Piano Chords Chart for Beginners
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Here's a free printable piano chords chart (PDF) for beginners! In this easy piano lesson, you'll get tips on using chord charts for when you are playing.
You'll also learn how chords are built and get tips on how to get started playing chord piano. Have fun!
The Chords in a Piano Chords Chart
We'll get to the printable chords chart below, but first, let me show you how chords work; it's easy- really!
How Music Chords Are Built
A three note chord, or a triad.
- A chord consists of three or more notes played together.
- The notes of a chord in root position are all spaced an interval of a third apart.
- You actually "build" chords by stacking thirds on top of each other.
- Depending on if the thirds are major (big) or minor (small) and in what order they are stacked, you get different types of chords.
- The most basic piano chords are either three-note or four-note chords.
- Basic three-note chords are also called "Triads."
Basic Chords: Triads & Seventh's
Three Note Chords: Triads
Chords with 3 notes are called triads. There are four types of triads:
4 Types of Triads
- The Major Triad (a three-note chord) is made of a major third and, on top, a minor third; this creates the specific sound of "major"; a "happier," "lighter" sound. It is written for ex.: E (Root=E, major chord).
- The Minor Triad is built with a minor third and, on top, a major third. This gives the sound of "minor" a more "sad," "darker" sound. It is written for ex.: Am (Root=A, minor chord).
- The Diminished Triad is made from only minor thirds. This gives the chord a sound like it really wants to go somewhere, to be resolved somehow. That is why it is often referred to as a Dominant 7th chord with no root. For example, it is written: D dim (Root=D, diminished chord).
- The Augmented Triad is built from only major thirds; it also has an "unresolved" sound.
Four Note Chords: Sevenths
The 7th chord is a four-note chord. It has a root, a third, a fifth, and a seventh. Starting from the root (red), the third (blue), the fifth (green), and the seventh (yellow).
This is a 7th chord in the "root" position:
- A “regular” 7th chord, also called a Dominant 7th chord (for example, C7), is made from a major chord plus a minor third on top. That would make the thirds stacked like this (from the bottom and up): major third, minor third, minor third.
- A Major 7th chord (for example, Cmaj7) is a major chord with an added major third on top. The thirds are stacked like this: major, minor, major.
How to use piano chord charts in 6 steps
- First, pick a piece with chord markings and melody, or just lyrics and chords. Tip: You can also use anything written for guitar with chord tabs since the chord names for piano are the same.
- Highlight the different chords that are used- it might seem like there are a lot, but usually, there are only a few chords or a specific chord progression.
- Study the piano chords chart and learn the patterns (how they look) of the chords you'll be using.
- Next, write those chord names on a piece of paper and practice only the different chords until you know them well.
- Then, practice the chords in the order of the song until fluent.
- Finally, sing or hum the melody of the piece you picked, playing the chords at the right words!
How to play chord piano
When playing chord piano, you can use, for example, a "Fakebook." I use this Easy Fake Book with my students, which is a great way to learn to play chords and melody following a lead sheet.
A lead sheet has only the melody written with notes (or only lyrics), and above it, the chords are written as chord symbols, like Cmaj7, Eb dim., or Bm, for example.
If you already know the melody, you only need the lyrics and the chords! Here is a free example with only chords and melody.
You can either sing the song's melody (or have someone else sing it!) and make up your own accompaniment or pick out the melody in one hand and play the chords in the other.
Use the piano chords chart below to remind yourself how to play simple triads in root position.
However, check out my beginner piano lesson about how to play piano chord inversions to learn how you can change the chord's position for smooth transitions when moving from one chord to the next.
Printable Piano Chords Chart
A piano chords chart can be a handy tool, especially when learning how to play chords.
This chord chart shows you the most common chords in root position; major, minor, diminished, 7th chords, and Major 7th chords in all keys.
Click on the link below the image to get your PDF:
Piano Chords Chart with Inversions
Click on the link to download your free chord chart:
Printable Piano Chord Chart (PDF)
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