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#1022728 - 02/25/09 01:09 PM Chords, Chords and More Chords.......  
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 38
FishWagon Offline
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FishWagon  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 38
Dacula, GA
Well, the old instructor was right, I'm going to need a straightjacket...

He's been making me concentrate on chords and said I would need a straight jacket before it's over.

He's right. Triads, inversions, minors, majors, dimished, 7th's, 6th's, etc...

How do you all keep it in your minds? I understand how you get to a minor from a major, to a 7th,down to a 6th etc... but I just seem to have a big problem memorizing the chords and keeping my fingers from stumbling all over each other...

He says I'm making incredible progress, that it's obvious I'm practicing every day, etc.... but I seemed to have hit a roadblock.

Anyway, I guess I just wanted to "scream out". Now back to practice.... laugh laugh laugh

Have a great day everyone,

Roland FP-7

Father, thank you, for letting me fly this flight, for the privilege of being able to be in this position, to be in this wondrous place, seeing all these many startling, wonderful things that you have created.

- Gordon Cooper, orbiting earth, 22May1963
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#1022729 - 02/25/09 04:17 PM Re: Chords, Chords and More Chords.......  
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 11,494
Rickster Online content
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Rickster  Online Content
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Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 11,494
Georgia, USA
Hi Rich,

I too am intrigued with all the different cords on the piano. In fact, there are so many variations of the same root cord that they seem to run together and all sound about the same to me. So, I tend to stick with the primary root majors, minors, 7ths, and diminished cords. Sophisticated cords do not necessarily sound sophisticated to me; they can sound odd and out of place, depending on the piece (to me anyway). To each his/her own I guess.

Take care,


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
#1022730 - 02/25/09 09:55 PM Re: Chords, Chords and More Chords.......  
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,228
Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,228
Boynton Beach, FL
Why not first focus on learning all the major chords (triads) in root position. The best way to do this is to understand how many half steps between the root and 3rd of the chord (4 half steps, or the interval of a major 3rd), and then how many half steps from the 3rd to the 5th (3 half steps, or minor 3rd). When you can play those easily, then build upon that by doing all the minor chords, in root position. Minor chords have 3 half-steps from root to 3rd, and 4 half steps from 3rd to 5th. Eventually you'll be able to "see" the chords on the keys before playing them.

Then work on all 1st inversion chords (major and then minor). These contain the same notes as the major triads, but between the bottom note and the middle note you have the minor 3rd (3 half steps) followed by a perfect 4th (5 half steps). 2nd inversions have the 4th on the bottom and major 3rd on top.

Diminished triads consist of minor 3rd/minor 3rd. Augmented chords (the opposite of diminished) contain major 3rd/major 3rd.

Now you're ready for 7th chords. You are just stacking another 3rd of some kind (major or minor) on top of a triad (usually major, minor, or diminished). But instead of thinking what kind of 3rd to put on top, it is best to think of the interval between the root of the chord and the top note.

Major 7ths contain a major triad with a major 7th between root and top note. For example, C major 7 = C-E-G-B, the distance between C and B = major 7th. To make a dominant 7th (also called major-minor 7th) in that same example would be C-E-G-Bb, the minor 7th between C and B-flat.

The key is to build one concept upon another, and not move on to the next until you can do the first with ease. This will prevent the tangling of fingers you speak of smile .

private piano/voice teacher FT

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#1022731 - 02/26/09 03:27 AM Re: Chords, Chords and More Chords.......  
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,803
Studio Joe Offline
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Studio Joe  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,803
Decatur, Texas
It's much easier fot me to think scale degrees instead of intervals. For instance a few basic chords:

major triad 1-3-5 in any order

minor = flat 3

augmented = sharp 5

diminished = flat 3 and flat 5 add 6 (for full diminished)

Joe Whitehead ------ Texas Trax
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#1022732 - 02/26/09 08:05 AM Re: Chords, Chords and More Chords.......  
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 331
majones Offline
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majones  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 331
Deep East Texas Piney Woods
Not necessarily recommending lead sheet for you, however, hitch hiking on the way the thread is moving. I use lead sheet thus only have to remember how to make the chords shown on that specific piece of sheet music, i.e. A, Am, A7 or perhaps Amaj7, etc.

Point I'm making. Once the realization of what pattern (R + 4 + 3) for Major, minor, diminished is automatic -- then an understanding of how to get the extensions;
6th = +2.
7th = +3.
maj7 = +4.
Is really about all you have to master. If the song has something beyond that deal with it if and when it comes up. Love my #2 pencil with the big eraser....

How many chords are there in a song? Four or five in the ones I play; so the chore is really not all that intimidating. IMHO.

Well yes then there are the inversion, can't get around the inversions. But, that's just one more skill you have to add.

Good luck


#1022733 - 02/26/09 08:58 AM Re: Chords, Chords and More Chords.......  
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,167
Seaside_Lee Offline
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Seaside_Lee  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,167
Blackpool, UK
Hi Rich,

yeah I agree with all above and especially majones. Are we talking popular music here and not classical? if we are then most memorable popular songs that maybe you find yourself singing in the shower or just humming along to (the ones that stick in your craw i.e. most top 20 hits - but, not all!) tend to follow very simple chord changes and as majones says probably no more than 5 different chords (many times less).

If they followed unusual progressions or had many complicated changes of keys and way out extensions you'd never be able to sing 'em out loud in the shower ha

If you are going to get in to re-arranging tunes in a jazzy way then the journey is going to be more difficult! take a little longer and space you out more but, for many that journey is a journey of love.

I would say that playing the piano is a lifetime of discovery I'm discovering new things all the time and I've only been at it for 5 years.

trying not to eat the whole pie in one sitting just take small chunks and if your piano teacher feels you are making good progress then unless you have reason to doubt him then I would say roll with it smile

Edit to add: Just a thought, It might be a good idea for you to ask your teacher to show you how and where these chords come together in actual pieces of music and then the theory may start to make a little more sense?


Twitter: @Seaside_Lee
#1153972 - 02/27/09 02:38 PM Re: Chords, Chords and More Chords....... [Re: Seaside_Lee]  
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 786
Serge88 Offline
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Serge88  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 786
I agree with Lee, for me it's 90% fun and passion and 10% commitment. sick

“Being able to hear recorded music freed up loads of musicians that couldn't necessarily afford to learn to read or write music. With recording, it was emancipation for the people.”
-Keith Richards

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