.

Understand the various chords on the piano can take some practice, but the effort will pay off in dividends. Learning basic chords provides a firm foundation for understanding most Western music’s structure; then you can move on to learning minor, augmented and diminished chords – essential building blocks of most songs and pieces of music you hear every day!


A chord is a group of notes used to harmonize melodies or back up rhythm. Chords are one of the core building blocks of music and knowing how to play chords can open up a world of musical possibilities.

So far, we’ve learned three-note chords called major triads, as they contain all major scale degrees. But chords can also be minor, diminished or augmented; to identify their quality simply look at its letter name and number symbols used for scale degrees.

C triad is considered major because its major third and perfect fifth are major; other scale degrees also contain major thirds and fifths that will always make up major triads, though do (1) will always result in major chords regardless of key.