• Top 3 Chords You Must Know In All Twelve Keys And Why

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    You arrived at this page because you’re interested in learning the top 3 chords you must know in all twelve keys.

    Attention: This lesson is written with players of the beginners skill level in mind. Therefore, if you’re an intermediate or advanced player, you might find it super basic.

    Although there are many chord types and classes to learn as a piano player; ranging from triads to seventh and ninth chords, there are top 3 chords that everyone should learn in all twelve keys and we’re covering them in this lesson.

    In addition to learning these chords, you’ll also be learning “why” you need to master these chords in all twelve keys.

    Alright, let’s get started!

    A Review On The Scale-Tone Chords In The Key

    There are 12 major keys on the piano and each of the keys have 7 unique root notes that can be used to form a variety of chords that are generally referred to as scale-tone chords.

    For example, in the key of C major:

    …the following tones are root notes for chords in the key of C major:








    “Check Out The Triads In The Key Of C Major…”

    On the first tone (C):

    …is the C major triad.

    On the second tone (D):

    …is the D minor triad.

    On the third tone (E):

    …is the E minor triad.

    On the fourth tone (F):

    …is the F major triad.

    On the fifth tone (G):

    …is the G major triad.

    On the sixth tone (A):

    …is the A minor triad.

    On the seventh tone (B):

    …is the B diminished triad.

    Every other major key has it own set of scale-tone chords that are similar to scale-tone chords in other keys as well. For example, the C major triad:

    …which is chord 1 in the key of C major:

    …is also chord 4 in the key of G major:

    …and chord 5 in the key of F major:

    That said, let’s go ahead and learn about the important chords in the major key.

    “What Are The Most Important Chords In The Major Key?”

    Although all the scale-tone chords are important, there are scale-tone chords that are more important to the key and that’s because they have the same quality with the key.

    “Here’s What You Need To Know…”

    The word major as used in the term major key is used to describe the quality of the key. So the quality of the major key is major and the quality of the minor key is minor.

    Due to the fact that the quality of the key is major, scale-tone chords that share the same quality with the key are the most important chords in the key.

    A closer look at all the scale-tone chords in the key of C major would show you the scale-tone chords that are of the utmost importance.

    “Check Them Out…”

    • C major (Chord 1)
    • D minor (Chord 2)
    • E minor (Chord 3)
    • F major (Chord 4)
    • G major (Chord 5)
    • A minor (Chord 6)
    • B diminished (Chord 7)

    In the scale-tone chords listed above, the chords of the following chords are the most important to the key:

    • C major (Chord 1)
    • F major (Chord 4)
    • G major (Chord 5)

    Beyond knowing that the C major, F major, and G major triads are the most important chords in the key of C major, the emphasis is on the tones of the scale they are formed from. So, it’s important to note that the most important scale-tone chords in any key are chord 1, chord 4, and chord 5.

    Final Words

    Chords that have the same quality with the prevalent key are commonly referred to as primary chords because their quality resonate with the key.

    Although all scale tone chords are important, primary chords are so vital that you can play on the major key without them. Therefore, even if you’re unable to learn and apply all the scale-tone chords, you can pass with these top 3 chords.

    All the best!

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    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.


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