Learning Piano Chords

Learn everything you need to know about piano chords, music theory, and the piano in general

Piano Chord Progressions

Piano Chord progressions are great to know for so many reasons. Understanding them can help you understand music much better and be able to memorize music more easily. You will shortly see that many popular songs are built from very basic chord progressions on the piano, so if you can understand the chords well, you can start to play the songs on your own intuitively. You will also develop the ability to improvise once you know certain progressions very well. Understand chord progressions can only help you and it is well worth the time invested to learn at least the basics of chord progression theory.

The most basic and commonly used chord progression in piano music is the I-IV-V-I progression. To construct this, let’s use C Major as an example. The “I” means the C Major chord, also know as C,E,G. The “IV” means the F Major chord, meaning F,A,C. The “V” means the G Major chord, or simply G,E,B. With the V chord, you can also make it a V7 chord to add richness to the sound. To do that, you can add an F, which is a minor seventh to the chord. When playing this chord progression on the piano, you don’t necessarily have to follow this exact order to make it sound right. You can go from I to IV, then back to I, then to V, then back to I again. It really doesn’t matter. Play around with these chords and you will get a sense for how it sounds. You can also try to construct a melody out of them and improvise a little bit. An illustration of the chord progression is shown below.

I IV V I Piano Chord Progression 300x229 Piano Chord Progressions

Another chord progression that is really a small variation of the one described above is the I-ii-V-I progression. The “ii” just means that the second chord is the second step along the scale but in a minor key. If we are using C Major as an example, “ii” would simply be a D Minor chord. The steps along this chord progression would therefore be C Major chord, D Minor chord, G Major chord, C Major chord. Like above, the V chord can be played as a V7 to enhance the sound and make the chord sound more full. Try to play around with this chord progression on the piano and see if you can’t improvise a little tune. You can also look up this chord progression on Google and see the different songs and pieces that are built on this progression. An illustration of this chord progression is shown below.

ii V I Piano Chord Progression 300x157 Piano Chord Progressions

Another chord progression is the I-vi-ii-V-I progression. The “ii” and “vi” are minor chords, while the other chords are major chords. If we continue using C Major as an example, the chord progression would be C Major, A Minor, D Minor, G Major, C Major. Several popular songs are built on this progression. Take a look at it and try to play it on the piano. These chord progressions should sound pretty familiar and they should make intuitive sense once you hear them. No illustration is shown below because you probably have a good sense at this point what it looks like.

More Advanced Chord Progressions

Learning more advanced piano chord progressions is probably outside the scope of this website and definitely at least this article. You can choose to get a private teacher who can teach you a plethora of advanced chord progression concepts. You can also look into a couple of self-study materials.

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