Major Chords in Piano

Major chords are the building blocks of all piano chords. Consisting of root, 3rd and fifth notes from a major scale, these chords represent their core function perfectly.

To form a major chord, place your right thumb on the lower note, middle finger on the next note up and pinky on the top note. Now count four keys right from you until you find the root note of your chord.

Root Note

Root Note (in music terms) – the lowest note in any chord; upon which all other notes in it are constructed.

An example of a C major chord is when its root note, or tonic note, is C.

If a chord contains an E as its root, it is considered minor chord. Conversely, if its root is G it becomes seventh chord (known as C maj 7).

An easy way to identify a chord’s root note is to glance at its first letter. This works for all chord types – major, minor, diminished and augmented – enabling you to avoid playing incorrect notes or picking up bad habits. Our Chord Chart makes finding root notes much simpler – download it free here to access this useful memory aid that color codes major chords so you can easily identify whether they’re major, minor, diminished or augmented chords!

Third Note

The third note in a chord determines its major or minor identity by way of its interval from its root; major thirds span four staff positions while minor ones only two. Understanding these two intervals is important when moving from key to key as they may need to adjust from being either diminished fifths or augmented fifths when making changes that alter key changes.

For a major chord, its third note can typically be located by counting up four keys right of its root – including black keys – as each chord has its own key signature and scale. From there, its fifth note can usually be located by counting three additional keys upwards – this makes up what is known as a major triad and counting up an additional three notes will create what’s known as a major seventh chord.

Fifth Note

Chords have the power to transform a song, from creating structure, melody and mood through to playing with different sounds ranging from joyful and lively to melancholic and sad.

Intervals are distances between notes that define chord types. For instance, an interval from C to E is known as a major third, but if we raise it by just one semitone to C flat (called minor second) then it becomes minor second.

E and G form an interval known as a perfect fifth in music, the only interval that can be described with both number and letter names; other intervals have their equivalents enharmonic equivalents such as B and F or D and C#.


Chord inversions are an effective way of adding variation and variety to your piano playing. When inverting a chord, all it requires is rearranging its notes within it.

Inversions can help minimize hand movement on the keyboard, making chord changes smoother for example between C Major and F Major which requires significant hand movement from one position to the next. By employing second inversion chords in these instances, transition will become smoother.

For most inversions we will cover, you should use the 1-3-5 fingering – your thumb on D, middle finger on F# and pinky on A. For our first inversion however, the fingering must change slightly by using your index finger (second finger) instead of middle finger to maintain comfortable chord fingering.