Category Archives: Piano Chords

Chord Inversions Explained – Root Position, First and Second Inversions

I will explain chord inversions to you. You will learn about chords in their root position as well as their first inversion and second inversion. We will also touch on 3rd inversions of seventh chords.

A subscriber on my Piano Keyboard Guide YouTube channel did not understand chord inversions and I started answering their question as a comment. My response was getting a bit lengthy and I decided to turn it into a blog post so that everyone can benefit. This allows me go into greater detail. I trust that you will benefit from this. Be sure to leave me a comment below so I know for sure that you’re with me. 🙂

To form the first or second inversion of a chord all you do is switch the notes around (invert them) and play these notes either higher or lower on your piano. For instance, the notes of the C major chord are C, E and G. In root position, this chord is played with the note, C as the lowest notes, E in the middle, and G as the highest note. Root position of the C major chord is C-E-G.

To form the first inversion of this chord, instead of C being your lowest note, you make it the highest note in the chord. Therefore, E becomes the lowest note, G is in the middle and C is played an octave higher. The C major chord in its first inversion is therefore, E-G-C.

You can invert this chord further and play the notes in the order, G-C-E. This is known as the second inversion of the C major chord. G is the lowest note, C is in the middle and E becomes the highest note.

chord inversions, root position, 1st inversion, 2nd inversion, c major

Chord inversions – C major chord on piano

What’s the point of chord inversions? Inversions help you move smoothly between chords. For instance, let’s say you play a C major chord whose notes are C, E and G, as we have seen. Let’s say you are playing a song and the C major chord is followed by an F major chord. Instead of shifting all your fingers and playing the F major chord in its root position (F-A-C), all you have to do is shift two fingers. All you have to do is leave your finger on the note, C, and play F and A. C-F-A is the second inversion of an F major chord.

Let’s take a look at another example. Let’s say you want to move from a G major chord to a C major chord. Let’s say you’re starting with a G major chord in its root position, G-B-D. Instead of having to move all your fingers and play the C major chord in its root position (C-E-G), all you do is leave your finger on G, and move two fingers, giving you G-C-E. G-C-E is the second inversion of the C major chord.

So a chord can be played with the notes in different orders, depending on the sound you intend to create, or to allow you to smoothly move from chord to chord in a chord progression. In other words, the fact that the notes of the C major chord (for example) are C, E and G, doesn’t mean that the notes are always played with C as the lowest note, E in the middle and G at the top. It can be C-E-G (root position), E-G-C (1st inversion) or G-C-E (2nd inversion).

chord inversions, first inversion, second inversion, root position, c major

C major chord inversions

Let’s look at this another way, although it all points to the same thing. A major chord (for instance) is made up of a root, a third and a fifth. For instance in a C major chord, C is the root, E is the third and G is the fifth. In root position, the root is the lowest note. In its 1st inversion, the third is the lowest note. For the 2nd inversion, the 5th is the lowest note.

Any chord can be inverted. The chords we’ve looked at so far have all been major chords, but this can be done with any type of chord, whether minor, augmented, diminished, seventh, and so on. The more notes there are in a chord, the more inversions are possible. For example, the notes of the C dominant 7th chord are C, E, G and Bb. In root position, the notes of Cdom7 are C-E-G-Bb. In its 1st inversion, it’s E-G-Bb-C. In its 2nd inversion, it’s G-Bb-C-E. In its 3rd inversion, it’s Bb-C-E-G.

Here’s an example of a minor chord. The notes of the A minor chord are A, C and E. In root position, play A-C-E. In other words, A should be the lowest note in the chord, C is in the middle and E is your highest note. The 1st inversion of the A minor chord is C-E-A. The 2nd inversion of the A minor chord is E-A-C.

Root position means that you start the chord with its root note. The root is the note which corresponds to the letter name of the chord. In root position, the root is the lowest note in a chord.

Practice playing chords in their root position, first and second inversions. Start with major chords then move to minor chords. You can even practice them mentally, when you are away from the piano. After learning major and minor chords, you can move to other types of chords, like augmented, diminished, suspended, and extended chords. I take a look at lots of chords on this page. You can click on the major and minor chords in particular and learn how to play them in root position as well as 1st and 2nd inversions.

I trust that you’ve learned a lot. It was a pleasure explaining chord inversions to you. Please leave me a comment. My name is Mantius Cazaubon. All the best!

How to Play Minor Chords on Piano – for Beginners

Welcome to our piano lesson on minor chords. You will learn how to play this chord in every key.

The first chord we will start with is A minor. This chord consists of three notes, A, C and E. How did we come up with this chord? A simple way to do it is to play a key, skip two keys, play a key, skip three keys and play a key. To form A minor, play the key, A, skip two keys (Bb and B), play C, skip three keys (C#, D and Eb) and play E. A-C-E is an A minor chord, also written, Am or Amin. Play this chord with the left hand as well, using fingers 1, 3 and 5. Fingers 1, 3 and 5 is used for the right hand as well. (Learn about finger numbers.)

Watch this lesson:

Let’s start on the note, E. To form an Em chord, like we did with the Am chord, we play a key, skip two keys, play a key, skip three keys and play a key. So in that case, we play E, skip two keys (F and F#), play G, skip three keys (Ab, A and Bb) and play B. E-G-B played together is an Emin chord.

You can use this method of skipping keys anywhere on your keyboard. For instance, if you start on D, you will end up with the notes, D, F and A.

Let’s say you start on B flat. You end up with the notes, Bb, Db and F. The Bbmin chord is played the same way as an A#min chord. The two chords simply have different names. It’s a Bbmin chord because its notes are a half step lower than Bmin, and it’s an A#min chord because its notes are a half step higher than Amin. You can play this chord with fingers 1, 2 and 5, while Am can be played with fingers 1, 3 and 5. It feels comfortable to play the chord with these fingers.

Try this on every piano key. If you play a key, skip two keys, play a key skip three keys and play a key, you end up with the following minor chords.

Minor Chords List

C minor: C–Eb–G
C sharp minor: C#–E–G# (D flat minor: Db–Fb–Ab)
D minor: D–F–A
D sharp minor: D#–F#–A# (E flat minor: Eb–Gb–Bb)
E minor: E–G–B
F minor: F–Ab–C
F sharp minor: F#–A–C# (G flat minor: Gb-Bb-Db)
G minor: G–Bb–D
A flat minor: Ab–Cb–Eb (G sharp minor: G#–B–D#)
A minor: A–C–E
B flat minor: Bb–Db–F (A sharp minor: A#–C#–E#)
B minor: B–D–F#

Minor chords on piano.

Practice these chords with each hand separately, then play both hands together. Move up and down your keyboard. The more you practice, the better you will get. You can practice the chords slowly then increase your speed as you get better. Have fun with the chords. Very soon you will master every single minor chord.

I want you to notice that some of the chords have different names but the same keys are played on piano. They are enharmonic equivalents of each other. They are written differently on paper but on your instrument, the same keys are played. While there are 17 chords in the list above, you only have to learn to play 12, really. This is because some of the chords, as I said, have different names but are played the same.

Most of these chords can be played with fingers 1, 2 and 5 or fingers 1, 3 and 5. For instance, play the C#m chord with fingers 1, 2 and 5, and the Dm chord with fingers 1, 3 and 5. Use this as a guide; there is no absolute rule as to what fingers you should play the chords with. It has a lot to do with what feels comfortable.

Learn more about forming minor chords.

To learn how to form other types of chords, check out the piano chords main page.

To take your playing to the next level, get my piano chords book on Amazon or take my piano chords course on Udemy. All the best.

How to Play Major Chords on Piano and Keyboard

In this lesson, you will learn how to play every major chord on piano. We will start with C major. To play a major chord, all you do is play a key, skip three keys, play a key, skip two keys and play a key. For instance, to form a C major chord, play C, skip three keys (C#, D and D#), play E, skip two keys (F and F#) and play G. It’s that simple.

Play C major with your right hand. Finger 1 (thumb) plays C, finger 3 (middle finger) plays E and finger 5 (little finger) plays G. Play it with your left hand as well. Finger 5 or your little finger plays C, finger 3 plays E and finger 1 plays G.

Watch this lesson:

Let’s move on to C sharp major. It consists of the notes C#, E# and G#. You can play this chord with fingers 1, 2 and 4 or fingers 1, 2 and 5. You can even play it with fingers 1, 3 and 5. It depends on how long your fingers are and how comfortable it feels. For D flat major, the same keys are played on your piano.

Let’s try D major. Its notes are D, F# and A. All you do is play a key, skip three keys, play a key, skip two keys and play a key. That’s all. There’s nothing hard about it.

Then you can move on to the E flat major chord whose notes are Eb, G and Bb. The same keys are played for the D sharp major chord, except that the notes have different names.

Try an E major chord. Play a key (E), skip three keys, play a key, skip two keys and play a key. This results in the notes, E, G# and B. Follow this chord with F major which consists of the notes, F, A and C.

See also: main Piano Chords page

Then play F# major with the notes, F# A# and C#. It’s an F sharp major chord because its notes are a half step (or semitone) higher than the notes of F major. It’s also G flat major because its notes are a semitone lower than the notes of G major.

Then we have G major. The notes of this chord are G-B-D. The notes of G# major are G#-B#-D#. On piano, the same keys are played for both G# major and the Ab major chord. The notes of Ab major are Ab-C-Eb. The notes of A major are A-C#-E. If you move one half step higher, you arrive at Bb major which consists of the notes, Bb, D and F. Bb uses the same piano keys as A# major.

Most of these chords can be played with fingers 1, 3 and 5. For instance, chords like C major, F major and G major can be played with fingers 1, 3 and 5. Some of the chords, such as C# major, can be played with fingers 1, 2 and 5. or even 1, 2 and 4.

Finally, we have B major which consists of the notes, B, D# and F#.

Practice all of these chords. This is what your chords should look like.

Major chords on piano (keyboard).Major Chords List:

C major: C–E–G
C sharp major: C#–E#–G# (D flat major: Db–F–Ab)
D major: D–F#–A
E flat major: Eb–G–Bb (D sharp major: D#-F##-A#)
E major: E–G#–B
F major: F–A–C
F sharp major: F#–A#–C# (G flat major: Gb–Bb–Db)
G major: G–B–D
A flat major: Ab–C–Eb (G sharp major: G#-B#-D#)
A major: A–C#–E
B flat major: Bb–D–F (A sharp major: A#-C##-E#)
B major: B–D#–F#

If you work at it, moving up and down the keys, one chord at a time, you will master it. You can start slowly, then pick up the pace as you improve. Practice both hands.

A good way to play the chords is note by note. Break up each chord into individual notes. For instance, let’s say you’re playing C major. Play C, followed by E, followed by G, then play C, E and G together. Move up the keyboard and do this for every chord. You can also go down your keyboard, and play chord after chord.

More on major chords

To learn more, get my piano chords book on Amazon or take my piano chords course on Udemy. All the best.

Augmented Chords on Piano – Learn How To Form Them Easily

In this lesson, you will learn how to play every single augmented chord.

One way to form an augmented chord is to play a major chord (in root position) and to play the third note in that chord a half step higher. For example, play the chord, C major whose notes are C, E and G. To form the augmented, simply play the note, G a half step higher. In other words, change G to G#. The notes of C augmented are therefore, C, E and G#. This chord is written like this: Caug or C+.

Try it with the D major chord. Play the notes, D, F# and A, then play A a half step (or semitone) higher, resulting in D, F# and A#. D, F# and A# played together is a Daug chord.

Watch this lesson:

Or how about Eaug? Play the E major chord whose notes are E, G# and B, then raise the third note of the chord by a half step. The notes of the E augmented chord are therefore E, G# and B#(C).

Try this with every major chord. This is what your augmented chords should look like.

C augmented: C-E-G#
C# augmented: C#-E#-G##(A)
D augmented: D-F#-A#
Eb augmented: Eb-G-B
E augmented: E-G#-B#(C)
F augmented: F-A-C#
F# augmented: F#-A#-C##(D)
G augmented: G-B-D#
Ab augmented: Ab-C-E
A augmented: A-C#-E#(F).
Bb augmented: Bb-D-F#
B augmented: B-D#-F##(G)

Free augmented piano chords chart.

Augmented Chords

You can form augmented chords by skipping keys. Simply play a key, skip three keys, play a key skip three keys and play a key. For instance, play the note, C, skip three keys (C#, D and D#) play E, skip three keys again (F, F# and G) and play G#. C-E-G# is a Caug chord.

To play the chord, Faug, play F, skip three keys (F#, G and G#), play A, skip three keys (A#, B and C) and play C#. The notes of the F augmented chord are F-A-C#.

Try a Gaug chord. Play G, skip three keys (G#, A and A#), play B, skip three keys (C, C# and D) and play D#. The notes of the G+ chord are G-B-D#.

Practice the augmented chords with your left hand as well.

So as I said, you can form augmented chords in different ways. One way is by skipping keys, as we just saw. Simply play a key, skip three keys, play a key skip three keys and play a key. Or you can think of this chord in terms of a major chord (in root position) with its third note raised by a half step.

In terms of the major scale, an augmented chord combines notes 1, 2 and sharp 5. For example, the notes of the C major scale are C D E F G A B. To form the chord, C augmented, you combine note 1 of that scale, C, note 3, E and the sharp fifth, G#. Instead of playing the fifth note of the scale, you raise it by a half step and play G#.

After you practice playing each hand separately, play both hands together. Simply go up the scale in a chromatic manner. In other words, play Caug, followed by C#aug, followed by Daug, followed by D#aug and so on.

To learn more, get my piano chords book on Amazon or take my piano chords course on Udemy. All the best.

Diminished Chords on Piano – Learn How To Form Them Easily

In this lesson, you will learn how to play every single diminished chord on piano and keyboard.

How do you form a diminished chord? You play a key, skip two keys, play a key, skip two keys and play a key. For example, if you start on C, you play the note C, skip two keys (Db and D), play Eb then skip two keys (E and F), then play Gb. The notes, C, Eb and Gb played together is a C diminished chord. A C diminished chord can be written like this: Cdim or C°.

You can watch this lesson in the following youtube video. You will see me play all the chords with both hands.

Let’s try D diminished. Play D, skip two keys (Eb and E), play F, then skip two keys (Gb and G), and play Ab. D, F and Ab played simultaneously is a D diminished chord. We played a key, skipped two keys, played a key, skipped two keys, then played a key. We formed a D dim or D° chord.

Let’s try E diminished. Play a key (E), skip two keys (F and Gb), play a key (G), skip two keys (Ab and A), and play a key (Bb). These gives us the notes E, G and Bb. E-G-Bb is an E diminished chord.

We can do the same with any of the chords. Try F diminished. The notes are F, Ab and Cb. That’s how easy it is. You can try this with every key on your keyboard.

Another way to think of forming a dim chord is to play a minor chord and to simply lower the third note in the chord by a half step. So the notes of the C minor chord are C, Eb and G, while the notes of the C diminished chord, as we have seen are C, Eb and Gb. The note, G is lowered by a half step (or semitone).

The notes of the D minor chord are D, F and A, while the notes of Ddim are D, F and Ab. A is played a half step lower.

The notes of the E minor chord are E, G and B while for Edim, the notes are E, G and Bb. If you already know how to play minor chords, it’s very easy to form the diminished. Try this with various minor chords.

I want you to try out all the diminished chords. Remember to play a key, skip two keys, play a key, skip two keys and play a key.

This is what your chords should look like.

free diminished piano chords chart

Diminished Chords

Cdim: C-Eb-Gb
C#dim: C#-E-G
Dbdim: Db-Fb-Abb(G)
Ddim: D-F-Ab
D#dim: D#-F#-A
Ebdim: Eb-Gb-Bbb
Edim: E-G-Bb
Fdim: F-Ab-Cb
F#dim: F#-A-C
Gbdim: Gb-Bbb(A)-Dbb(C)
Gdim: G-Bb-Db
G#dim: G#-B-D
Abdim: Ab-Cb(B)-Ebb(D)
Adim: A-C-Eb
A#dim: A#-C#-E
Bbdim: Bb-Db-Fb(E)
Bdim: B-D-F

Without getting into too much theory, you can see how easy it is to form this type of chord on piano.

Practice the chords with your left hand as well.

To learn more, get my piano chords book on Amazon or take my piano chords course on Udemy. All the best.

 

Piano Chord Fingering – Which Fingers to Use When Playing Chords

Piano Chord Fingering: How do you choose which fingers to use when playing a specific chord?

I was asked this question (on piano chord fingering) in one of my piano courses by a beginner.

Student Question: How do you choose which fingers to use when playing a specific chord?

My response:

Thanks for your question, (student name).

As a beginner, you can start by playing most three note chords with fingers 1, 3 and 5. Some piano chords can be more comfortably played with fingers 1, 2 and 4 or 1, 2 and 5. For chords that require a wider finger span, you can use fingers 1, 2 and 5 on the right and 5, 2 and 1 on the left hand.

Every hand is different, and some people have longer/shorter fingers than others. A child’s fingers for instance are much shorter. Unless it’s specified, you should play what feels most comfortable. But be sure to start the chord (especially those that start with white keys) with your thumb, and use 1-3-5, 1-2-4, and 1-2-5 fingerings as a guide.

As you progress, a lot changes. There is no specific rule as to what fingers go where. Strictly speaking, there is no right and wrong way to finger chords. It depends on various factors, like what chord comes before the chord you are playing and what chord comes after.

The chord, C major can be played with fingers 1, 3 and 5. But as you progress and you need to add notes to that chord and play more advanced chords, you will find yourself playing the C major chord with fingers, 1, 2 and 3, thus freeing up your other fingers to play additional notes. For example, a more advanced chord like a C7 chord which consists of the notes, C-E-G-Bb may be played with fingers 1, 2, 3 and 4, while a C major 7th chord which consists of the notes C-E-G-B may be played with fingers 1, 2, 3 and 5 since this feels more comfortable.

Piano chord fingering isn’t written in stone.

(End of answer)

Just in case you’re new to all of this and don’t know how your fingers are numbered, here’s a short video I made for you.

Piano Finger Numbers – Left and Right Hand