wikiHow to Learn Music Chords

Learning chords on any instrument will help you play along with your favorite songs and improvise whenever you like. Chords on the piano are easy to play once you get the hang of it, and though it may seem like there are thousands of them, once you get the pattern down for making them you can learn them all.


  1. Image titled Learn Music Chords Step 1
    Learn the major scale on the piano. This is a generic form of any major scale read in terms of half-steps or distance from one key to another. To play any major scale find a root note, or the key that the scale is based off of. Then go two half-steps to the right. Example: start on C and go two half-steps to the right and you are now on D. A whole scale goes: root, 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, root. You can start this on any key.
  2. Image titled Learn Music Chords Step 2
    Understand how a chord gets its name count each note in the scale you just played. It goes up to 8, which is an octave. A major chord of any key has a root the third of the major scale and the fifth of a major scale. So let's take the A major chord for example, you will play an "A", a "C sharp", and an "E". "A" is the root, "C sharp" is the third in the A major scale, and "E" is the fifth in the A major scale. Now you can find any major chord you want. With a little counting, that is.
  3. Image titled Learn Music Chords Step 3
    Learn about chord inversions. Inversions of chords aren't hard once you find the notes in a chord. So far if you play a major scale the root note is going to be where you started counting and the third and fifth of the scale is going to be to the right of the root note. Sometimes you need the fifth to the left of the root note or both the third and the fifth to the left of the root note. All you have to do is find the same notes and move them around on the keyboard and you have an inversion of that chord. For example, you make a D chord using the method above. You will have D where you started counting, F sharp next, then A. You can then move A in front of D and have a chord that reads, from left to right, A, D, and F sharp. You can also move F sharp in front and get a chord that is still D major but has F sharp, A, then D.
  4. Image titled Learn Music Chords Step 4
    Learn the sevenths. The sevenths is a type of chord that has the notes of a major chord and the seventh note in the major scale of that chord. Lets stick with D major. The seventh of any scale is always one key directly to the left of the root so for D the seventh will be C sharp. In your chord you will now have D, F sharp, A, and C sharp. Inversions work similar to above all you have to do is add the seventh note.
  5. Image titled Learn Music Chords Step 5
    Learn about minor chords. Normally when someone mentions a minor chord it affects the third of the chord. Lets take the C major chord, it has the note C, E, and G. To make a minor chord you will take the third note of the C major scale, which is E, and move it one half step directly to the left. Your chord now has C, D sharp can also be known as E flat, and G. You can do this to any other numbered note in the major scale except the forth and the first. If done to the forth it will become a major third and thus be redundant, if done to the first you will be changing the key of the chord or making it the major seventh of the scale.
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    Learn about octave chords. An octave chord has at least two of the same notes. So take a C major octave chord. It will have a C, an E, a G, and another C. It could also have an E, a G, a C, and another E, or a G, a C, an E, and another G. These being inversions of the same chord.
  7. Image titled Learn Music Chords Step 7
    Learn power chords. Power chords are normally played on a guitar, but you can play them on the piano too. It is basically the first of a major scale(the root) and the fifth of that same major scale. It's only two notes so it's not that hard. It can also be thought of as a major chord only with the third of the chord gone.
  8. Image titled Learn Music Chords Step 8
    A diminished chord. A diminished chord is the first of a major scale with a minor third and a minor fifth. Lets take a C chord. It has the notes C, E, and G. To make it a diminished C you would make the third or the E a minor third so D sharp also known as E flat, and you would make the fifth of the chord a minor fifth so G would now be F sharp, which can also be called G flat. Then you play it all together and you have C, D sharp, and F sharp.
    • This chord doesn't sound the best all by itself. It is meant for what is called a build up and the relief is a chord that sounds nicer by itself that is played right after. Try playing a diminished chord and then the major chord of the same key. You will be able to feel the relief of the major chord because of the tension of the diminished chord right before it. There are also other combinations of different chords that can be used to build up and relieve tension.
  9. Image titled Learn Music Chords Step 9
    Remember if you learn a new chord such as a Dsus4, said as D suspended fourth, that all you have to do is count to get a suspended fourth chord in another key.


  • The more you play these chords the faster you will be able to play them without counting.


  • If you get frustrated take a break.

Things You'll Need

  • Piano or keyboard of some sort.
  • Patience.

Article Info

Categories: Music Techniques