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Covid-19 Sorry piano lessons in the flesh are suspended
  • Meanwhile Skype Piano Lessons are available
  • Making chords in piano or keyboard music

    Fifth G A B C D E F G
    Third E F G A B C D E
    Root C D E F G A B C

    To make a chord, add another root on top of the triad:

    Root C D E F G A B C
    Fifth G A B C D E F G
    Third E F G A B C D E
    Root C D E F G A B C
    Pick a main note or root (C for example), put another note above it (the third - E) - 2 notes above - having missed out a white note on the keyboard, then a further note 4 notes above it (the 5th - G), having missed out another white note. Place each of these extra notes depicted here by a letter, by stacking them on top of the root and forming a 3 note chord called a triad.
    Degrees ?
    Each note of the scale is a degree.
    Semitones and tones ?
    The distance between each note is 1 semitone. For example black to white, white to black. Go up 2 notes for 2 semitones or one tone. For example F to G or F# to G#.
    Build a chord
    by grouping notes together as illustrated.
    Name a chord
    by its main note - then the type of chord.
    Major, minor, diminished
    Chords with different note spacings and sounds.
    To form a chord, take some notes from the scale of C major - all white notes on the keyboard.
    A scale is made up of semi tones and tones.
    A semitone or half a tone is for example from E to F or B to C. It can also be from a white note to the next black note or vice versa.
    An example of a tone is from C to D or F to G. It can also be from one black note to the next black note for example from F# to G# (F sharp to G sharp).
    By the way a sharp (#) makes the note higher by 1 semitone and a flat (b) makes the note lower by 1 semitone.
    This will all help you to understand better what you are playing.

    Here is the whole scale of C major...

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    C D E F G A B C
    Sharps and flats A sharp (#) makes the note higher by 1 semitone and a flat (b) makes the note lower by 1 semitone. As well as from white notes C to D, a tone can be from one black note to the next black note for example from F# to G# (F sharp to G sharp). Lastly a tone can also be from B to C# or Bb to C and from E to F# or Eb to F.
    Three different chords ....
    Major sounds happy and bright.
    Minor sounds a bit sad.
    Diminished 7th sounds gloomy.
    Why? ...The distances between the notes make these different chords. For example, the distance between the root and third of the major chord is 4 semitones, whereas the third of the minor chord is 3 semitones above the root. All the notes of the diminished chord are equidistant - they are all 3 semitones apart.
    Building a chord on each note of the scale ... Chords can also be identified by the name of the root they are built on the notes of the scale CDEFGABC. In the column on the right you see them named as guitar symbols used also in Jazz where the letter on its own means major and Cm means C minor. B dim or B dim7 means the diminished 7th chord built on B.

    Chords built on the notes of C major scale

    Note Chord
    C C major
    D D minor
    E E minor
    F F major
    G G major
    A A minor
    B (BDF) B dim
    Now try this learning project ...
    Start with the C major scale
    Learn about semitones and tones
    Build up the triad on each note
    using major, minor and diminished
    Add another root at the top
    Add C F and G chords to your tune
    Great! You completed the tutorial.
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