10 types of chords a pianist/keyboardist must know + how to build them (PART 1)

Ten Chords you must know and how to build them

    Hey, guys. Welcome to PlayThePianos. This time we will be having a bit of summary, though the resources might be enough to keep you moving. I will try to keep it easy and understandable.

   Here, we would be talking about chords; we will talk about ten different types of chords that should be known and they also help in forming the foundation and also, having the knowledge of these chords, can make you confidently play in public. And please note, this is the first part of this epic tutorial; the link to the second part is embedded after this post.

   This post will just be a 'detailed summary', but ensure to go back to the main post and read more about the chords individually. This would give you a fuller value of these chords. So, without wasting any time, let of dive in...

What is a Chord?

    A chord simply means the combination of three or more notes, in harmony. In music, notes create scales; scales create chords, and chords create progressions. Chords are an integral and pertinent aspect in music. Without chords, there won't be progressions, a d therefore, songs would not carry so much life and emotion as they do now.
   The combination of two notes is Dyad; three notes is Triad; four notes is Quartad; five is Pentad and so on.

   In music, there are many types of chords. In this post, we will be having a summary of the first part of the ten chords. Be sure to check the last part and the fuller version of the post. So, the types of Chords.....


    Major chords are the 'major' type of chords in music. They are always the first type of chord a person would learn how to build and play on. They are formed from the major scale. The major chord is called a Major chord because the distance between the root and the third note is a 'Major third'.

   The major chord consists of three notes, therefore, it is called a Triad. In many countries, people call the major chord 'd m s', and that is because it uses the 'Do', 'Mi' and 'Sol', depending in the key or note on which it is forned. The Do, Mi and Sol is the formula of constructing it. Another way of representing the Major chord or another formula used is the standard one of building it, using the number system: 1 3 5. Examples of Major Chords on different keys are:
C - C E G
A - A Db E
Db - Db F Ab


   The second chord on the list is the Minor chord. A minor chord is a type of chord in which the interval between the Root and the Third note is a 'Minor third' - that is how the chord got its name. 

   Minor chords have a dull or dark sound. Using the chord in a progression doesn't mean it would kill the bright and happy tune of the sound, but that it would add a richer value. 

   Since b3, or flat three means a half step below the major third, it is called Minor third. It is also the third note in a minor scale. Therefore, it uses the formula: 1 b3 5. This is the standard formula for constructing a minor chord. Some other people use a formula, do moh Sol, to name and build their own minor chords. 
Examples of minor chords on some keys are:
C - C Eb G
Cb - Cb E Ab
F - F Ab C
B - B D Gb


   Diminished chords mostly appear third on the list of chords to be learnt. They are very easy to form and they have a sweet sound when used in progressions. 

   Diminished chords means reduced chords, as the name implies. They are chords that have been compressed from the normal major or minor chords, therefore, they are not stable: they always want to resolve to a stable chord above or below them. 

   Diminished chords come with the chord formula: 1 b3 b5. The 'b' before the 3 and 5 means that you would flatten(decrease by a semitone) the notes. If you see a sharp(#) before any note, it means you would sharpen(raise by a semitone) the note.
Examples of diminished chords on some notes are:

D - D F AbE - E G Bb

A - A C Eb


   Augmented chords are also a nice-sounding type of chord. Augmented means increase. Since the most basic type of chord is the Major, Augmented chords means chords formed by increasing the interval in a Major chord.

  •    What do I mean? The interval between the root and fifth in a major triad is a perfect fifth, but for an augmented triad, the interval is increased by a semitone, to make an Augmented fifth or Minor sixth. Therefore, the formulae for forming an augmented triad is 1 3 b6 or 1 3 #5. The #5 and b6 are enharmonic notes and they mean the same thing. Examples of augmented chords are:
C - C E G#
F - F A C#
F# - F# A# D
A# - A# D F#


   Sus2 means Suspended 2nd. This is a very distinct type of chord. The suspended second means to remove the middle note of the major and minor triad(or even Augmented) or the third note of the scale, and changing it to the major second of the scale. What do I mean by that?
   I mean that since the formula of a major chord is 1 3 5, and that of a minor chord is 1 b3 5, with each chord having its third as major and minor respectively, a Sus2 chord simply means to change each third to make a major second. So now, we have a new formula: 1 2 5. That is the formula of the Sus2 chord. Some other people love to call the Sus2 chord, do re Sol. Whatever makes you understand, use it!
   Examples of Sus2 chord are: 
C - C D G
D# - D# F A#
F - F G C
F# - F# G# C#


   Like the Sus2 chord, the Sus4 chord also means Suspended fourth. The Sus4 chord applies the same principle as the Sus2, in that, the third note of the scale or the middle note of the triad is exchanged for the Perfect fourth or the Subdominant.

   Therefore, the formula of the Sus4 chord is 1 4 5. As you can see, the fourth note is used. Many people like to use the Sus4 chord as a passing chord and it also has a resolving feature. The notes of the Sus4 chord are the 1, 4 and 5, A.K.A Do Fah Sol, A.K.A Tonic(Root), Subdominant and Dominant.
   Examples of the Sus4 chords on some keys are:
C - C F G
A - A D E
E - E A B
F - F Bb C

To check the continuation of this great lesson, click Here.

Thanks for reading this. Don't forget to also read the second part, it would be interesting. Please don't also forget to subscribe to stay updated with the latest posts, and share this post with your friends. Cheers!!!

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