What is a Keyboard Chord?
Keyboard chords are made when more than one note is played at the same time to create harmony. Two notes together will make a very simple chord, but many notes can be played together to create a blended sound which can be very complex. Learning chords is a fundamental area of learning to play keyboard or piano. Pianoforall is a great resource to learn in an ingenious way. For a one time payment you will have lifetime access to over 200 hundred videos explaining how to make chords and how to play your favorite songs.
How is a keyboard chord made?
A keyboard chord is made when two or more notes are played together at the same time to create harmony.
The most common type of chord is a triad chord. This contains 3 notes.
A chord is given its name based on what the root note is. This could be any key on the keyboard. The rest of the chord is built with more notes. In the case of a triad, this would typically be the third and the fifth of the root note. For example if our root note was C, a C major chord would consist of the third and the fifth of the C major scale. In this case that would be E and G. Giving us C-E-G as the C major chord.
Chords are built on different intervals. An interval is the distance between to different notes and is measured by either a half step or a whole step. The interval between two notes will determine what the chord will sound like.
Half Step: This is also called a semi-tone. This is the distance between a black note and an adjacent white note on a keyboard.
Whole Step: This is a tone. Generally, this is the distance between 2 adjacent white keys on the keyboard. The exception to this is B –>C and E –> F. These are both semitones.
Common Keyboard Chords.
When it comes to learning keyboard chords, you don’t need to learn every single keyboard chord ever written. It is more important to know the basic keyboard chords. From this base you can then start to add other intervals to make the chord sound more interesting. For example you may play an A major chord, A-C#-E but want to make it sound more interesting my adding a major 2nd, in this case a B.
I’m going to include a chart here of some of the basic keyboard chords that are out there. Then in the next section of the article include more detail specifically about major and minor chords.
Now the above graphic only shows major chords, but this is very easy to change to suit for minor keyboard chords. All you have to do is lower the middle note, the third, by a half step.
Major Keyboard Chords.
Major chords, are often described as happy chords. In this section I want to briefly talk about how to make a major chord from any root note. We will use C major as an example. We know C is the root note, You can use the above image to help orientate yourself on the keyboard, or use your own keyboard if you have it in front of you
If we want to make a triad chord, from the root note of C, we move 4 half steps to find the third. Then 3 more half steps to find the fifth. Remember in this case, moving from E –> F is 1 half step. And if we have done this correctly we will have C-E-G. That’s how we make a major triad!
We also have particular names for each of the intervals in this case of our C major triad, we have C –> E which is a major third and C –> G which is a perfect fifth. And this is a general rule across the board. A major triad is built with the Root note, a major 3rd and a perfect fifth.
Minor Keyboard Chords.
So This is very similar to the major chord, but with one half step difference that I have already alluded to earlier.
As major chords are described as happy sounding, minor chords are the opposite and sound more somber or sad.
All the same rules apply to minor chords that apply to major keyboard chords. However if we wanted to work out C minor, we would only count up 3 half steps to find the minor 3rd (Eb in this case.) And then to complete the triad we add the perfect fifth which is still G in this case.
Music theory can be quite overwhelming at the start and can seem quite complicated. However as with most things, if you are putting your knowledge into practice then this will start to make much more sense.
My advice is get yourself in front of a keyboard or piano and start practicing putting together different keyboard chords.
If you would like a whistle stop summary of a lot of what we just talked about, check out this really helpful video I found on YouTube!