Learning major and minor chords on the piano may take time, but they’re really not too complex – all it comes down to are intervals.
A major chord is composed of three notes that are stacked atop each other, separated by an interval.
Root notes of chords serve as the building blocks upon which other notes in a chord are built, providing it with its identity and tonal quality.
No matter how the chord is arranged (or inverted) or whether another tone functions as its bass note, its nature remains constant. For instance, a C major triad can be analysed both as a C major chord and C minor seventh chord in first inversion.
Most chords are formed by layering intervals of a third one upon another, creating the lowest note as its Root note and sometimes serving as the base note in other inversions; therefore, counting half-steps from your Root note is a great way to learn to identify different inversions of chords on the fretboard.
Next we’ll consider the major third, which represents two whole steps on either a staff or keyboard.
Major chords are generally easy to learn because their basic structure and sound remain constant. To begin learning a D major chord, for instance, just count four half steps up from D to F-sharp, then three more up from F-sharp to A and you will have created the D, F-sharp, and A major chords.
For a minor chord, simply increase the third tone by half step – for instance D minor would consist of D, E-flat and A. This rule holds true across all keys; sometimes there may be an added number such as Cmaj7 which indicates adding instead a major seventh chord instead.
Major chords all contain a fifth note that completes them all, known as the tonic tone in whatever scale or mode is being used. The other two notes will represent third and fourth tones of that scale or mode – always separated by the same number of half steps so we refer to these intervals as major intervals.
Major chords produce an upbeat and positive sound; on the other hand, minor chords have more somber tones. A minor chord uses all of the same intervals as its major counterpart but with one small change: instead of having its second interval as major interval, instead it becomes minor interval. This switch switches the sound from major to minor.
To create a minor chord, the third note should be lowered by one half step from its major equivalent; this form of deviation is known as a flatted minor third interval or minor third interval.
Minor triads, like their major counterparts, consist of three notes strung together – but what distinguishes them is how their intervals are created.
Intervals may have either major or minor qualities; only intervals second, third, sixth and seventh in frequency have major qualities. Intervals first through fifth use a “perfect” interval without sharps or flats involved.
Major chords typically produce cheerful sounds and are easy to play, while minor chords have more somber or melancholic tones that may require learning both types. Therefore, it is crucial that you familiarize yourself with both styles so you can experiment with various combinations until finding what resonates best for you.
Minor chords are somber-sounding piano chords with similar basic structures to major chords, including three basic keyboard notes: root note, major third and perfect fifth.
Minor chords differ from major ones by having a middle note a half step below its respective third note, and this difference alone allows them to transform from major triads into minor ones.
Are You Wanting to Form a C Minor Chord? Start from Your Root Note of C and count up two half steps until the major third (E), then one half step more until reaching perfect fifth G (pronounced Gu) which makes a C minor chord – an easy and very common piano chord!