Piano Chords

Learn to read chord symbols in a visual and intuitive way using real music
4.9 (28 ratings) Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a
course's star rating by considering a number of different factors
such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the
likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
816 students enrolled
$25
Take This Course
  • Lectures 123
  • Contents Video: 6 hours
    Other: 1 min
  • Skill Level Intermediate Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
Wishlisted Wishlist

How taking a course works

Discover

Find online courses made by experts from around the world.

Learn

Take your courses with you and learn anywhere, anytime.

Master

Learn and practice real-world skills and achieve your goals.

About This Course

Published 6/2015 English

Course Description

"After buying loads of books on piano chords nothing has come close to this excellent course … it has to be the best on Udemy" - Michael Fallon

"Even if you already know your scales and chords, this course brings you through the variations so that you can do more than just play a triad each and every time." - Richard

This course teaches you how to interpret basic chord symbols at the piano, and explains them:

  • at the keyboard
  • in a visual and intuitive way
  • using real pieces of music

I'll teach you concepts using original techniques that I've tested on hundreds of students over a decade, including signed artists and other industry professionals. By the end you'll know many ways of playing any chord symbol that's likely to crop up in popular music. (I'm working on a follow-up course that teaches more advanced chords that you find in jazz.)

What this course is

This course shows you many ways of playing:

  • major triads (e.g. C, Eb, F#)
  • minor triads (e.g. Dm, Fm, G#m)
  • sus chords (e.g. Esus, Gsus, Bbsus)
  • 7th chords (e.g. F#7, Am7, Cmaj7), and
  • slash chords (e.g. Ab/Eb, Bm/E, Dmaj7/E)

so that you can:

  • read a "lead sheet" (a score with a melody and chord symbols but no LH)
  • accompany yourself singing using just chord symbols, and
  • understand how the chord symbols fit a score

I'll show you many ways of playing each chord so that you can not only work out what chord to play but also turn it into a complete accompaniment.

What this course isn't

This course doesn't teach you how to play the piano - it assumes you know how to play the piano already. And the pieces used are mostly extracts that are designed to illustrate certain types of chord, so the goal isn't to play complete pieces but to acquire skills that you can apply to other pieces.

Also, this isn't a music composition course: I don't talk very much about why certain chords sound good together. However, if you are interested in learning about chord progressions this is a good starting point.

In conclusion

So, if you've ever wondered what Dm7/G means then give this course a try! You can always get a refund if you decide it isn't for you.

Best of luck on your musical journey,

Benedict

What are the requirements?

  • You need to be able to play the piano already
  • Even though chords are explained at the keyboard, you need to be able to read music to do the exercises

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Interpret basic chord symbols, including major and minor triads, sus chords, and 7th chords
  • Have multiple ways of playing the same chord, so that you can choose the one that sounds best

What is the target audience?

  • This course is for people who can already play the piano and read music, and who'd like a solid foundation in how to interpret chord symbols on the piano
  • This course is not for people learning to play the piano from scratch, or for people wanting to learn how to interpret chord symbols on other instruments

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.

Curriculum

Section 1: Introduction
What you can expect from this course
Preview
02:42
Bonus, 13/01/16: all the scores in 4 PDF's
Article
00:58

A chord is just more than one note playing at a time.

Section 2: Root-5th-root chords
01:32

An intervals is the distance between 2 notes.

Intervals have names like 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

06:35

A 5th is either:

  • 2 white notes with 3 white notes in between, or
  • 2 black notes with 2 black notes in between,

except B-F# and Bb-F.

Example: "To Build a Home"
Preview
01:29
Exercise: harmonize "With or Without You"
Preview
01:44
Solution: "With or Without You" harmonized
Preview
03:30
04:08

A root-5th-root chord is a 5th with the root repeated at the top.

Example: "Rolling in the Deep"
02:40
Example: "The Heart Asks Pleasure First"
01:58
Exercise: harmonize "Fields of Gold"
01:24
Solution: "Fields of Gold" harmonized
02:13
01:55

An arpeggio is when you play the notes of a chord one-by-one.

Example: "Fields of Gold" with arpeggios
03:07
Exercise: harmonize "Always on My Mind"
01:05
Solution: "Always on My Mind" harmonized
01:31
Example: "Always on My Mind" with arpeggios
01:04
Section 3: Major triads
02:36

2 notes are a semitone apart if there are no other notes between them.

(In North America, semitones are called "half-steps".)

01:05

2 notes are a tone apart is they're 2 semitones apart, in other words if they have exactly one note between them, including white and black notes.

02:36

2 notes are a major 3rd apart if they're 2 tones apart.

Exercise: harmonize "Amazing Grace" using major 3rds
00:52
Solution: "Amazing Grace" harmonised using major 3rds
02:47
11:49
  • C, F, and G are all WWW.
  • A, D, and E are all WBW.
  • Ab, Db, and Eb are all BWB.
  • B (WBB) is the opposite of Bb (BWW).
  • F# is the only major triad that's BBB.
Exercise: harmonize "Kumbaya"
01:46
Solution: "Kumbaya" harmonized
02:45
Exercise: harmonise the verse of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
00:56
Solution: the verse of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" harmonized"
02:15
Section 4: Minor triads
05:04

2 notes are a minor 3rd apart if there are exactly 2 notes between them, including white and black notes.

Example: "Clair de lune"
04:22
09:08
  • Am, Dm, and Em are WWW.
  • Cm, Fm, and Gm are WBW.
  • C#m, F#m, and G#m are BWB.
  • Bm (WWB) is the opposite of Bbm (BBW).
  • Ebm is the only minor triad that's BBB.
Exercise: harmonize "The Tetris theme"
02:10
Solution: "The Tetris theme" harmonized
01:39
01:42

A broken chord is when you split a chord into groups of notes.

Example: "The Tetris theme" with broken chords
01:55
Section 5: Practicing major and minor triads
Exercise: harmonize the chorus of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
01:30
Solution: the chorus of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" harmonized
01:19
Example: "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" with arpeggios
05:12
Exercise: harmonize "Mad World"
00:58
Solution: "Mad World" harmonized
00:34
Example: "Mad World" with broken chords
02:52
Exercise: harmonize "La valse d'Amélie"
00:41
Solution: "La valse d'Amélie" harmonized
00:24
Example: "La valse d'Amélie" with broken chords
00:47
Practice: "La valse d'Amélie" in 6 keys
02:50
Exercise: harmonize "House of the Rising Sun"
00:53
Solution: "House of the Rising Sun" harmonized
01:50
Example: "House of the Rising Sun" with arpeggios
02:37
Exercise: harmonize "Memory"
02:15
Solution: "Memory" harmonized
04:51
04:31

A root-5th-10th chord is a triad with the 3rd moved up an octave (an octave and a 3rd is a 10th).

Example: "Memory" with arpeggios
04:07
Example: analyzing the chords to "Für Elise"
06:25
Section 6: Major triads in inversion
04:23

4ths are inversions of 5ths. That means that if you take a 5th and move the bottom note up an octave you get a 4th. So a 4th is either:

  • 2 white notes with 2 white notes in between, or
  • 2 black notes with 1 black note in between,

apart from F-Bb and F#-B.

09:20

A major triad in 1st inversion is a major triad in root position with the root moved up an octave. So in 1st inversion:

  • C, F, and G are WWW
  • A, D, and E are BWW
  • Ab, Db, and Eb are WBB
  • B (BBW) is the opposite of Bb (WWB)
  • F# is the only one that's BBB
Exercise: harmonize the accompaniment to "All Day and All of the Night"
02:38
Solution: the accompaniment to "All Day and All of the Night" harmonized
04:02
04:20

A major triad in 2nd inversion is a major triad in root position with the 5th moved down an octave. So in 2nd inversion:

  • C, F, and G are WWW
  • A, D, and E are WWB
  • Ab, Db, and Eb are BBW
  • B (WBW) is the opposite of Bb (WBW)
  • F# is the only one that's BBB
Section 7: Mixing major inversions
Example: "Kumbaya" harmonized using inversions
05:48
Exercise: harmonize the riff to "Forget You" using major triads in inversion
01:29
Solution: the riff to "Forget You" harmonized using major triads in inversion
02:09
Exercise: harmonize "Green Onions" using major triads in inversion
02:15
Solution: "Green Onions" harmonized using major triads in inversion
03:23
Section 8: Minor triads in inversion
03:48

A minor triad in 1st inversion is a minor triad in root position with the root moved up an octave. So in 1st inversion:

  • Am, Dm, and Em are WWW
  • Cm, Fm, and Gm are BWW
  • C#m, F#m, and G#m are WBB
  • Bm (WBW) is the opposite of Bbm (BWB)
  • F#m is the only one that's BBB
Example: "Lean On Me"
01:27
03:00

A minor triad in 2nd inversion is a minor triad in root position with the 5th moved down an octave. So in 2nd inversion:

  • Am, Dm, and Em are WWW
  • Cm, Fm, and Gm are WWB
  • C#m, F#m, and G#m are BBW
  • Bm (BWW) is the opposite of Bbm (WBB)
  • Ebm is the only one that's BBB
Exercise: complete the chords to "Creep"
00:46
Solution: the chords to "Creep"
02:13
Example: repeating the chords to "Creep"
02:23
Section 9: Practicing major and minor triads in inversion
Exercise: harmonise the chords to Pachelbel's "Canon"
01:04
Solution: the chords to Pachelbel's "Canon"
01:19
Exercise: harmonize the riff to "Golden Brown"
Preview
01:29
Solution: the riff to "Golden Brown" harmonized
Preview
03:57
06:08
  1. Remove any duplicate notes from the top of the chord
  2. Move all the notes into the same octave
  3. Look at the intervals between adjacent notes: the top of the 4th is the root, or if the chord is made up of 3rds the bottom note is the root
Exercise: analyze the chords to "Comptine d'un autre été, l'après-midi"
01:56
Solution: the chords to "Comptine d'un autre été, l'après-midi" analyzed
02:13
Section 10: I-V-vi-IV
02:55

When using Roman numerals to denote chords you're describing where the chord falls in the scale, so G is chord V in C major because G is the 5th note of the C major scale.

In C major I-V-vi-IV is the chord progression C, G, Am, F.

Here's the original Axis of Awesome video: https://youtu.be/5pidokakU4I

Example: "With or Without You"
01:31
Exercise: harmonize the riff to "Where is the Love?"
01:21
Solution: the riff to "Where is the Love?" harmonized
01:12
Exercise: harmonize the chords to "No One"
00:56
Solution: the chords to "No One" harmonized
01:36
Practice: I-V-vi-IV in C, Eb, F# and A
01:57
07:52

As a general rule, move chords as little as possible and pick inversions whose top notes produce interesting lines, but more than anything do what sounds good.

Section 11: Breaking triads into their component notes
Example: harmonizing "Kumbaya" using single notes
10:31
Exercise: harmonize "Amazing Grace" using single notes
01:20
Solution: "Amazing Grace" harmonised using single notes
04:56
Exercise: harmonize "Hallelujah" using single notes
01:34
Solution: "Hallelujah" harmonised using single notes
08:55

Students Who Viewed This Course Also Viewed

  • Loading
  • Loading
  • Loading

Instructor Biography

Benedict Westenra, Music Coach, Composer & Playwright

I'm a London-based piano coach with over 10 years of teaching experience. Students include signed artists, senior record executives, and other industry professionals.

I'm currently workshopping a musical which I wrote the book, music, and lyrics to, and which I was invited to play to Stephen Sondheim, plus I've also worked as an official arranger for Beyoncé, Michael Bublé, Cher, and others.

Ready to start learning?
Take This Course