• Four Goals Beginners And Intermediate Players Should Have While Learning Chords

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,General Music,Piano,Playing By Ear,Theory

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    The importance of learning chords cannot be overemphasized.

    A chord is produced when at least three related notes (that are agreeable or not) are played or heard together or separately.

    The earliest and intermediate stages of your development as a keyboard-playing musician should be dedicated to the study and mastery of a variety of chords for two primary purposes:

    1. Harmonization

    2. Accompaniment

    Eventually, a keyboard-playing musician should be able to explore the secondary purposes of chords; ranging from arpeggios and broken chords, to reharmonization, etc. But his/her basic role (especially) in a band situation is accompaniment.

    Goal #1 – “To Learn Triads And Seventh Chords…”

    Although there are tons of chords a keyboard player should be conversant with, there are four triad types that every beginner should be acquainted with:

    The major triad

    The minor triad

    The augmented triad

    The diminished triad

    …and five seventh chord types every intermediate player should be acquainted with:

    The major seventh chord

    The minor seventh chord

    The dominant seventh chord

    The half-diminished seventh chord

    The diminished seventh chord

    That’s pretty a handful right?

    Goal #2 – “To Be Thorough With Chords”

    All the required triads and seventh chords should be known in all the keys in root position and every possible inversion:

    1st inversion

    2nd inversion

    3rd inversion (for seventh chords only)

    The color pattern and finger placement of chords should be observed. For example, the following chords have the same color pattern and finger placement:

    A major seventh chord:

    D major seventh chord:

    E major seventh chord:

    …which is entirely different from the color patterns and finger placement of the following chords:

    C major seventh chord:

    F major seventh chord:

    Goal #3 – “To Understand The Application Of Chords…”

    At the beginning and intermediate phases of the keyboardist’s development, he or she should be interested in learning how chords are applied.

    Among other chord types, it is important to know the application of major, minor, diminished, and dominant chords in the major and minor key.

    Chord recognition is not also left out. A keyboard player should be able to hear and recognize chords whether they are played separately or in a chord progression.

    #4 – “To Understand Smoothness…”

    The term smoothness within the chord progression context means the close movement of chord tones.

    In the key of C major:

    …the 1-chord and 4-chord are the C major and F major triads respectively:



    If both chords are played successively as a chord progression, there won’t be smoothness. But using the concept of inversion and voice leading principles, we can have a smooth progression:



    Here’s another smooth 1-4 chord progression:



    Keyboard harmony and accompaniment sounds a lot better when played smoothly and that’s what makes smoothness an important aspect of chord progression and songs.

    Final Words

    Chords are great harmonic resources. However, after learning chords for a long while, the musician gets to the point where he/she will exhaust all the essential chord types that should be a part of their chordal vocabulary.

    At that point, he/she would proceed into learning chord voicing techniques, concepts, and stylizations. We’ll explore these and more in a subsequent lesson.

    All the best and thank you for your time.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku (aka - "Dr. Pokey") is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.


    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Carolyn

    Thanks Dr. Pokey. This is where I am striving to get to. I know it’s a process
    and I am willing to put forth the effort. I love the information you share. I have gained so much knowledge from the Information you and Jermaine share. God bless you all.


    2 do my homework for me

    On the off chance that you have a novice’s guide, fantastic. If not, simply google it. Print out harmony diagrams. You could likewise realize which ones are well known in your preferred band’s tunes, which will urge you to rehearse more since you will at that point have the option to play your main tunes.


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