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chords

How Popular Chord Progression Works – A Simple Guide

by Erik Thiede on January 18, 2015

What is a popular chord progression? Chord progressions are actually series of chords which are played one after the other to produce a harmonious tune. By now you have learned the different piano chords and may have memorized them a bit. The knowledge you have about chords will help you a lot in playing the piano. Here is the reason why…

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When you look at a music sheet, did you notice that there are certain chords that loop around the entire music piece? These chords follow the popular chord progression loop. They are said to be popular because you cannot only find them in one music sheet but also in other compositions. The only differences they have are the time signatures and the notes being played on the music sheet.

How are this popular chord progression written? They can be written in two ways. One is through the Roman numeral system and the other one is by the simple use of numbers. The basic chord progression is called the “three chord key” or “3-note triads” which is comprised of three chords that when played together, creates a harmonious melody.

The most basic and popular chord progression is I – IV – V or 1 – 4 – 5. Take the key of C for example, if it follows this chord progression, you will have C – F – G. After playing the third chord of the chord progression order, you will loop around and go back to the first chord. Sometimes one of these chords will be changed into a minor chord that hymns together with the major chords, other times some composers insert the minor chords instead of just changing one of the major chords.

I – IV – V can be changed into I – ii – V which stands for C – Dm – G. Notice the smaller Roman numerals are used to represent the minor chords such as the D minor. However, most composers use numbers instead of the roman numerals. An example for this is the 1 – 6 – 2 – 5 popular chord progression which represents C – Am – Dm – G7. Your guide in order to learn chord progression will always be your knowledge of the fifteen key signatures as well as the different piano chords that’s why it is so important for you to memorize those basics.

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The first key to remember when trying to make sense of the piano chord is that they’re based on…you guessed it…piano scales! In our examples, we will use the key of “C” but the formula applies to all keys.

Remember that the major piano scale for the key of C is C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C – where the first “C” is the root of all chords in the key of “C”.

Click Here To Learn What A Piano Chord Looks Like And How It Works!

One more thing: We use the terms lowered or raised a lot below.

  • “lowered” means shifted down one-half step or made flat (flat The Piano Chord   Making Sense of This Versatile Music Concept).
  • “raised” means shifted up one-half step or made sharp (sharp The Piano Chord   Making Sense of This Versatile Music Concept).

We will reference this scale in our examples below.

There are Four Main Piano Chord Types each are further distinguished by what’s often referred to as their quality (Major, Minor, Augmented, Diminished, Suspended):

  • Triad
  • Seventh
  • Extended
  • Other

Let’s explore the construction of the triad chords…

The TRIAD PIANO CHORD:

Remember triads are the simplest chord pattern consisting of only three notes.

triad chord The Piano Chord   Making Sense of This Versatile Music Concept

Further, these three-note (triad) chords can be one of the following:

Major:

Symbol: M or maj, implied if no symbol is present

This the probably the most basic and familiar chord form.

It consist of the 1st, 3rd and 5th note in a major piano scale.

Example: Cmaj or CM = C E G

Minor:

Symbol: m

This the probably the second most basic chord form.

It consist of the 1st, lowered 3rd and 5th notes in the scale.

Example:

Cm = C Eb G

Diminished:

Symbol: dim or o

Just like the name suggest, a diminished triad chord is a minor triad chord with the last note diminished or lowered one-half step.

It consist of the 1st, lowered 3rd and lowered 5th notes in the scale.

Example: Cdim or Co = C Eb Gb

Augmented:

Symbol: aug or +

Just like the name suggest, an augmented triad chord will last note in the chord augmented or raised one-half step.

It consist of the 1st, 3rd and raised 5th notes in the scale.

Example: Caug or C+ = C E G#

Suspended or Suspended Fourth:

Symbol: sus or sus4

Just like the name suggest, a suspended chord is a chord that when played doesn’t sound “resolved” The listener is sort left “hanging” or suspended, waiting for another note or chord to finish the sequence. It’s like the following incomplete sentence: “Once you play a chord…”

It ends without giving you what you need to complete the thought.

In a suspended chord the 3rd note is typically replaced by the 4th note.

It consist of the 1st, 4th and 5th notes (sometimes the 3rd note is also played)

Example: Csus or Csus4 = C F G

THE SEVENTH PIANO CHORD

EXTENDED CHORDS

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Top Five Ways To Play Piano By Ear

December 30, 2014

Learn scales and try to pick them out in the music you hear. One of the top five ways to play piano by ear is by learning (at the very least) what scales are and what they sound like. Scales are a series of octave-specific notes that are played in a particular pattern or order. […]

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Free Piano Chords – They’re The Path To Beautiful Music

December 13, 2014

Piano music is much more beautiful when it’s played with free piano chords because chords create harmony. Built from single notes starting with the first note or root of the simple major triad chords are the result of playing a root note (also called the tonic or degree I), a third tone above the first […]

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Seventh Piano Chords In It’s Many Forms

December 9, 2014

Seventh piano chords are just like the triad chords PLUS the 7th note in the scale. It’s used a lot in jazz, gospel and blues piano music. Just like with the triads, seventh piano chords can have several forms: Click Here To Get The Lowdown On Seventh Piano Chords! Dominant Seventh: Symbol: 7 The dominant […]

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Top 10 Ways To Improvise On The Piano

November 6, 2014

1. Use fake books. Fake books, as one of the top 10 ways to improvise on the piano, are gentle introductions to what could be interpreted as the Wild West of improvisation. Improvisation is largely based on freedom of expression. Without having a good foundation of the basics, beginners may feel intimidated by the possibilities. […]

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Piano for Beginners – Different Ways of Learning

September 14, 2014

There is a bit of a mini-revolution going on in the world of piano teachers. And it all has to do with teaching piano for beginners. You see, there’s the old way of teaching piano. This way focuses on learning notes, learning to site read music, and learning where each individual note is on the […]

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Piano Chords – More Than Just a Group of Notes

August 14, 2014

At their most basic, piano chords are formed by playing three or more notes simultaneously. The combinations that result set the mood of a musical piece – happy, sad, powerful, soulful, etc. Historically, major chords have always evoked positive emotions while minor piano chords evoke the opposite. That’s a fairly simplistic observation, but it gives […]

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Top 10 Ways To Effectively Practice Piano

April 21, 2014

Let us start by admitting piano practice isn’t always fun. At times, it can be as grueling a task as mopping the floor or teaching your York Terrier to roll over (even when he hasn’t done it for the hundredth time). The key thing about piano practice however, is that it isn’t really supposed to […]

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E Chord Chart for Piano

August 26, 2009

Using the the piano chord chart table, Here are the E Chords: E Chord Name Symbols Chords Notes* E Major (implied if without notation) EM or Emaj or E E G# B E Minor Em E G B E Augmented Eaug or E+ E G# C E Diminished Edim or Eo E G A# E […]

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