How to Play Major Chords on Piano Sheet Music

major chords piano sheet music

Chords are essential building blocks of music. They create an harmonic framework for melody and lyrics.

Major chords are triads composed of three notes; their root note being known as the chord root while the remaining two notes represent third and fifth notes from their scale respectively.

All major chords follow the same interval pattern from their roots to the top – four half steps – which accounts for their similar sound.


Root notes of chords serve as their basis, serving as the cornerstone to build on. Each chord takes its name from this root note; for instance, C major would consist of C – E – G notes.

Major chords follow an exact formula; their third is always 4 half steps/semitones away from its root while the fifth lies 3 1/2 steps/semitones from that third note; this applies for all major chords regardless of whether their root changes.

Flatted notes within major chords are generally known as suspended notes; however, some musicians prefer using the convention of naming the chord according to its key of appearance in a song with additional descriptions such as rootless or suspended added. For example, Dsus2 would be written out as D – F# – A in this instance. This method of notation is particularly prevalent among jazz and pop musicians.


The third of a chord determines its major/minor classification; major chords feature major thirds while minor ones contain minor ones. Furthermore, its position determines how high or low its rest of chord will be pitched.

Major chords feature five notes, starting with the third note which is one full step higher. From there, each successive note in a major chord can either increase or decrease by moving away from this fifth note – this allows users to augment or diminish its sound according to how close or far it lies from it.

Building minor and augmented chords involves adding intervals to major ones. For instance, to form a D major chord you would first count up four half steps from F# then three steps more from A. This gives you your D minor chord! There are other ways of giving piano chords more character; adding sixths (C6) may add extra flavor or is sometimes known as major six-fourth chord.


As you progress through major chord progressions, a pattern will emerge: each chord contains three notes – its root note, third interval note and fifth interval note. These can be combined in different arrangements until one is named for its root note – for instance all 1, 4 and 5 chords are C major, as their roots note is C and the chord sounds complete when played alongside two other tones.

Find all of these chords in the PWJ Piano Chord Chart, which is also an effective way of exploring Circle of Fifths theory and comprehending chord progressions used in your favorite songs.

There are also less-common chord types. One is the suspended chord (written as sus or with a number 4 for example F sus), which replaces the third note with fourth instead. Another less-used type is major sixth chord, often written as maj 6 or maj/add9.


Major seventh chords add depth and warmth to three note chords, adding richness and texture. They are commonly found in romantic piano music but also boast moody qualities used increasingly often in modern music.

A seventh chord can be created by adding one tone to any triad and can take many forms; these may include C7, Cmaj7 or any number that contains seven within its scale.

The major seventh is an extremely versatile chord found throughout all kinds of piano music, from popular tunes like Coldplay’s A Sky Full of Stars. Also referred to as suspension chord or dominant seventh, this chord can be constructed by counting up four half steps from D to F# and three additional half steps back down to A.

Minor and dominant ninth chords are two less-common variants of seventh chords that can also be useful in piano music.