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Music with Ease > Piano Chords for Beginners 5: Learn How to Play Major and Minor Piano Chords in One Easy Lesson

Piano Chords for Beginners 5: Learn How to Play Major and Minor Piano Chords in One Easy Lesson

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In this free beginner piano lesson, learn the difference between Major and Minor chords and how to play them quickly and easily!

When you listen to popular piano music, what creates the tone or the atmosphere of the song? Why are some songs bright and cheerful, such as the Beatles' 'The Yellow Submarine' or 'When I'm Sixty Four'? And why are other songs filled with sadness and pathos, such as the Beatles' 'Yesterday' or 'The Fool on the Hill'?

Much of the difference is due to the common use of Major chords in the cheerful songs, and Minor chords in the sad songs.

Basic Major and Minor chords are just three notes played together. So it is fascinating that this dramatic difference in tone, between a Major chord and a Minor chord, is achieved by just a slight adjustment of one of the three notes in the chord!

How to Make a Minor Chord from a Major Chord

To construct a Minor chord, you take the corresponding Major chord and simply lower the middle note by one half-step or semitone.

On your piano or keyboard, the keys that are directly adjacent to one another are one half-step or one semitone apart. The adjacent note can be either black or white. So to lower a note by one half-step or semitone you simply go down to the next adjacent piano key on the left.

For example if you lower the following notes by one half-step:

-- F# becomes F,

-- A becomes Ab,

-- C becomes B, and

-- F becomes E.

Let's Look at an Example

We saw in our article in this series about how to play 'Away in a Manger', that:

-- the D Major chord is: D F# A.

To find the D Minor chord, you lower the middle note of the D Major chord by one half-step or semitone from F# to F. Therefore,

-- the D Minor chord is: D F A.

Play these two chords one after the other and hear how different their tone is!

Chords are represented by chord symbols in books of popular piano music. Here are the chord symbols for these two chords:

-- D Major chord: D

-- D Minor chord: Dm

What About All the Other Types of Chords?

If you look in a book of popular music, such as one of those in Hal Leonard's Fake Book series, you will see many other types of chords that are used in the accompaniments. These include Seventh chords, Sixth chords, Diminished chords, Augmented chords and Suspended chords.

In a similar way to the relationship between the Major and Minor chords, all of these other chord types have simple relationships with one another. It is quite easy to learn to play all of these chord types without reading complex musical scores, memorizing huge numbers of individual chords or counting up endless rows of half-steps or semitones.

Once you understand the simple key that unlocks the huge variety of piano chords, you can learn beautiful embellishment techniques for these chords. Then you can create your own unique accompaniments for your favorite style of popular music - with ease!

About the Author:

Betty Wagner of Music With Ease has been teaching music for over 30 years. Her unique multimedia ebooks make learning to play the piano fun and easy -- all at very low cost! Do you want to learn to read music notes? It's simple with the Reading Music Notes with Ease ebook, featuring quirky cartoon characters, embedded sound clips and flash cards. Or what about learning piano chords for the beginner? The ebook, Playing Popular Music With Ease, takes you step by step from the simplest chords to advanced accompaniment styles. And why not expand your knowledge of scales which are the basis of all the chords with the scales ebook: /play-music-scales.html

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See also:
Middle Ages Music
Renaissance Music
Baroque Era Music
Classical Era Music
Romantic Era Music
Nationalist Era Music
Turn of Century Music

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