Get It Together with Bass Chords
If you have sheet music or songbooks to play from, they will likely have chords to play. There are hundreds of
possible chords in piano music. There are major and minor chords, diminished chords, inverted chords, augmented
chords, and more. Just because there are so many chords to learn, it does not mean you cannot get started on them
The easiest place to begin is with the major chords. To think about chords, you can start by thinking of the
scales. You have played a C scale, which has all its notes on white piano keys. You can start with a C major chord.
Remember that the scale went up: beginning note- step-step-half step-step-step-step-half step. A chord can have
more than three notes in it, but you are going to choose the beginning note, the third note, and the fifth
Therefore, you will be playing the beginning note, skip a step, play the next step, skip a half step, and play
the next step - one, three, five. If you will look back at Figure A, you can use the Home Keys position for a C
major chord. Just put your right thumb on C, your middle finger on 3 which is E, and your pinkie on 5 which is G.
Push down all of the keys together. You have just played a C major chord.
You can invert the C major chord for a slightly different sound. All you have to do is to use the same three
notes - C, E, G - and play them in different positions. For example, you can play the E and G in the positions they
are on in the home keys, but use the C above middle C with them instead of middle C. Try this and make up any
variation of the C, E, G combination you can.
You can make chords from any scale. Just remember the sequence of the scale and choose the first, third, and
fifth tone in that scale. There are two other major chords that can be played all on the white keys. They are the F
major chord and the G major chord. Now try these chords. Use the one-three-five sequence to make up each chord. If
you analyze the D, E, and A chords, you will see that their simple major chords are not much more difficult. You
just have to put the middle finger on the black key for the
third tone in the scale. Remember that D flat is the same as C sharp, and so on. This gives you several more chords
The next three basic major chords are the opposite of the previous three. The D flat, E flat, and A flat chords
are such that you put your fingers on the black keys for the one and five positions and on a white key for the
third position. When you invert the chord, you will have to remember which keys were originally one, three, and
five, just as always.
It is easy to remember that the G flat, also called the F sharp, chord occurs all on the black keys. You will
have to work to memorize the B major chord and the B flat major chord, as they are a little different. B goes white
for one, black for three, and black for five. B flat is just the opposite, with black for one, and white for three
Minor chords, the serious or gloomy-sounding chords are easy to make as well. For basic minor chords, you only
have to lower the third note one half step. You would end up with a C-E flat-G for a minor chord. This goes back to
the scale set-up. When you count your steps and half steps, you need to account for the third step being a half
step lower. Therefore, you would have beginning note-step-half step-step-step for the first five notes.
You can continue to learn different chords for a long time before you will have mastered them all. Learning
chords gives you a way to add fresh new material to your practice and playing. The more you know, the easier it
will become for you to play without written music.