To make learning chords a little easier, you might want to try using a piano chord chart. This handy reference tool gives you immediate and visual access to some of the most commonly played chords. And although they can be quite complicated for the beginning pianist, this article will describe their fundamentals.
Acknowledging that a chord is a combination of three or more notes played together, a piano chord chart displays the keys that should be played in order to achieve a particular harmony or chord. The note that begins a chord is called the root and in order to use a piano chord chart effectively, you’ll need to start with a root key. Common roots are the “C” “F” or “G” keys. So selecting a root is a simple matter of deciding which key or note will start the chord. The subsequent keys or notes that follow contribute to the chord and build a harmonious sound.
So how does one use a piano chord chart? Well if you wanted to start a major chord with the “C” key, you would need to play the “C, E, G” keys simultaneously. That’s how chords are built on a piano. On a chord chart however, you would need to select your root key (in our case, “C”) and then select the name of the chord that you want to play (in this case, “major”). The chart would then highlight the “C, E, G” keys of a model piano keyboard to indicate that they should be played together.
Pretty easy, right? Let’s try another one.
If you wanted to start a minor chord with the “C” key, you would need to play the “C, Eb, G” keys simultaneously. On a piano chord chart, you would select your root key (the “C” key) and then select the name of the chord that you want to play (in this case, “minor”). The chart would then highlight the ” C, Eb, G ” keys to indicate that they should be played together.
There are approximately 12 different root keys that you can experiment with and about 600 chords that you can learn to play by using a chord chart. As you experiment and practice, you’ll discover some interesting patterns. For example, the C Major chord skips a single white key between each note. The C Minor chord however, skips three white keys between the first and last note, but plays the second black key in-between! The C Major, E/F# Major, G Major chords remain pretty faithful to the pattern exhibited by the C Major chord.
As complicated as chords can get, you’ll really benefit from using this visual reference. Once you get started with one, you’ll be ready to tackle some of the more complicated pieces of music that you’ve always wanted to play. There simply is no rhyme or reason to frustrate yourself any longer because even the most basic piano chord chart removes the most prevalent obstacle to playing harmonious music. And that’s “figuring out where the fingers go!”