In the 300-pg course, “The Secrets To Playing Piano By Ear,” we cover the diatonic chords of every major scale. Don’t worry if you don’t know what “diatonic” means — it’s just a fancy way of saying “pertaining to the major or minor scale,” the most common of all scales.
Each major key has a set of diatonic chords that naturally occur on each tone of the scale. To figure out these chords, just take every other note of the scale until you’ve got 3 notes pressed down. Then move over to the next tone of the scale and do the same thing, skipping every other note.
Here’s the key of C major:
Here’s what taking every other note of the scale looks like:
These are not only the diatonic chords of C major but the pattern all major keys follow.
In other words:
- The first degree of any major scale is major
- The second degree of any major scale is minor
- The third degree of any major scale is minor
- The fourth degree of any major scale is major
- The fifth degree of any major scale is major (or dominant7 when using 4 fingers)
- The sixth degree of any major scale is minor
- The seventh degree of any major scale is diminished (or half-diminished7 when using 4 fingers)
The 1st, 4th, and 5th chords are known as primary chords. Hands down, they occur much more frequently than the secondary/tertiary (2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th) chords of the key.
Want to learn more about diatonic chords? Check out my 300-pg course, “The Secrets To Playing Piano By Ear.”
- How to Instantly Figure Out Chords to Simple Melodies
- Learning to play natural minor scales
- How to take advantage of the power and versatility of primary chords
- Fancy chords you can outright steal!
- Who Else Wants To Learn What Borrowed Chords Are?
- Ask Jermaine: “The key to proper piano chord fingering”