Learning Major and Minor Chords on Piano

As you explore piano chords, it is crucial that you gain knowledge of major and minor chords; these will be two of the most prevalent types you need to master.

Minor chords are used in music to evoke sadness or melancholy and add drama and tension.


Triads are three-note chords found in every major and minor key. Triads consist of two types of thirds (major or minor) which can be distinguished from each other according to their qualities (see Chord Qualities chapter). Major triads are denoted with capital letters which correspond with their chord root, while minor ones feature lowercase “mi” after their letter; diminished ones feature a superscript circle (“o”) while augmented ones display an + sign (+).

Triads can be created on any scale you know well by layering a root, third and fifth together – it all comes down to finding an interval that’s either major or minor between third and fifth notes; similarly, the position of the chord depends on which of its chord members sound in its bass register; when root sounds here then that indicates root position while third/fifth sounds mean first inversion respectively.

Minor 7ths

Add variety to your minor piano chords by trying minor 7ths – these chords are formed by adding a minor seventh interval to the root of a major triad, for example the A minor chord would consist of notes A, C and E; to convert this to a minor 7th chord simply lower note C (often written as Cm). This type of minor 7th can often be written as Am.

Knowing the differences between major and minor chords is an integral part of learning piano. Each chord type can add its own particular mood or tension to songs, and having both in an arrangement adds dimension. You can use your knowledge of these to identify chords in popular tunes more easily – for instance “Let It Be” by The Beatles opens with a C major chord!


Chords are combinations of notes played together and used to add tension or an atmospheric feel in songs, or can add depth and uniqueness to music.

When learning chords, it’s essential to study both major and minor chords as these are among the most frequently encountered types. Furthermore, learning how to recognize various kinds of chords along with their symbols will prove immensely helpful in your repertoire.

Recognizing chords is key for understanding music. A quick way to tell whether a chord is major or minor is by counting the semitones between its first and fifth notes – in case it’s major the notes will match up perfectly; otherwise if minor both will have opposite results.

Another way of distinguishing is through third interval. If it falls below major third, that indicates a minor chord.


Once you’ve mastered all of the major and minor chords, and gained some knowledge about minor ones too, it is time to try a few exercises that will build upon your abilities and give an idea of how they should be played in different positions.

Turning most major chords into minor ones can be accomplished by lowering the third note a half step below that of its major equivalent. This occurs due to minor third interval being smaller.

Practice playing minor piano chords using only your left hand at first and then switching back and forth between hands; this will train both your fingers and brain to work quickly to form chords quickly.

Another variation for these exercises involves moving your hands a few octaves apart. This will prevent you from looking at both hands simultaneously when they play and will train them to work independently from one another, training muscles to work independently of each other while at the same time providing you with a great opportunity to practice staccato and slurs of various lengths.