Learning major chords on piano is an excellent way to broaden your musical knowledge and expand your chord repertoire. Chords consist of what’s known as a triad, comprising the first, third and fifth notes from a scale.
Example: C is the root of a C major chord and E four half steps above this note (a major 3rd). This pattern applies across every major scale.
Root notes of chords give it their names; for instance, C major chords contain C as their root note – this note serves as the foundation for all other notes within it and thus acts as its base-note.
All major chords consist of three tones or intervals known as Root, Third and Fifth to form their tonality. You may add additional tones as desired; however, beginning with the root is necessary in establishing tonality of any major chord.
There are various kinds of chords, but two of the most prevalent are major and minor chords. Major chords are commonly known as “happy” chords and constructed using notes C, E and G from the major scale; minor chords can be created by flattening out one note of a major triad so it becomes F, B-flat C instead. Another popular major chord type is known as Major seventh or M7 chord.
To achieve optimal piano playing skills it is useful to also study its minor counterpart. A major chord has its counterpart; minor chords represent its opposites.
A third chord consists of the first, third and fifth notes from any major scale. It is a simple major triad which can be assembled in various ways. If you are having difficulty distinguishing between major and minor chords, try playing both simultaneously; this will help your ears adjust to hearing the difference and will also make identifying them when improvising or writing songs easier!
To build a major chord, all that’s required is three intervals – root, third and fifth. These can be found by consulting either a scale or key signature. Chords consist of at least three notes that can be played in any rhythm; when playing major 7th chords however, all you need is three chords (root, major third, perfect fifth; C, E & G in this example) plus other variations as triads are played over them all.
Since the third and fifth notes of a major scale are always the same, chords built from these tones will always be known as major triads containing three tones.
So for a C major chord, your thumb goes on D, your middle finger on E and your ring finger on G. To get there on a keyboard keyboard you have to count half steps up four, three then one in order to reach G (the fifth note of the key).
Add more tones to a major chord to make it sound fuller and stronger, usually indicated with an “n” after its symbol. Doing this produces what’s known as a seventh chord (e.g. C7) which sounds very similar to major triads – sometimes written maj7 or CM7 depending on your tuning.
Triads form the base for most chords, including complicated ones like sevenths, ninths and elevenths. Complex chords like sevenths can even be built from major or minor triads! As such, it is essential that you spend sufficient time familiarizing yourself with these basic sounds; by spending enough time around them chords that seem difficult will become second nature to hear or figure out.
Each triad possesses certain properties corresponding to scale degrees, and can be classified as major, minor, diminished or augmented depending on its position in a chord diagram. These qualities may also be represented with abbreviations.
As the starting point, to identify a triad, begin by studying its root. Draw a shape that includes this root and add any accidentals from its key signature. Next, draw notes a third and fifth above it (imagine drawing a snowperson). These will define its quality; once these have been determined you can move them up or down neck while maintaining their basic characteristics.