4 Basic Piano Chords for Beginners to Learn Songs Quickly

Playing the piano requires a lot of practice, patience, and technique. Reading the piano notes on the music sheet can be as hard as playing the actual piano keys.

However, by learning the basic piano chords, you will play all your favorite pop songs and classical pieces.

If you want to learn to play piano and songs, allow us to be your music teachers as we go over some of the best piano chords for beginners, experts, and music enthusiasts. 

What Is a Piano Chord? 

Before diving deep into the different basic piano chords and each chord symbol, you need to understand what a piano chord is.

Basically, you create piano chords when you play more than one note on the keyboard simultaneously. So pressing two to three keys all at once results in the formation of a piano chord.

Whether you play basic piano chords or complex chord progressions during your lessons, one thing they all have in common is the presence of a root note.

It is always referred to as the note the chord is named after.

For example, if your music teacher assigns you to play songs with chords from the key of C, the root note is C. The same applies to other keys involved.

Of all the piano chords, the most basic one is the triad, also known as the three-note chord. Here are the following notes involved in a triad:

  • Root note
  • A third of the chord (third note above the root)
  • A fifth of the chord (fifth note above the root)

In terms of fingering, place your thumb and fingers side-by-side by the adjacent keys to determine the notes of your triad.

For a more convenient experience, push down the keys using your thumb, middle finger, and pinky. This applies to both your left hand and right hand.


What Are Piano Intervals?

Simply put, an interval is a distance between notes. Besides tracking each key's spacing, the interval determines the piano notes' tone when played together.

"How do you measure the intervals?" you may be wondering. Here are some terms that should give you an easier time following the chords.

  • Half-step: the distance from one adjacent key to the next; the smallest interval (E-F)
  • Whole-step: the distance that is equivalent to two half-steps (D-E)

If you want to perform drills like full major scales, minor scales, and Hanon exercises, we highly recommend you brush up your knowledge on the different piano intervals and chords.


Understanding Major and Minor Chords

Do you want to learn how to play more than one song? Knowing the major and minor chords is something you need to achieve if you want to master multiple pop songs.

So what exactly are major and minor chords? How are the two most basic chords different from one another?

Major Piano Chords

For starters, if you want to play the most basic piano chords for beginners, the major chord is your best bet.

The classic three-note chord has become a staple among casual and professional players. That is because the triads are easy to play and versatile.

To play these chords, count up to 2 whole steps from the root note. After that, count an extra three half-steps. Doing these will give you "third" and "fifth" notes, respectively.

So if you want to play a major chord in the key of C, the basic chord progression is "C-E-G." For the key of G, follow the "G-B-D" chord progression. And so on.

If you're curious how the fingering on the chords works, the left-hand plays the root note with the pinky and the "fifth note" with the thumb.

For its part, the right-hand uses the thumb to press down the first key and the pinky for the "fifth note." Both hands should play the "third note" using the middle finger.

Indeed, you can play any song and chord progression you want with the major chords. Here are some examples of popular major chords most composers, producers, and musicians use.

  • C: C-E-G
  • A: A-C#-E
  • F: F-A-C
  • Bb: Bb-D-F
  • G: G-B-D
  • D: D-F#-A
  • E: E-G#-B

Minor Piano Chords

Like its major counterpart, minor chords contain 3 notes: the root note, a third, and a fifth. The difference between the two piano chords lies in the counting of whole and half steps.

The distance from the first note to the third is three-half steps (D-F), a far cry from the 2-whole step difference of a major chord. In short, the middle goes for a half step lower.

As a result, the third and fifth notes' distance is two whole steps, equivalent to four half steps (C-E). For example, the D minor chord has a progression of D-F-A.

Usually, minor chords are present in most rock, pop, and sad songs.

So if you're trying to get over a heartbreaking movie you watched the other day, I suggest serenading yourself with some minor piano chords.

  • C minor (Cm): C-Eb-G
  • A minor (Am): A-C-E
  • F minor (Fm): F-Ab-C
  • Bb minor (Bbm): Bb-Db-F
  • G minor (Gm): G-Bb-D
  • D minor (Dm): D-F-A
  • E minor (Em): E-G-B

What Are All the Piano Chords You Can Play?

Here is a piano chord chart ofboth major and minor chords to give you a visual representation of all the notes you need to play for each key.

How to Read Sharp and Flat Piano Notes?

If you want to learn piano, you need to understand how sharp and flat notes work. We're certain you and other beginners may not know what these are.

To keep the definition simple, these are notes that are directly above or below the letter name. Both notes usually use a black key.

Basically, the black key at the right of the C is called "C-sharp." This means it is a half step higher.

The same applies to other letters except for the B-note because it is right beside C. The chord symbol for sharp notes is "#."

For its part, flat notes also use the black key, but these are found at the left of each note. These are basically a half step lower. So if you have a d-chord, you call the flat variation "d-flat."

Use the "b" chord symbol if you want to label flat notes.


4 Basic Piano Chords You Can Learn Quickly

Before you attempt the complicated bridge for Queen's iconic song (Bohemian Rapsody), or Beethoven's timeless arrangement (Moonlight Sonata), you need to master the basic piano chords.

If both your left hand and right hand are committed to the task of playing these 4 basic chords, expect soulful music to come out of the instrument.

More and more fans will love your song covers should you decide to post these on YouTube. Who knows? You might even have Alicia Keys notice you for covering her song "If I Ain't Got You."

1. A Minor Chord (A-C-E)

Even though it is the "odd man out" in terms of chord type, the A minor chord is one of the more basic chords you should learn.

To play it on the right hand, put your thumb, third, and fifth fingers on the A, C, and E, respectively.

For the left hand, the pinky gets A, the thumb presses on E, and the third finger's position stays the same.

Keep in mind these positions when you learn the different piano chords and concepts.

A Minor Chord (First Inversion: C-E-A)

A Minor Chord (Second Inversion: E-A-C) 

Popular Songs You Can Learn to Play Using the A Minor 

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication
  • Nirvana - Heart-Shaped Box\

2. C Major Chord (C-E-G)

Even though it is not the first letter on the alphabet, more and more teachers have required their students to play the C chord first before all the other chords.

To play it on the right hand, your thumb presses the first note (C), the third finger handles the third note (E), while the pinky area gets the fifth note (G).

The first and fifth finger switch notes for the left hand, while the third finger stays the same.

C Major Chord (First Inversion: E-G-C) 

C Major Chord (Second Inversion: G-C-E) 

Popular Songs You Can Learn to Play Using the C Major

  • Blink 182: All the Small Things
  • John Lennon - Imagine

3. G Major Chord (G-B-D)

Moving along, G, B, and D produce chords from the key of G. To play the standard chord on the right side, the thumb plays G, the third finger gets B, and the pinky is positioned at D.

When it comes to the left hand, the same technique applies to the other chords.

G Major Chord (First Inversion: B-D-G) 

G Major Chord (Second Inversion: D-G-B) 

Popular Songs You Can Learn to Play Using the G Major 

  • Taylor Swift - 22
  • The All American Rejects - Swing Swing

4. F Major Chord (F-A-C)

The thumb, third finger, and pinky press on F, A, and C, respectively. The first and fifth fingers interchange when played by the left hand.

FUN FACT: It also plays two notes from the A minor chords (A-C)

F Major Chord (First Inversion: A-C-F) 

F Major Chord (Second Inversion: C-F-A) 

Popular Songs You Can Learn to Play Using the F Major 

  • Randy Newman - When She Loved Me
  • The Little Mermaid - Part of Your World

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed going or the basic chords that should help you play piano songs like a real musician.

Feel free to ask us anything about the piano chords chart or chord symbols if you need any clarification. 

About the Author Linda Ritter

Linda Ritter is a passionate pianist and a songwriter for more than 7 years. With a Masters in Music, she has explored the world of music and has collaborated with several musicians and brands like Roland, Tune Core, and plenty of blogs.

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