Basic Piano Chords

The chords every piano and keyboard player should know are the basic Major, minor, Augmented, and diminished chords, and seventh chords. These are the most common chords and are relatively easy to play.

These chords are shown with the root note C. Other root notes are possible by transposing these chords. For example, a C Major chord (C, E, G) can be transposed to D. This will result in a D Major chord (D, F-sharp, A).

These chords are constructed from musical intervals. Each chord has:
  1. A Root note
  2. A note a Major third (M3) or minor third (m3) above the Root
  3. A note a Perfect fifth (P5), Augmented fifth (A5), or diminished fifth above the Root
  • And seventh chords also have a note a Major seventh (M7), minor seventh (m7), or diminished seventh (d7) above the Root.

The basic chords:
  • Major - Root, M3, P5
  • minor - Root, m3, P5
  • Augmented (Aug) - Root, M3, A5
  • diminished (dim) - Root, m3, d5

The seventh chords:
  • 7 - Root, M3, P5, m7
  • M7 - Root, M3, P5, M7
  • m7 - Root, m3, P5, m7
  • dim7 - Root, m3, d5, d7
  • half dim7 - Root, m3, d5, m7


If we choose a Major chord for example we begin by picking a Root note. We could pick any of the 12 notes but in this case we will choose G. The next note we need is a Major third (M3) above the Root, which in this case would be the note B. The final note we need is a Perfect fifth above the root, which in this case would be the note D. Now we have all three notes of our Major chord: G, B, and D.

For reference here is a diagram of the keyboard with the note names on it:

Now that you know these chords you might want to learn about chord inversion, chord symbols, or extended chords.