• How To Figure Out The “Natural” Chords Of Every Key

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano,Scales,Theory

    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:

    C major

    D minor

    E minor

    F major

    G major

    A minor

    B diminished


    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 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.”


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    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

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


    { 4 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 richard

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    2 Jermaine Griggs

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    3 wayne williams

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