Major chord piano

Major chord piano DEFAULT

How to Form Major Chords on Piano

Major chords are usually the first type of chords one learns. Along with minor chords they are the most basic and easiest ones. They create a happy mood, unlike minor chords which are generally sad in nature.

They consist of three notes, a root, a major third and a perfect fifth (1 – 3 – 5). For instance, in the chord C major consists of the notes, C (the root), E (the major third), and G (the perfect fifth). To add another example, the chord F major consists of the notes F, A and C. The maj chord gets its name from the root note.

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The root is the note upon which the chord is based. For example, the root of G major is G, no matter what the inversion.

The major third is the third note in a major scale. Using the same note G, as an example, the major third is B. B is four half steps above the root note.

The perfect fifth is the fifth note in the major (or minor) scale. It is seven half steps above the root note. Using the note G again, the perfect fifth is D. D is three half steps above the major third.

Clearly, you can form this type of chord by using half steps.  The formula is R + 4HS + 3 HS (root plus 4 half steps + 3 half steps).

Take a look at your piano keyboard. Play any key. To form a major chord corresponding to that key or note simply hold that note, then skip two keys and play the key to the right, then skip two keys and play the key to the right.

Watch This Lesson: (How To Form Major Scales First, Then Chords)

Key Patterns for all 12 major triads

Perhaps the easiest major chords to play on piano are the chords, C, F and G. This is due to the fact that the consist of white notes only. We’ve already looked at C and F. The notes for G major are G, B and D.

There are three chords which follow the pattern, white key, black key, white key. These are the chords, D, E and A major.

Three major triads are made up of the pattern black key, white key, black key. They are Db, Eb and Ab.

Lastly, there are three chords with an odd pattern. Gb major consists of all black keys, Bb major is made up of the pattern, black key, white key, white key, and B major, white key, black key, black key.

Practice the all white key chords first, then move to the other patterns we highlighted above in the other presented.

To learn more about this chord and others, check out my course, Piano Chords: How To Form Basic Chords On Piano And Keyboard.

Major chords on piano (keyboard).

Major chords in all 12 keys (Chords and notes that make up that chord starting with the root, followed by major third, then perfect fifth)

  • C major: C – E – G
  • C sharp major: C# – E# (F) – G#
  • D flat major: Db – F – Ab
  • D major: D – F# – A
  • D sharp major: D# – G – A#
  • E flat major: Eb – G – Bb
  • E major: E – G# – B
  • F major: F – A – C
  • F sharp major: F# – A# – C#
  • G flat major: Gb – Bb – Db
  • G major – G – B – D
  • G sharp major: G# – B# (C) – D#
  • A flat major: Ab – C – Eb
  • A major: A – C# – E
  • A# major: A# – C## (D) – E# (F)
  • B flat major: Bb – D – F
  • B major: B – D# – F#

Some of the chords have different names but on piano you play the same keys. These are known as enharmonics. For instance, Eb is the enharmonic equivalent of D#, Ab is the enharmonic equivalent of G#, Bb is the enharmonic equivalent of A#, and so on.

Triad Root Position and Inversions

When playing major chords, the root note is not always the lowest note you hold. Same applies for any of the three notes in the chord. What we have presented so far are the chords in root position. In root position, the lowest note of the chord is the root note.

Triads also have what is known as a first inversion. The root note is moved to the top, an octave higher. So in the case of C major, for instance, instead of playing C – E – G (1+3+5), you now play E – G – C (3+5+1).

For the second inversion, the the lowest note of the first inversion is moved to the top. So E – G – C (3+5+1) becomes G – C – E (5+1+3).

More information on major chords and other chords




A major chord

A major chord for piano (including A/C# and A/E inversions) presented by keyboard diagrams.
Explanation: The regular A chord is a triad, meaning that it consists of three notes. On the picture of the keyboard, you can see the three notes of the A chord marked in red color.
Theory: The A major chord is constructed with a rootThe lowest note in the chord, a major thirdAn interval consisting of four semitones, the 3rd scale degree and a perfect fifthAn interval consisting of seven semitones, the 5th scale degree.
Fingerings: little finger, middle finger, thumb (left hand); thumb, middle finger, little finger (right hand).


A major chord diagram with marked notes A - C# - E
Notes: A - C# - E

Left hand: 5-3-1

Right hand: 1-3-5

Ab chord‹ Previous • Next ›A# chord

+  Show inversions: A/C#, A/E-  Hide inversions

A major - inversions

Explanation: A/C# is an A major chord with C# as the bass note and A/E is an A major chord with E as the bass note.

A/C# (1st inversion)

A/C# chord diagram
Fingerings: 5-3-1 (LH) 1-3-5 (RH)

A/E (2nd inversion)

A/E chord diagram
Fingerings: 5-3-1 (LH) 1-3-5 (RH)

See also A chords with alternative bass notes ›
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Learn piano chords

What is a chord?

A chord is a group of notes that can be played together and function as the harmony in music. There are lots of different chords that can be organized in different groups and categories. One thing that differ among chords is how many notes that are included. There are triads (three notes), four-note (sometimes called tetrachords) and five-note chords. In addition, chords with six or seven notes also exist. See in-depth summary of chord types.

Building chords

A good way to learn chords on the piano is to be familiar with how they are constructed. The Cmaj7 chord adds one note to C, the seventh in the C major scale. The Cm7 adds one note to Cm, the seventh in the C minor scale. Looking at the extended chord (e.g. C7, C9, C11), they are adding notes using intervals from the root of the chords with seventh, ninth and eleventh degrees.

... And how to play piano chords?

When you know which notes that belong to a chord, you can play it in several ways. A chord can be played by pressing down all the relevant keys simultaneously or each at a time. As you make progress, you will find more ways of altering the outcome. It is also important to use the right fingers and this is called fingerings.


So which hand do you play chords on piano with? The answer is that it depends.

For musical accompaniment (i.e. you play in a band or with a singer) you can choose to play only with one hand or with both, depending on how advanced things you are playing – when playing chords including many notes, using two hands can be advantageous (see Two-hands chords). Other piano techniques include playing chords in two parts (e.g. the root note first and when the rest of the notes or the root followed by the whole chord on a higher octave, called stride chords).

If you play solo, you are mostly playing the chords with your left hand and the melody with your right. This is far more natural than the opposite because the harmony and melody sound better combined this way.


The fingers to use when playing piano chords varies. Here are some advice to lead you to right practice:

  • In general, avoid using the thumb for the black keys.
  • But for the most time (i.e. when the first note is not a black key) you should involve the thumb.
  • Always strive for the most natural position for the hand.
  • The most common fingerings for triads using left-hand are, in order: little finger (5), middle finger (3) and thumb (1).  
  • The most common fingerings for triads using right-hand are, in order: thumb (1), middle finger (3) and little finger (5).  

The numbers are used to simplify and represent the five fingers from thumb (1) to little finger (5), regardless if the left or right hand is concerned. On this site you can find fingerings for the chords, these are suggestions that strives to follow the standard way, but must not be optimal in all situations or for all hands.

Exercises could be done for developing independence among the fingers. Normally, the ring fingers are the weakest and need the most strength training. See fingerings illustrated with pictures.

Combining them

After you learned some chords, the next step is to combine them into progressions.

How to read the diagrams?

On the image below you can see one example of how a piano chord is presented on this site including a diagram:

piano chord picture and information

A red color means that the key is part of the chord that is in focus. To play the actual chord on a piano, press down all keys marked in red (if needed, see a diagram compared to a realistic picture). Since the pattern of keys repeat itself on the keyboard, you can place your hand in many positions. You will notice, however, that there is more bass on the left part of the keyboard and more treble as you go to the right. Therefore, you should strive for placing your hand somewhere in the middle.


To understand the pictures used in the piano chord guide it is to your advantage to know all the notes on the keyboard.


When looking at piano chord symbols, we often see # (pronounced sharp) or b (pronounced flat), for example C# or Db.
Then the chord is only written with a letter, like C, it is a major chord. A chord written as Cm means C minor.
Sus, Dim and Aug are abbreviations for suspended, diminished and augmented.
For inverted chords a slash is used between the original chord name and the alternative bass note (i.e. C/E).
A parenthesis can sometimes be seen in the chord name, for example C(#5), meaning that the chord has an alteration or extension.
Less common is the use of no in a chord. In these cases a note is omitted and Cno3 means that the triad is played without the third.

A collection of exercises with musical notation that can be open as pdf-files.
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Learn All 12 Major Piano Chords Fast!

What Are the 12 Major Chords?

There are 12 major chords that you can play on the piano. To make a major chord, you play the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of a major scale together. For example, the C major scale has the notes: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. So you use C E G to make the major chord.

Keep in mind that you call one black note by 2 names, like C# and Db. Chords like this have the same notes but are called and written differently. Both ways will be written here.

About Major Chords

Major chords are written as just a letter name. They come from major scales and use the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the scale with the same name. (You can learn more about this on the chord theory page.)

Here they are:

D Major ChordD = D F# A
D Flat Major ChordDb = Db F Ab
E Major ChordE = E G# B
E Flat Major ChordEb = Eb G Bb
A Major ChordA = A C# E
A Flat Major ChordAb = Ab C Eb
B Flat Major ChordBb = Bb D F
B Major ChordB = B D# F#

Video Playlist of the 12 Major Chords

Chart of The 12 Major Chords (+ 2)

Charts can be useful and here is one for you. This is the chart of all the major chords for piano. You can also find this and the individual major chords at Piano Lessons on Pinterest.

Chart of Major ChordsChart of Major Chords

Major Chord Quiz / Game

We have created a little quiz or game for you to practice coming up with the notes in the different major chords. 

Check out the major chords quiz page here.

Old School Chart:

This is the original chart of the major chords I published on the site. I've just left it up here as it shows things slightly differently and you may find it useful. 

These major chords are the most common ones you’ll come across when playing a song. Learning and knowing these will get you a long way. To learn some more kinds of chords, go to minor chords or back to chord charts. 

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Piano Chords for Beginners

Chords define the harmony of a song, and are made by playing more than one note at the same time. They can be simple or complicated, but even beginner piano chords can create fun and exciting music. In fact, there are very few songs that don’t use chords in some way, especially in rock music!


Click or tap below to jump to a piano chord section.

  1. Common piano chords chart
  2. What is a piano chord?

  3. Standard piano notes

  4. Piano note chart

  5. Major piano chords
Minor piano chords

  7. Diminished piano chords
  8. Augmented piano chords

Common Piano Chords Chart

When it comes to playing the piano, pianists have thousands of chords to select from, with some chords being more popular than others. Check out some of the most common chords in the piano chord chart below, or keep reading to find out more about piano chords.


The most common piano chords include:

  1. A major (A). A - C# - E
  2. A minor (Am). A - C - E
C major (C). C - E - G
  4. C minor (Cm). C - Eb - G
  5. D major (D). D - F# - A
  6. D minor (Dm). D - F - A
  7. E major (E). E - G# - B
  8. E minor (Em). E - G - B
  9. F major (F). F - A - C
  10. F minor (Fm). F - Ab - C
  11. G major (G). G - B - D
  12. G minor (Gm). G - Bb - D
Most common piano chords include A, C, D, E, F, and G in both the major and minor scale.

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What is a piano chord?

A chord is created when more than one note is played at once, and contains two, three, or more individual notes. On the piano, this means you push down more than one key at the same time.

All piano chords contain a root note -- this is the note the chord is named after -- as well as one or more additional notes. Basic piano chords often consist of only two or three notes, while the more advanced chords tend to incorporate even more notes.

The most common type of keyboard or piano chord is a triad, or three-note chord. A triad contains a root note and two other notes, most often the notes that produce the intervals of a third and fifth above the root note.

The most common type of keyboard or piano chord is a triad, or three-note chord.

One way to get the basic shape of a triad is to place your thumb and fingers on adjacent white keys and push down with your thumb, middle finger and pinky. Learning this technique will set you up to play various basic piano chords with ease.

What are piano intervals?

The distance between piano notes, called an interval, determines how they sound when played together. Intervals are measured in half-steps and whole-steps.

  • Half-steps. A half-step is the distance from one key to the next key immediately to its right or left.

  • Whole-steps. A whole-step is the distance of two half-steps.

  • Common intervals. A common interval used in piano chords is the major third, which is the distance of two whole-steps or four half-steps.

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What are the standard piano notes?

Piano notes  follow a pattern of black and white keys, with a group of two black keys close together followed by a group of three black keys close together. This pattern repeats across the keyboard, and we use it to identify the notes.

Each of the white keys is assigned a letter name from A to G, and each of the black keys is called a sharp or flat.

What are sharp and flat piano notes?

Sharp or flat piano notes are named for what letter name they’re immediately above (to the right on the keyboard) or below (to the left).

Reading sharp piano notes

The black key immediately to the right of the key “C” is called “C#,” pronounced “c sharp.”

Reading flat piano notes

The black key immediately to the left of “B” is called “Bb,” pronounced “b flat.”

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Piano note chart

This piano note chart introduces all the different notes you’ll find on your keyboard, and is essential for understanding how the space between the notes you play will determine the type of piano chord that is produced.

Piano notes chart

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What are major piano chords?

The most common triad, or three-note chord, is the major chord. Their popularity and versatility make them great piano chords for beginners to learn first.

Pro Tip: Listen to your favorite rock songs!

Chords are used in almost every song you hear. The opening chord of “Let It Be” by The Beatles is a C major chord. Listen to some of your favorite songs and see if you can hear the sound of major chords.

How do you play a major chord on the piano?

To play a major chord, begin by choosing a root note, which can be any of the keyboard notes From the root note, count up two whole steps. This note is the “third,” named for being the third note in the key beginning with the root note. From the third, count up one-and-a-half steps, or three half steps. This note is the “fifth.”

When you play these three keyboard notes together, you hear a major triad, which has a happy sound. Major keyboard chords are used in almost every rock and pop song.


Common major piano chords include:

  1. C major (C). C - E - G
  2. C# major (C#). C# - E# - G#
  3. D major (D). D - F# - A
  4. Eb major (Eb). Eb - G - Bb
  5. E major (E). E - G# - B
  6. F major (F). F - A - C
  7. F# major (F#). F# - A# - C#
  8. G major (G). G - B - D
  9. Ab major (Ab). Ab - C - Eb
  10. A major (A). A - C# - E
  11. Bb major (Bb). Bb - D - F
  12. B major (B). B - D# - F#
Major piano chords chart

What are intervals called in a major scale?

The intervals in a major chord are called a “major third,” the distance from the root note to the third, and a “perfect fifth,” the distance from the root to the fifth. We counted the steps from the root to the third and the third to the fifth. To find the interval of a perfect fifth above the root note, count three-and-a-half steps, or a total of seven half-steps.

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What are minor piano chords?

Minor chords, like major chords, contain three basic keyboard notes, a root note, third, and fifth. To play a minor chord, select any root note, then count three half-steps up to the third. From the third, count two whole-steps (or four half steps) to find the fifth. 

Minor chords are also very common in rock and pop music. “Comfortably Numb” is an example of a rock song that begins with a minor chord. Most rock and pop songs use a mixture of major and minor piano chords.

The third interval in a minor chord is called a “minor third.” The fifth interval in a minor chord is the same as in a major chord, the interval of a “perfect fifth.”


Common minor piano chords include:

  1. C minor (Cm). C - Eb - G
  2. C# minor (C#m). C# - E - G#
  3. D minor (Dm). D - F -A
  4. Eb minor (Ebm). Eb - Gb - Bb
  5. E minor (Em). E - G - B
  6. F minor (Fm). F - Ab - C
  7. F# minor (F#m). F# - A - C#
  8. G minor (Gm). G - Bb - D
  9. Ab minor (Abm). Ab - Cb - Eb
  10. A minor (Am). A - C - E
  11. Bb minor (Bbm). Bb - Db - F
  12. B minor (Bm). B - D - F#
Minor piano chords chart

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What are diminished piano chords?

The diminished triad uses a minor third, and a lowered fifth, called a “diminished fifth.” A diminished fifth is three whole-steps, or six half-steps, above the root note. To find the notes of a diminished chord, count a step-and-a-half from the root to the third, and then a step-and-a-half from the third to the fifth. 

Are diminished chords used in rock songs?

Diminished keyboard chords are less common than major and minor chords, but are still frequently used in rock and pop songs. They have a spooky, tense sound. The most common use of a diminished chord is to transition between two other, more stable-sounding chords. You can hear a diminished chord used in this way in the song “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys.


Common diminished piano chords include:

  1. C diminished (Cdim). C - Eb - Gb
  2. C# diminished (C#dim). C# - E - G
  3. D diminished (Ddim). D - F - Ab
  4. D# diminished (D#dim). D# - F# - A
  5. E diminished (Edim). E - G - Bb
  6. F diminished (Fdim). F - Ab - Cb
  7. F# diminished (F#dim). F# - A - C
  8. G diminished (Gdim). G - Bb - Db
  9. G# diminished (G#dim). G# - B - D
  10. A diminished (Adim). A - C - Eb
  11. A# diminished (A#dim). A# - C# - E
  12. B diminished (Bdim). B - D - F
Diminished piano chords chart

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What are augmented piano chords?

Augmented chords use a major third and a raised, or “augmented fifth.” The interval of an augmented fifth is four whole-steps, or eight half-steps up from the root note. Augmented chords have a very distinct, unusual sound to most peoples’ ears.

Like diminished chords, augmented chords are most often used to transition between more stable sounds in rock and pop music. One example of this is the song “Crying” performed by Roy Orbison, where an augmented chord is used in the prechorus.


Common augmented piano chords include:

  1. C augmented (Caug). C - E - G#
  2. C# augmented (C#aug). C# - E# - G##
  3. D augmented (Daug). D - F# - A#
  4. D# augmented (D#aug). D# - F## - A##
  5. E augmented (Eaug). E - G# - B#
  6. F augmented (Faug). F - A - C#
  7. F# augmented (F#aug). F# - A# - C##
  8. G augmented (Gaug). G - B - D#
  9. G# augmented (G#aug). G# - B# - D##
  10. A augmented (Aaug). A - C# - E#
  11. A# augmented (A#aug). A# - C## - E##
  12. B augmented (Baug). B - D# - F##

Augmented piano chords chart

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Ready to play Piano?

Learning the different types of chords and how to play them on the piano is a lot of fun, and opens up doors to understanding and playing all types of music. As you learn more songs, and even write your own, you’ll find endless combinations of piano or keyboard chords that create different sounds and moods. 

At School of Rock, our students are able to learn theory, apply what they learn to their instrument, rehearse with a band, and then get on stage and perform a rock concert! Piano lessons are a great way to learn to play and understand music, although, without a concrete goal to work toward, it’s common for piano and keyboard students to only learn the most basic piano chords or parts of songs.

Having a concert to perform with your friends at School of Rock is an effective way to motivate yourself to practice hard, learn songs from beginning to end, and achieve a personal best each season.

All the basic piano chords in one epic tutorial

Major chords


A major triad includes three notes and these can be referred to as the root, major third and perfect fifth. To explain it in plain English, this means that the notes in the chord are the first, the third and the fifth notes in the related scale.

We can compare the C Major Scale with the C Major chord:

C Major scale: C – D – E – F – G – A – B
C major scale

C Major chord: C – E – G
C major chord

Formula and steps

A good way to lessen the memorizing are to learn the formulas. The formula for a triad major chord is 1 - 3 - 5, which refers to the major scale degrees.

You could also learn by steps. From the 1st note go four half steps to the right to reach the 2nd note, and from the 2nd note go three steps to the right to reach the 3rd note.

Make use of

How and when to use major triads? Since these are the most common of all chords, they are used in various music genres and in all kinds of situations. Major chords can be used exclusively in shorter sequences, whereas longer sequences in general also include minor chords.

Chord sequences that shows how major chords can be utilized:

1. CFG
2. CEmFG
3. CFAmG

In Roman numerals*:

1. I IV V
2. I iii IV V
3. I IV vi V

* Roman numerals describe chord intervals that can be used the same way in all keys. See a table over major keys including Roman numerals.

Other major chords

Let us continue with major 7 chords that are built by adding the seventh note in the related scale.

Comparing the C Major Scale with the C Major 7 chord:

C Major scale: C – D – E – F – G – A – B
C Major 7 chord: C – E – G – B

There are also Major 6th chords with the sixth note in the scale added to a triad. These are, however, written without the abbreviation “maj” and sometimes this category is called added 6th. Relevant here is also the less common 6/9, or 6add9 (6th with an added major 9th).

Comparing the C Major Scale with C6 and C6/9:

C Major scale: C – D – E – F – G – A – B
C6 chord: C – E – G – A
C6/9 chord: C – E – G – A – D

Next type to know about is Major ninth (maj9). This chord is built by adding a major third to a major seventh chord. Maj9 must not be confused with the Dominant 9th.

Comparing the C Major Scale with Cmaj9:

C Major scale: C – D – E – F – G – A – B
C Major 9 chord: C – E – G – B – D

Rather unusual is the Major eleventh (maj11), which more correctly is written maj9(#11) since the eleventh normally is raised a semi-tone. This is because of the dissonance that otherwise occur between the major third and the eleventh.

Comparing the C Major Scale with Cmaj11, or Cmaj9(#11):

C Major scale: C – D – E – F – G – A – B
Cmaj11 (not so common in practice): C – E – G – B – D – F
Cmaj9#11: C – E – G – B – D – F#

Next is the Major thirteenth (maj13), which is built by adding a 13th. This chord includes seven notes, but to make it more practical, some notes (the least important for the chord color, which especially include the eleventh) are normally left out. Maj13 not to be confused with the dominant 13th.

Comparing the C Major Scale with Cmaj13:

C Major scale: C – D – E – F – G – A – B
C Major 13 chord: C – E – G – B – D – A
(the 11th, F in the case of Cmaj13, is normally excluded)

To mention is also maj13#11:
Cmaj13#11: C – E – G – B – D – F# – A

See links above or use the search box for diagrams (some of the less common categories are not presented).

Alternative chord symbols

Besides the major chord symbol that is presented on this site, you may find alternatives, including the following instead of C:

CMaj (relative common symbol there “Maj” is written out as the abbreviation for major)
C△ (the triangle is sometimes used in piano sheets as a symbol for major)
CM (here a capital letter is being used for “major”, which are not recommended due to the possible confusing with a “minor” symbol)
Cma (uncommon symbol there “ma” is written out as the abbreviation for major)

CM7 or C△7 are alternative chord names used instead for Cmaj7 (the triangle is sometimes also used in piano sheets as a single symbol for major seventh).

CM9 or C△9 are alternative chord names used instead for Cmaj9, CM11 or C△11 are alternative chord names used instead for Cmaj11 and CM13 or C△13 are alternative chord names used instead for Cmaj13.

CM6 is an alternative chord name sometimes used instead for C6.

Additionally, C13, which is an extended chord, could be written Cmaj9(add13).

Chord categories

Major chordsMinor chordsSeventh chordsExtended chordsSus chordsDim chordsAug ChordsAdd ChordsAltered Chords


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