Major Chords in Piano

Chords are an essential component of playing piano and can be found in virtually all types of music ranging from popular hits to classical pieces.

Major chords consist of three notes called triads. Triads consist of the first, third, and fifth notes in any given scale.

To create a major chord, begin with the root note and add tones from the scale until a major chord has formed.

Root Note

Root notes are the lowest tones of any chord, usually the first note listed in its symbol. Understanding root notes helps locate notes on your fretboard quickly while providing clues as to whether playing an open position (with bass string note 1) or inversion chord is best.

Sometimes the “name of the chord” doesn’t just correspond to its root note, requiring you to decipher its meaning using symbols such as Fm/C or i2, iv6, iiii or vi64. If both roots are identical then it should be straightforward determining which note represents its low note.

Recognizing root notes in various inversions of major scale chords will help develop an intuitive understanding of scale patterns across your fretboard.

Third Interval

The third interval is the largest major interval, covering four semitones and consisting of two half steps as shown on a staff or keyboard. Because this interval spans four semitones and can easily be identified on staff as you move through chords, scales and progressions, it makes identification simpler than its peers.

To calculate an interval, start with the tonic note of a major scale and work backward. First determine its size (by counting lines and spaces on treble or bass clef), followed by quality – whether perfect, major, or minor.

Intervals can also be reduced or expanded by moving one half step lower or up, creating shorter or larger intervals. For instance, F to C becomes a major third when contracted to form C to E which forms a diminished fifth interval.

Fifth Interval

The 5th interval comprises two notes that are 7 semitones apart and can evoke feelings of cheerfulness, stability, power, and home.

Intervals may be divided into major, minor or diminished intervals. When an interval falls below perfect (defined as being smaller than perfectly), this is known as diminished. Conversely, when larger than perfect (called augmented), its quality will depend on how many lines and spaces across treble and bass clefs (or their equivalent in anharmonic music notation) an interval covers.

Any interval that falls one half step short of being perfect becomes a diminished interval, such as if an F-C interval were to contract to E-C and become diminished; this also converts major intervals into minor ones and helps explain why many major chords do not feature perfectly taut intervals.

Major Third

A major third is an interval that’s four semitones apart between two notes, and can evoke feelings of happiness, optimism and confidence; an iconic example being “Happy Birthday”.

One of the most consonant intervals, along with unison, octave, perfect fifth and major seventh. Intervals may be classified as major, minor or diminished.

Color Score’s free Color Score app makes learning major and minor third intervals much simpler, helping you develop chords (triads) on piano or keyboard and expanding your sense of keyboard geography or orientation. By practicing these patterns under your fingertips, playing piano will become much simpler; all 12 Major keys are covered.

Major Fifth

The fifth interval is one of only two that always sound perfect – along with its companion the fourth. Furthermore, it is one of the shortest white keys, covering only two whole steps from B to F.

Minor intervals are smaller than perfect, and major intervals larger. One half step larger than a perfect fifth is known as an augmented fifth and might be marked as either “b5” or Caug add5.

Since it is such an audible and predictable interval, the fifth is used to construct chords that sound heavy and dynamic. You can stack multiple fifths together creating quintal harmonies – popular in Baroque music. Thanks to our chromatic scale we can play these quintal harmonies across keys by counting tones from root note to fifth note and back again.