There are many different types of chords, the most common are major and minor chords. For this lesson we will learn about how to form "major triads." First, let's define what a major triad is; a triad are 3 notes either played together or simultaneously. A major triad is played using the 1st (root) + 3rd + 5th notes of a major scale. A major triad chord has a symbol of M or Maj. Here's how to form major triads:
Time Required: Depends on your playing level
- Learn all the note names on a keyboard. The white key to the left of two black keys is always a C; now moving to the next white keys on the right we have D - E - F - G - A - B then back to C again. These note names just keep repeating. The names of the black keys (and some white keys as well) varies depending on whether it's a sharp or a flat. For example, the black key next to C may either be a C# or a Db.
- Learn how to play the major scales. A scale is a series of notes that go in an ascending and descending manner. To guide you, here are the major scales in every key:
C = C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C
D = D - E - F# - G - A - B - C# - D
E = E - F# - G# - A - B - C# - D# - E
F = F - G - A - Bb - C - D - E - F
G = G - A - B - C - D - E - F# - G
A = A - B - C# - D - E - F# - G# - A
B = B - C# - D# - E - F# - G# - A# - B
- Here are the other major scales for flats and sharps:
C# = C# - D# - E# (=F) - F# - G# - A# - B# (=C) - C#
Db = Db - Eb - F - Gb - Ab - Bb - C - Db
Eb = Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C - D -Eb
F# = F#= F# - G# - A# - B - C# - D# - E# (=F) - F#
Gb = Gb - Ab - Bb - Cb (=B) - Db - Eb - F - Gb
Ab = Ab - Bb - C - Db - Eb - F - G - Ab
Bb = Bb - C - D - Eb - F - G - A - Bb
- To simplify, you can memorize this formula to form a major scale = whole step - whole step - half step - whole step - whole step - whole step - half step or w - w - h - w - w - w - h
- Now, assign numbers to each note of a major scale, always assign number one to the root note. For example, in the C major scale the numbers will be assigned as follows:
C = 1
D = 2
E = 3
F = 4
G = 5
A = 6
B = 7
C = 8
- Now, in order to form a major triad play the notes numbered 1 + 3 + 5. In our example above, that is C + E + G, that's the C Major Triad. Do this pattern to form all the other major triad chords.
- Added Tip: To play the chords with your right hand, use your thumb to play the root, your middle finger for the third note and your pinky to play the 5th note. For the left hand it's the other way around, with your pinky playing the root, your middle finger still playing the third note and your thumb playing the 5th note.
- Try this: Try playing the following major triads in this pattern: C major triad - A major triad - F major triad - G major triad. You can play the notes on a chord one after the other or all at the same time. Just listen to how it sounds.
- Further Reference Piano Chord Library