Let’s learn how to play a C major chord on piano. This is one of the most often played chords, whether it is guitar or piano. It is usually the first chord that one learns.
The C chord, like any other major chord is formed by combining a root, a major third and a perfect fifth. The notes for a C chord are C E G. Since the C chord has these three notes alone (root, major third and perfect fifth, or C E G) it is called a major triad.
Here’s a diagram showing Cmaj in the root position, 1st inversion and 2nd inversion. The inversions are C E G, E G C and G C E.
Notice where each key is located on your piano keyboard. Notice the pattern of black keys. There are sets of two and three black keys that repeat over and over. C comes before the set of two black keys, skip one white note and it takes you to E, skip another white note and it takes you to G. In terms of tones, after you’ve found the note, C, you move two tones to E, and one and a half tones to G.
So what is the fingering for the C major chord? In root position, right hand, play C with finger one (thumb), E with finger 3 (middle finger) and G with finger 5 (pinky finger). In the first inversion, play E with finger 1, G with finger 2 and C with finger 5. For the second inversion, play G with finger 1, C with finger 3, and E with finger 5.
Short Video: How To Play C Maj Chord
The C chord occurs naturally in the following keys:
- C major (chord I). Relative minor: A minor (chord III)
- G major (chord IV). Relative minor: E minor (chord VI)
- F major (chord V). Relative minor: D minor (chord VII)
For an understanding of chords and the keys in which they occur, go to the page, Chords By Key.
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