Piano Chords
4.7 (78 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.
1,306 students enrolled
Wishlisted Wishlist

Please confirm that you want to add Piano Chords to your Wishlist.

Add to Wishlist

Piano Chords

Learn to read chord symbols in a visual and intuitive way using real music
Bestselling
4.7 (78 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.
1,306 students enrolled
Created by Benedict Westenra
Last updated 5/2017
English
Current price: $30 Original price: $40 Discount: 25% off
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
Includes:
  • 6 hours on-demand video
  • 2 Articles
  • 4 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • 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
View Curriculum
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
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

Who 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
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 123 Lectures Collapse All 123 Lectures 06:06:02
+
Introduction
3 Lectures 04:11

Bonus, 13/01/16: all the scores in 4 PDF's
00:31

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

Preview 00:58
+
Root-5th-root chords
15 Lectures 35:55

An intervals is the distance between 2 notes.

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

Preview 01:32

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.

Preview 06:35




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

Root-5th-root chords
04:08

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

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

What is an arpeggio?
01:55

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
+
Major triads
10 Lectures 29:27

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

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

Semitones
02:36

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.

Tones
01:05

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

Major 3rds
02:36

Exercise: harmonize "Amazing Grace" using major 3rds
00:52

Solution: "Amazing Grace" harmonised using major 3rds
02:47

  • 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.
Major triads
11:49

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
+
Minor triads
7 Lectures 26:00

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

Minor 3rds
05:04

Example: "Clair de lune"
04:22

  • 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.
Minor triads
09:08

Exercise: harmonize "The Tetris theme"
02:10

Solution: "The Tetris theme" harmonized
01:39

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

What is a broken chord?
01:42

Example: "The Tetris theme" with broken chords
01:55
+
Practicing major and minor triads
18 Lectures 44:36
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

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

Root-5th-10th chords
04:31

Example: "Memory" with arpeggios
04:07

Example: analyzing the chords to "Für Elise"
06:25
+
Major triads in inversion
5 Lectures 24:43

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.

4ths
04:23

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
Major triads in 1st inversion
09:20

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

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
Major triads in 2nd inversion
04:20
+
Mixing major inversions
5 Lectures 15:04
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
+
Minor triads in inversion
6 Lectures 13:37

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
Minor triads in 1st inversion
03:48

Example: "Lean On Me"
01:27

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
Minor triads in 2nd inversion
03:00

Exercise: complete the chords to "Creep"
00:46

Solution: the chords to "Creep"
02:13

Example: repeating the chords to "Creep"
02:23
+
Practicing major and minor triads in inversion
7 Lectures 18:06
Exercise: harmonise the chords to Pachelbel's "Canon"
01:04

Solution: the chords to Pachelbel's "Canon"
01:19



  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
Recognising triads in inversion
06:08

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
+
I-V-vi-IV
8 Lectures 19:20

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

I-V-vi-IV
02:55

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

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.

Choosing inversions
07:52
7 More Sections
About the Instructor
Benedict Westenra
4.8 Average rating
567 Reviews
4,678 Students
3 Courses
"The best piano teacher in London", 100+ 5* reviews

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.