Learn Piano Chords – How to Form Chords on Piano and Keyboard

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In this lesson you will learn how to form eleven different types of piano chords. You will learn major, minor, diminished, augmented, sus2, sus4, dominant 7th, minor seventh, major 7th, major 6th and minor 6th chords. Don’t be confused by all these terms. It is very easy. I will show you how easy it is to form all these piano chords. There is nothing hard about it so don’t be frightened.

To learn more about chords, check out my course, Piano Chords: How To Form Basic Chords On Piano And Keyboard.

The first thing we will start with is the major scale. We will use the C major scale for this. The notes of the C major scale are C D E F G A B then back to C. C is note 1, D is note 2, E is note 3, F is note 4, G is note 5, A is note 6 and B is note 7. The last note in the scale, C is really number 1 in a higher octave, or you can call it note 8. We will use the seven notes, C D E F G A B to form the chords.

By the way, there are different major scales. For example there’s a D major scale whose notes are D E F# G A B C#. There’s an F major scale with the notes, F G A Bb C D E. There’s a G major scale with the notes, G A B C D E F#. You can start on any key and form a major scale, but to keep things simple, we will use the C major scale.

piano chords

How to Form a Major Chord on Piano

To form our first piano chord, the major chord, you use notes 1, 3 and 5 of the major scale. So starting on the note, C, the notes you would play are C, E and G. C is note 1, E is note 3 and G is note 5. It’s that simple. Simply play notes 1, 3 and 5 of the scale together and you have a major chord. You can do this with any scale. Whether it’s a C major, D major, E major, F major or any other major scale, you form a major chord by playing notes 1, 3 and 5 of that scale.

Watch this Piano Chords Lesson :

How to Form a Minor Chord on Piano

The next piano chord we will learn is the minor chord. To form a minor chord, you play notes 1, flat 3 and 5 of the major scale. So instead of playing the third note of the major scale, you play the flat third which is a semitone (or half step) lower. 1-b3-5 gives you a minor chord. Remember that the notes of the C major scale are C D E F G A B. From this scale, you play note 1, C, the flatted third, E flat and the fifth note, G, resulting in a C minor chord.

How to Form a Diminished Chord on Piano

The next keyboard chord you will learn how to form is the diminished chord. To form a diminished chord, you use notes 1, flat 3 and flat 5 of the major scale. Starting on C, the notes are C, E flat and G flat. C-Eb-Gb is a C diminished chord. Once again, flat 3 means that it’s a half step lower than note 3, while flat 5 means that it’s a half step lower than note 5 of the scale. That’s all it is.

How to Form an Augmented Chord on Piano

The next keyboard chord you will learn is the augmented chord. C-E-G# is a C augmented chord. To form an augmented chord, play notes 1, 3 and sharp 5 of the major scale. Sharp means to go a semitone (half step) higher. So instead of G, you play G sharp. F sharp is the flat fifth while G sharp is the sharp fifth of the scale.

To recap, C-E-G is a major chord, C-Eb-G is a minor chord, C-Eb-Gb is a diminished chord, and C-E-G# is an augmented chord. For a major chord, you play 1-3-5, for a minor chord it’s 1-b3-5, for a diminished chord it’s 1-b3-b5 and for an augmented chord, it’s 1-3-#5.

To help you take your chord playing to the next level,  check out my course, Piano Chords: How To Form Basic Chords On Piano And Keyboard.

How to Form a Suspended Second (Sus2) Chord on Piano

Now that we have major, minor, diminished and augmented chords covered, let’s move on to the sus2 chord, also called the suspended second chord.

To form this chord, all you play is notes 1, 2 and 5. For the C major scale, this would be the notes, C, D and G. This is a C sus2 chord, also called a C suspended second chord.

How to Form a Suspended Fourth (Sus4) Chord on Piano

To form a sus4 chord, play notes 1, 4 and 5 of the scale. The notes, C, F and G played together results in a C sus4 chord.

How to Play a Dominant Seventh Chord

The next chord you will learn how to play is the dominant seventh (dom7) chord. To form a dominant seventh chord, you play notes 1, 3, 5 and flat 7 of the scale. The notes of a C7 chord would therefore be C-E-G-Bb. So instead of playing the 7th note, B, you play the flat 7th note, Bb. This is really a major chord with an added flat 7th note.

How to Play a Minor Seventh Chord

To form a minor seventh chord, combine notes 1, flat 3, 5 and flat 7 of the major scale. 1-b3-5-b7. Notes 3 and 5 are both played a half step lower (or flattened). Therefore, the notes of the Cm7 chord are C-Eb-G-Bb. This is really a minor chord with an added flat 7th note.

How to Play a Major Seventh Chord

The next chord you will learn how to play is the major seventh (maj7) chord. Combine notes 1, 3, 5 and 7 of the major scale. Therefore, the notes of the C major seventh chord are C-E-G-B. For the dominant seventh chord, you play the flat seventh note, whereas, for the major seventh chord, you play the seventh note of the major scale.

We will learn two more chords. These are sixth chords.

How to Play a Major Sixth Chord

What note do you think we should add to a major chord to form a major 6th chord? The answer is the 6th note of the scale. For the C major scale, that note is A. The 6th chord must include the 6th note of the scale. Therefore, a C major 6th chord (C6) chord consists of the notes C-E-G-A. You play notes 1, 3, 5 and 6 together.

How to Play a Minor Sixth Chord

Lastly, let’s take a look at the minor sixth chord. I’m sure you guessed it, you play a minor chord and add the sixth note of the scale to it. The notes of the Cm6 chord for instance are C-Eb-G-A. You play notes 1, b3, 5 and 6 of the scale.

The major sixth and the minor sixth chord are used a lot in Jazz music. Most pop songs wouldn’t make use of this chord. It’s a good chord to know nonetheless; it is very easy to play.

You can form every type of piano chord we’ve looked at in any scale. All you need to know is your major scale and remember what note numbers to play.

So let’s try this in the G major scale. The notes of the G major scale are G A B C D E F#. G is note 1, A is note 2, B is note 3, C is note 4, D is note 5, E is note 6 and F# is note 7. To form a G major chord, play notes 1, 3 and 5. These notes are G, B and D. To form a G minor chord, play notes 1, b3 and 5. These notes are G, Bb and D. To form a G diminished chord, play notes 1, b3 and b5. These notes are G, Bb and Db. To form a G augmented chord, play notes 1, 3 and #5. These notes are G, B and D#. To form a G7 chord, you play notes 1, 3, 5 and b7. These notes are G, B, D and F. To form a G maj7 chord, play notes 1, 3, 5 and 7 of the major scale. These notes are G, B, D and F#. To form a Gsus2 chord, you play notes 1, 2 and 5. These notes are G, A and D. For a Gsus4 chord, play notes 1, 4 and 5 or G, C and D. It’s simple.

Let’s try one more scale, the F major scale. The notes of this scale are F G A Bb C D E. Try it out. Major: 1-3-5 (F-A-C). Minor: 1-b3-5 (F-Ab-C). Diminished: 1-b3-b5 (F-Ab-Cb). Augmented: 1-3-#5 (F-A-C#). Dominant 7th: 1-3-5-b7 (F-A-C-Eb). Major 7th: 1-3-5-7 (F-A-C-E). Sus2: 1-2-5 (F-G-C). Sus4: 1-4-5 (F-Bb-C). Major 6th: 1-3-5-6 (F-A-C-D). Minor 6th: 1-b3-5-6 (F-Ab-C-D).

To help you take your chord playing to the next level,  check out my course, Piano Chords: How To Form Basic Chords On Piano And Keyboard.

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