Learn Piano Chords – 6 Questions You Should Ask Yourself First – Updated
Hey guys, what’s going on? A lot of music producers wonder if they have to learn piano chords. So is this something you should look into or would learning chords be a waste of time?
I mean, it depends. If you’ve been producing for a while and wanted to speed up your workflow, go for it. Makes sense, right?
If you are a beginner, it’s even easier to learn the basics of playing the piano, because you don’t have a solid workflow just yet.
Learning something new is always good, just don’t make it all about learning, deal?
Alright, let’s jump right in.
Why Do You Need To Learn Piano Chords?
As I said earlier, it’s a really handy thing to know when producing music.
Some producers I know only use their mouse to write notes in the piano roll, which is excellent in the beginning.
Later on, you can even add some variety in velocity, and it will sound very natural.
Most music producers, however, know at least the basics of music theory, piano chords, and progressions.
It will spice up all your melodies, and you will have more flexibility as the time goes on and playing chords on a keyboard will become second nature.
Why Not Just Use The Piano Roll?
A piano roll is usually present in every DAW (digital audio workstation).
First, having every note with perfect velocity and on the grid will sound very robotic. We already have tons of producers who produce everything by the book, without a personal touch.
And I don’t mean you need to try to be edgy and play everything off the grid, but I’ve noticed a lot of trending artists these days spice their beats up with unusual patterns, velocity, etc.
Why Learning Chords As Opposed To Melodies?
Well, if you play the piano daily, you will do great playing both.
However, for most of us, it’s not a job, nor it is something we make money from. Therefore, less time we can practice doing this stuff.
I used to learn and play complex melodies when I bought my first MIDI keyboard.
As the time went by, I’ve started spending less and less time practicing because I had other more important stuff to do.
If you ask me to play anything merely advanced right now, I won’t be able to. I can brush up and do great after some time practicing the melody, but it’s usually not worth the time.
Why Are Chords Better And Easier To Play?
Well, that’s pretty simple. Chords are just three or more notes that you play together at the same time.
Once you learn chords and scales, you are set. They don’t update music theory weekly or monthly, so once you learn how to play them, you are set for years to come!
Simple as riding a bicycle.
If you are a little rusty, you may struggle for a few minutes, but that’s about it. Easily one of the best time investments out there.
Now when we’ve gone over a few basics, let’s get into learning more about chords.
How Do I Spell Chords?
I’ve included this in the article just in case some people are complete beginners. You spell them in the exact way you hear them.
The definition of a chord is three or more notes, so you spell them from the bottom to the top. Let’s look at an example.
C Major, for example, is made of C, E, and G notes played together.
As you start playing chords, you will get the hang of different kinds of chords such as major, minor, etc.
Let’s go over the types of chords.
What Are The Main Types Of Chords?
There are four types of chords. However, I would say most people use the main two (don’t call me out, piano geeks). It’s because minor and major chords and chord progressions are the easiest and fastest to learn.
Note also that all chords start with a root. So again, if it’s C Major chord, it will start with a C, for example.
What Is A Major Chord?
Basically, a major chord is made of a root note, another major note just above the bottom note, and the perfect fifth (5th) above the root note.
C Major: C, E, G
This is simple and straight-forward.
What Is A Minor Chord?
Similar to the major, a minor chord has a root note, another minor note just above it, and a perfect fifth (5th) note above the root note.
C Minor: C, Eb, G
Minor chords are very similar to the major ones, with only one note difference (as you’ve probably noticed already).
What Is An Augmented Chord?
An Augmented chord starts with the root note, followed by a major third (3rd), and a perfect fifth (5th) which is raised by half a step (also called augmented fifth).
C aug: C, E, G#
As I said earlier, it’s not widely used by beginners or people who don’t find the chord to be important enough when making beats because there is so much more stuff involved.
What Is A Diminished Chord?
Diminish chord would, as always, start with a root note, followed by a minor third (3rd), with a perfect fifth (5th) which is lowered by half a step (also called a diminished fifth).
D dim: C, Eb, Gb
It’s similar to an augmented chord and is not being used very often. If you feel like this will spice up the melodies, and you have time to master the last two kinds, go for it.
Once you’ve learned how to play chords, you need to learn chord progressions.
What Are Chord Progressions?
Well, they are just sequences of chords to give a melody some structure.
Instead of coming up with something yourself, I would just go around the internet and google different progressions and listen to the way they sound.
The most common progressions usually start with the first, fourth, or fifth note of the scale.
Let’s take a popular C-F-G progression as an example. C is the first note of the C scale, F is the fourth note, and G is the fifth note.
This is easy and straight-forward, but the even easier way will be googling the mood of the song, and going by the chord progressions you find.
Unless, of course, you have sufficient knowledge about playing the piano or the keyboard. Then you wouldn’t be googling this kind of stuff, would you?
Check out the video below to see how chords are played!
This is at no means a detailed guide, but more of a brief introduction. There is so much more to learn; you can’t even imagine!
However, that’s a good start! Hopefully, you got a little more familiar with piano chords and music theory in general.
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And check the sample lesson down below!