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com – Chords 101 - Introductory Course
©2008 by FastPianoLessons.com
com Chords 101 By Chris Marx .FastPianoLessons.com – Chords 101 .Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons.
C to C# (White to Black) B to C (White to White) Whole Steps Whole steps are the second smallest interval on the piano. A half step is the distance between two neighboring notes. Learning how to count half steps will be key to finding chords on the piano. In other words.FastPianoLessons. whole steps skip one note.Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons. They can be white or black notes.com WHOLE STEPS AND HALF STEPS Half Steps Half steps are the smallest interval or unit of measure on the piano. NOTE: A whole step is made up of two half steps back to back. See the examples below: C to D (White to White) Eb to F (White to Black) C# to D# (Black to Black) .com – Chords 101 . Make sure to count both white and black notes. NOTE: A half step is the distance between two neighboring notes.
Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons. LABELING THE CHORDS On sheet music especially in fake books there are abbreviated symbols for the major and minor chords. middle and pinky to play it in either hand. middle and pinky to play it in either hand. The symbol for a C major chord is usually just a capitol C.FastPianoLessons. Now play this chord: This chord is called CMINOR. The symbol for a C minor chord is either Cmi. C MAJOR: “C” or “Cma” or “Cmaj” C MINOR: “Cmin” or “Cmi” or “C-” . Cmin or C-. These abbreviations apply to all the chords. All we did was change one note and the effect was huge! Play both chords again. This is all the publisher’s preference really and the various spellings of the symbols do not have different meanings. and the minor chords have a sad sound.com – Chords 101 . You’ll start to realize that you’ll begin to associate imagery with each chord. The major chords are happier sounding. Use your thumb. not just those in C.com THE 2 TYPES OF MAJOR & MINOR TRIADS CHORDS: Play this chord: This chord is called CMAJOR. Use your thumb. but it is also labeled Cmaj or Cma.
C major aka C or Cma C minor aka C.com – Chords 101 . • Memorize all 12 chords! .or Cmi D major E major F major G major A major D minor E minor F minor G minor A minor Practice Goals: • Play all 12 chords in 30 seconds in your RIGHT hand.Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons. • Play all 12 chords in 30 seconds in your LEFT hand.com 12 MOST COMMON CHORDS THE CHORDS YOU NEED TO LEARN FIRST! These are the 12 most common chords used on piano. You’ll find them over and over again in song books so it makes sense to practice them. These chord shapes are a little easier to play than the ones coming up… We will call them triads because they are made up of only the first three notes in the chord. even memorize them! You’ll notice these chords only one sharp or flat key (black key).FastPianoLessons.
The notes of a minor chord are always the same distance apart: 3 & 4. They are counting each white AND black note from “C” up to the next chord tone “E”.com – Chords 101 .Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons. We’ll use C major again as an example.FastPianoLessons. C MAJOR: C to E is 4 half steps E to G is 3 half steps C MINOR: C to Eb is 3 half steps Eb to G is 4 half steps PRACTICE IDEA: • Try counting up 4 & 3 for other major chords. From C to E there are 4 half steps.com MEMORIZING THE CHORDS PATTERNS MAKE IT EASIER As you make your fingers play the chords from the pictures above you’ll notice a few patterns. It doesn’t matter if it’s C major or E major or Ab major. Start with A minor and F minor. Patterns are great because they are a shortcut for helping us learn and remember the music faster. Start with Fmajor and A major. the distance will be 4 half steps & 3 half steps. . From E to G there are 3 half steps. Minor chords are reversed and the distance is 3 half steps & then 4 half steps. Look at the red numbers in the picture below. NOTE: Chords of the same type are all constructed in the same way. The notes of a major chord are always the same distance apart: 4 & 3. • Try counting up 3 & 4 for other minor chords.
• Play all 12 major chords in 30 seconds. • Play all 12 chords in 30 seconds in your LEFT hand. Altogether we have 12 major chords and 12 minor chords.com – Chords 101 .FastPianoLessons. one for each black and white note. while the minor chords are still 3 & 4 half steps apart.com THE MISSING CHORDS Here are the missing chords. • Memorize all 12 chords! Just remember 4&3 for major and 3&4 for minors.Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons. . Ab major Ab Minor B major Bb major Db / C# major Eb / D# Major Gb / F# major B Minor Bb Minor Db / C# Minor Eb / D# Minor Gb / F# Minor Practice Goals: • Play all 12 chords in 30 seconds in your RIGHT hand. • Play all 12 minor chords in 30 seconds. The major chords are still 4 & 3 half steps apart. They still have the same construction as the first chords we learned.
when played at the same time. G is the fifth of the chord. NOTE: Each major and minor triad has a root. The Third: The third is the second most important chord tone after the third. In other words. (Minor triads have a flat third). the third of the chord is E. The 5th is 5 notes up the major scale. The Fifth: The fifth is the least important note. Remember that for each major or minor triad. This is because we could leave it out and still determine if the chord the root of the chord and if it were major or minor. the chord tones are the notes that make up a chord. In the diagram. It is the same as the name of the chord. The 3rd is 3 notes up the major scale. The pink dots represent the notes of the C major scale. The 7th is 7th notes up etc… . Chords & Scales: Each chord tone has a name that refers to its distance away from the root on its related major scale. then the third would be Eb.FastPianoLessons. create a chord.com CHORD TONES Chord tones are the individual notes that. For example the third of the C major chord is 3 notes away on the C major scale. The fifth is 5 notes away from the root on the major scale. third and fifth are the same distance apart. the root of the C major chord is the note C. a third and a fifth. Remember counting up 4&3 for the major chords and 3&4 for the minor chords? C MA J O R C HORD T O N E S C is the root E is the third G is the fifth The Root: The root is the foundation of the chord.com – Chords 101 . The third helps determine if the chord is major or minor.Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons. If the chord would were C minor. In the diagram. It would be correct to call it a flat or minor third. For example. the root. And the root is at the beginning of the major scale.
com – Chords 101 .com POWER CHORDS! Power chords take away the middle note from the major and minor triads you just learned to only two outside notes. Cmajor (CEG) turns into C5 (CG). power chords can’t be major or minor. C5 Notice these notes are 7 half steps apart! G5 Good to know: • These chords are used primarily on rock songs and pop songs. NOTE: Power chords are labeled with a letter and the number 5. You can double any of the notes. because they are VERY simple to play on the guitar. • These are a guitarist’s favorite chord. . playing as many C’s or G’s as you can get your hands on. For example. If that sounds confusing. HOW TO PLAY POWER CHORDS This is really easy if you practiced your major triads! Start with a major triad and take away the middle note. It has a 5 in the symbol because C and G are a perfect 5th interval apart. If you see the chord symbol “C5” or “Bb5.Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons. They are ambiguous. • Because we have removed the middle note from the chord. They are also not muddy on lower ranges of the keyboard because the notes are spaced out more. the root and the fifth. don't worry! All that means is that there are 7 half steps between C and G.FastPianoLessons.” that means to play a power chord.
the next step will be to practice finding 7th chords like Cma7. (The dark red dots are the root and b7 of C7 chord. minor 7th and dominant 7th chords. this is just the easiest way to find the 7th. THE SLOW WAY: DO NOT COUNT UP 10 HALF STEPS! It is too confusing especially in other keys. the lighter red dots are the other notes in the chord). .FastPianoLessons. Having a 7 in the chord symbol only means that there is a fourth note added to the triad and it is a 7th away from the root.Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons. It doesn’t mean you always have to play the root and the 7th next to eachother in your chords. count down 1 whole step (2half steps) from C.com HOW TO FIND THE FLAT 7TH NOTE FOR ANY CHORD After you learn how to play your major and minor triads. The three types of 7th chords are major 7th. Find the b7 for G7 Here is an example of how to find the b7th for the G7 chord. Count down two half steps from the root (G) and you should land on the b7th (F). THE FAST WAY: Shown here is the root and b7 of a C7 chord. C7 & Cmi7. To find it. Minor and dominant 7ths both have a b7 (flat7).com – Chords 101 . Here is how to find that note: NOTE: The b7 is always whole step down (left) from the root or first note of the chord. It is easier to count a whole step to the left to find the 7th rather than ten half steps to the right.
Count down one half step from the root (G) and you should land on the major7th (F#).com – Chords 101 .FastPianoLessons. To find it. (The dark red dots are the root and major 7th of Cmaj7 chord. the next step will be to practice finding 7th chords like Cma7. The Slow Way: DO NOT COUNT UP 11 HALF STEPS! It is too confusing especially in other keys. Having a 7 in the chord symbol only means that there is a fourth note added to the triad and it is a 7th away from the root. this is just the easiest way to find the 7th. It doesn’t mean you always have to play the root and the 7th next to eachother in your chords.com HOW TO FIND THE MAJOR 7TH NOTE FOR ANY CHORD After you learn how to play your major and minor triads. minor 7th and dominant 7th chords.Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons. C7 & Cmi7. Find the major 7th for Gmaj7 Here is an example of how to find the major7th for the Gmaj7 chord. The three types of 7th chords are major 7th. The Fast Way: Shown here is the root and major 7th of a Cmajor7 chord. Here is how to find that note: NOTE: The major 7th note is always half step down (left) from the root or first note of the chord. Major 7th chords have a major 7th in them. . It is easier to count a half step left to find the 7th rather than 11 half steps to the right. count down 1 half step from C. the lighter red dots are the other notes in the chord).
com SHELL VOICINGS Shell voicings strip down chords with many notes down to only two notes. Keep in mind. the wider the notes need to be spread out. You should arrive at the second dot on F. C7 F7 G7 NOTE: The b7 (flat7) note is always whole step down from the root. only play the dark red notes C and Bb in your left hand. Usually the most important notes. SHELL VOICINGS FOR DOMINANT 7TH CHORDS There are 3 dominant chord shell voicings for the chords shown in the example below.com – Chords 101 . Shell voicings are also great because they let you play your chords lower on the keyboard without the muddiness. Shell voicings are quick and fast to learn. Because 2 notes are easier to find than 4. To play C7 as a shell voicing. the lower you go. . C7 is sometimes called “C dominant” and sometimes called “C7”. Dominants are chords with a 7 attached to the symbol. (the first note of the chord).FastPianoLessons. For example. G7. the root and/or the 3rd or 7th. go up to the high G (labeled root) and count down 2 half steps. To find the b7 note. See the first chord example where C7 is spelled: C E G Bb. Both are correct! Dominant 7th chords normally have 4 notes. The dot on the left is on the root G.Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons. Take a look at the last chord shown.
com BONUS COURSE! (You’re Welcome!) READ MUSIC FASTER FOR TRADITIONAL NOTATION .FastPianoLessons.com – Chords 101 .Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons.
JUST WHAT IS THE GRAND STAFF?! These two squiggly designs are each called clefs. but the effort you put in pays off. you are limiting the ways I can explain musical concepts to you. If you can read music. the notes on the page slowly climb higher and higher. C is on a space and D is on the line that borders that space. then not only can you learn any song ever written.FastPianoLessons.Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons. THE KEYBOARD & THE GRAND STAFF This diagram is the most important if you’re just learning how to read music.com NOTE: Reading music is an essential part of learning to play piano! It does take time. . Using both the treble and bass clef allows the grand staff to cover a wider range of notes. notice the keys C and D are neighbor keys on the piano. and the bass clef is for writing the low notes. The treble clef handles the high notes. NOTE: As you go from left to right on the keyboard. on the notes on the staff are alternating between a line and a space each time as they climb higher to each neighbor note. reading it is the other half! If you don’t learn to read.com – Chords 101 . The top clef is the treble clef and the bottom is called the bass clef. Together they make up the grand staff. but you can communicate with other musicians! Music is a language and playing it is only one half. Also notice. Keep it handy! It shows you how the keys on the piano relate to the music notes on the page. On the page they are written as two dots. which is common in traditional music but not fake books! It is use mainly for piano and harp music. For example.
Think to yourself All Cows Eat Grass has only four words. Rhyming will help you remember that FACE is for the space. . If you use these mnemonic devices or memorization tricks. therefore it must be for the lines. your reading will become much quicker. They forget which ones are for the lines and which are for the spaces. but not all of them. Another tip to keep them straight! You should notice that there are only 4 SPACES and 5 LINES.Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons. Good Burritos Don’t Fall Apart has 5 words. You won’t have to be counting up single lines all the time! This works great for students of all ages! In the treble cleff (the top 5 lines) use: • “FACE is for the Space” (This rhymes) • “Every Good Boy Does Fine is on the line” (This rhymes too!) In the bass cleff (the lower 5 lines) use: • “All Cows Eat Grass” • “Good Burritos Don’t Falls Apart” Are you getting mixed up? Most piano students have a hard time keeping these straight.com READ MUSIC FASTER! One of the biggest reasons people are slow readers is because it takes your brain a few seconds to realize where each note is.com – Chords 101 . so you end up slowly counting each line. therefore it must be for the spaces because there are only 4 of them. You probably know a few notes on the grand staff. and EVERY GOOD BOY DOES FINE is on the line.FastPianoLessons.
com PLEASE PRINT THE LAST PAGE AND KEEP IT BY YOUR PIANO! .FastPianoLessons.Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons.com – Chords 101 .
com – Chords 101 .Introductory Course ©2008 by FastPianoLessons.com THE KEYBOARD & GRAND STAFF NOTESPELLERS ~ MEMORY TOOLS .FastPianoLessons.
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