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Piano Chords

Learn to interpret chord symbols at the piano, using classics such as "Hallelujah", "Always On My Mind", etc.
Instructor:
Benedict Westenra
6,941 students enrolled
English [Auto]
Interpret basic chord symbols, including major and minor triads, sus chords, and 7th chords
Have multiple ways of playing the same chord, so that you can choose the one that sounds best

“After buying loads of books on piano chords nothing has come close to this excellent course … it has to be the best on Udemy” – Michael Fallon

“Even if you already know your scales and chords, this course brings you through the variations so that you can do more than just play a triad each and every time.” – Richard

This course teaches you how to interpret basic chord symbols at the piano, and explains them:

  • at the keyboard
  • in a visual and intuitive way
  • using real pieces of music

I’ll teach you concepts using original techniques that I’ve tested on hundreds of students over a decade, including signed artists and other industry professionals. By the end you’ll know many ways of playing any chord symbol that’s likely to crop up in popular music. (I’m working on a follow-up course that teaches more advanced chords that you find in jazz.)

What this course is

This course shows you many ways of playing:

  • major triads (e.g. C, Eb, F#)
  • minor triads (e.g. Dm, Fm, G#m)
  • sus chords (e.g. Esus, Gsus, Bbsus)
  • 7th chords (e.g. F#7, Am7, Cmaj7), and
  • slash chords (e.g. Ab/Eb, Bm/E, Dmaj7/E)

so that you can:

  • read a “lead sheet” (a score with a melody and chord symbols but no LH)
  • accompany yourself singing using just chord symbols, and
  • understand how the chord symbols fit a score

I’ll show you many ways of playing each chord so that you can not only work out what chord to play but also turn it into a complete accompaniment.

What this course isn’t

This course doesn’t teach you how to play the piano – it assumes you know how to play the piano already. And the pieces used are mostly extracts that are designed to illustrate certain types of chord, so the goal isn’t to play complete pieces but to acquire skills that you can apply to other pieces.

Also, this isn’t a music composition course: I don’t talk very much about why certain chords sound good together. However, if you are interested in learning about chord progressions this is a good starting point.

In conclusion

So, if you’ve ever wondered what Dm7/G means then give this course a try! You can always get a refund if you decide it isn’t for you.

Best of luck on your musical journey,

Benedict

Introduction

1
What you can expect from this course
2
Bonus, 13/01/16: all the scores in 4 PDF's
3
What is a chord?

A chord is just more than one note playing at a time.

Root-5th-root chords

1
What is an interval?

An intervals is the distance between 2 notes.

Intervals have names like 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

2
5ths

A 5th is either:

  • 2 white notes with 3 white notes in between, or
  • 2 black notes with 2 black notes in between,

except B-F# and Bb-F.

3
(NEW! 2021) How to do the interactive tests
4
(NEW! 2021) 5ths test
5
Example: "To Build a Home"
6
Exercise: harmonize "With or Without You"
7
Solution: "With or Without You" harmonized
8
Root-5th-root chords

A root-5th-root chord is a 5th with the root repeated at the top.

9
Example: "Rolling in the Deep"
10
Example: "The Heart Asks Pleasure First"
11
Exercise: harmonize "Fields of Gold"
12
Solution: "Fields of Gold" harmonized
13
What is an arpeggio?

An arpeggio is when you play the notes of a chord one-by-one.

14
Example: "Fields of Gold" with arpeggios
15
Exercise: harmonize "Always on My Mind"
16
Solution: "Always on My Mind" harmonized
17
Example: "Always on My Mind" with arpeggios

Major triads

1
Semitones

2 notes are a semitone apart if there are no other notes between them.

(In North America, semitones are called "half-steps".)

2
(NEW! 2021) Semitones test
3
Tones

2 notes are a tone apart is they're 2 semitones apart, in other words if they have exactly one note between them, including white and black notes.

4
(NEW! 2021) Tones test
5
Major 3rds

2 notes are a major 3rd apart if they're 2 tones apart.

6
(NEW! 2021) Major 3rds test
7
Exercise: harmonize "Amazing Grace" using major 3rds
8
Solution: "Amazing Grace" harmonised using major 3rds
9
Major triads
  • C, F, and G are all WWW.
  • A, D, and E are all WBW.
  • Ab, Db, and Eb are all BWB.
  • B (WBB) is the opposite of Bb (BWW).
  • F# is the only major triad that's BBB.
10
(NEW! 2021) How to do the triads tests
11
(NEW! 2021) Major triads test
12
Exercise: harmonize "Kumbaya"
13
Solution: "Kumbaya" harmonized
14
Exercise: harmonise the verse of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
15
Solution: the verse of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" harmonized"

Minor triads

1
Minor 3rds

2 notes are a minor 3rd apart if there are exactly 2 notes between them, including white and black notes.

2
(NEW! 2021) Minor 3rds test
3
Example: "Clair de lune"
4
Minor triads
  • Am, Dm, and Em are WWW.
  • Cm, Fm, and Gm are WBW.
  • C#m, F#m, and G#m are BWB.
  • Bm (WWB) is the opposite of Bbm (BBW).
  • Ebm is the only minor triad that's BBB.
5
(NEW! 2021) Minor triads test
6
Exercise: harmonize "The Tetris theme"
7
Solution: "The Tetris theme" harmonized
8
What is a broken chord?

A broken chord is when you split a chord into groups of notes.

9
Example: "The Tetris theme" with broken chords

Practicing major and minor triads

1
Exercise: harmonize the chorus of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
2
Solution: the chorus of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" harmonized
3
Example: "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" with arpeggios
4
Exercise: harmonize "Mad World"
5
Solution: "Mad World" harmonized
6
Example: "Mad World" with broken chords
7
Exercise: harmonize "La valse d'Amélie"
8
Solution: "La valse d'Amélie" harmonized
9
Example: "La valse d'Amélie" with broken chords
10
Practice: "La valse d'Amélie" in 6 keys
11
Exercise: harmonize "House of the Rising Sun"
12
Solution: "House of the Rising Sun" harmonized
13
Example: "House of the Rising Sun" with arpeggios
14
Exercise: harmonize "Memory"
15
Solution: "Memory" harmonized
16
Root-5th-10th chords

A root-5th-10th chord is a triad with the 3rd moved up an octave (an octave and a 3rd is a 10th).

17
Example: "Memory" with arpeggios
18
Example: analyzing the chords to "Für Elise"

Major triads in inversion

1
4ths

4ths are inversions of 5ths. That means that if you take a 5th and move the bottom note up an octave you get a 4th. So a 4th is either:

  • 2 white notes with 2 white notes in between, or
  • 2 black notes with 1 black note in between,

apart from F-Bb and F#-B.

2
(NEW! 2021) 4ths test
3
Major triads in 1st inversion

A major triad in 1st inversion is a major triad in root position with the root moved up an octave. So in 1st inversion:

  • C, F, and G are WWW
  • A, D, and E are BWW
  • Ab, Db, and Eb are WBB
  • B (BBW) is the opposite of Bb (WWB)
  • F# is the only one that's BBB
4
(NEW! 2021) Major triads in 1st inversion test
5
Exercise: harmonize the accompaniment to "All Day and All of the Night"
6
Solution: the accompaniment to "All Day and All of the Night" harmonized
7
Major triads in 2nd inversion

A major triad in 2nd inversion is a major triad in root position with the 5th moved down an octave. So in 2nd inversion:

  • C, F, and G are WWW
  • A, D, and E are WWB
  • Ab, Db, and Eb are BBW
  • B (WBW) is the opposite of Bb (WBW)
  • F# is the only one that's BBB
8
(NEW! 2021) Major triads in 2nd inversion test

Mixing major inversions

1
Example: "Kumbaya" harmonized using inversions
2
Exercise: harmonize the riff to "Forget You" using major triads in inversion
3
Solution: the riff to "Forget You" harmonized using major triads in inversion
4
Exercise: harmonize "Green Onions" using major triads in inversion
5
Solution: "Green Onions" harmonized using major triads in inversion

Minor triads in inversion

1
Minor triads in 1st inversion

A minor triad in 1st inversion is a minor triad in root position with the root moved up an octave. So in 1st inversion:

  • Am, Dm, and Em are WWW
  • Cm, Fm, and Gm are BWW
  • C#m, F#m, and G#m are WBB
  • Bm (WBW) is the opposite of Bbm (BWB)
  • F#m is the only one that's BBB
2
(NEW! 2021) Minor triads in 1st inversion test
3
Example: "Lean On Me"
4
Minor triads in 2nd inversion

A minor triad in 2nd inversion is a minor triad in root position with the 5th moved down an octave. So in 2nd inversion:

  • Am, Dm, and Em are WWW
  • Cm, Fm, and Gm are WWB
  • C#m, F#m, and G#m are BBW
  • Bm (BWW) is the opposite of Bbm (WBB)
  • Ebm is the only one that's BBB
5
(NEW! 2021) Minor triads in 2nd inversion test
6
Exercise: complete the chords to "Creep"
7
Solution: the chords to "Creep"
8
Example: repeating the chords to "Creep"

Practicing major and minor triads in inversion

1
Exercise: harmonise the chords to Pachelbel's "Canon"
2
Solution: the chords to Pachelbel's "Canon"
3
Exercise: harmonize the riff to "Golden Brown"
4
Solution: the riff to "Golden Brown" harmonized
5
Recognising triads in inversion
  1. Remove any duplicate notes from the top of the chord
  2. Move all the notes into the same octave
  3. Look at the intervals between adjacent notes: the top of the 4th is the root, or if the chord is made up of 3rds the bottom note is the root
6
Exercise: analyze the chords to "Comptine d'un autre été, l'après-midi"
7
Solution: the chords to "Comptine d'un autre été, l'après-midi" analyzed

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