Week 1 – A Beginner’s Lesson On Major Chords

Major chords have a common place in gospel music and that’s why every gospel musician must learn them.

If you’re a beginner or you just got past the babyhood stage of piano learning, then this lesson is for you because we’ll be focusing on major chords from the beginner’s standpoint.

So, get ready to explore the world of major chords: from the definition of major chords to any other useful information that will be helpful.

“What Is A Major Chord?”

Major chords are not hard to come across. Almost everyone reading this blog has heard a major chord before because a lot of the songs we sing in church (from praise songs, to worship songs, to shouts, etc.) start and end on a major chord.

One of the most popular major chords in the world is the C major chord:

Others include (but is not limited to) any of the following:

The F major chord:

The A major chord:

The Db major chord:

“So, Let’s Define A Major Chord…”

The major chord is basically a chord that is formed by the relationship between the first, third, and fifth tones of the major scale of the key you’re in.

So, if we’re in the key of C major:

…the major chord is a product of the relationship between the first, third, and fifth tones of the C major scale which are C (the first tone):

…E (the third tone):

…and G (the fifth tone):

Attention: The major chord is the chord of the first tone of the scale in the major key (aka “the 1-chord or chord 1”) and its major quality is derived from the major key.

Submission: There are so many theoretical reasons that bother on the explanation of where the major quality of the major chord is derived from. Although dwelling on them isn’t a bad idea, but that will take us into several other topics that we’ll cover in subsequent lessons.

A Short Note On The Components Of The Major Chord

The major chord has three components: its first tone (aka – “the root”), third tone, and fifth tone. These components are known as chord tones.

These chord tones are important to the chord and the characteristics of the major chord is determined by them.

Attention: The breakdown below is for anyone who is interested in getting some theoretical insights on chord tones. If you’re not interested, kindly skip to the next segment.

“So, Here’s A Breakdown Of The Chord Tones Of The Major Chord…”

The Root. This is the component that determines the letter name of the major chord.

The Third. The distance between the root and the third tone determines the quality of a chord. In the case of the major chord, the distance between the root and third tone is a major third interval and that’s why the quality of the major chord is “major”.

The Fifth. The distance between the root and the fifth tone of the major chord is a perfect fifth interval which is the interval that gives the major chord a sense of stability and repose.

Altogether, here’s what each chord tone contributes to the major chord:

Identity – The letter name of the major chord is derived from its root.

Quality – The “major quality” of the major chord is derived from the distance between the root and third tone.

Stability – The “feeling of repose” associated the major chord is derived from the distance between its root and fifth.

Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The “Official Guide To Piano Playing.”

Formation Of The Major Chord

Although there are so many ways to form the major chord, the easiest approach is the use of the major scale. Using any of the major scales below, the major chord can be formed:

C major scale:

Db major scale:

D major scale:

Eb major scale:

E major scale:

F major scale:

Gb major scale:

G major scale:

Ab major scale:

A major scale:

Bb major scale:

B major scale:

Let’s go ahead and form a few chords before we end today’s lesson.

Example #1 – Formation Of The E Major Chord

The E major chord can be formed using the E major scale:

Once you have the E major scale handy, you pick out the components of the major chord (which are the root, third, and fifth tone):

Root (E in this case):

Third (G# in this case):

Fifth (B in this case):

Altogether, the root, third, and fifth tone of the E major scale when played together produces the E major chord:

Example #2 – Formation Of The Bb Major Chord

The Bb major chord can be formed using the Bb major scale:

Picking out the components of the major chord (which are the root, third, and fifth tone) from the Bb major scale produces the Bb major chord.

So, here are the components:

Root (Bb in this case):

Third (D in this case):

Fifth (F in this case)

:

Altogether, the root, third, and fifth tone of the Bb major scale when played together produces the Bb major chord:

Example #3 – Formation Of The G Major Chord

The G major chord can be formed using the G major scale:

If you’re familiar with the E major scale, you can pick out the components of the major chord (which are the root, third, and fifth tone):

Root (G in this case):

Third (B in this case):

Fifth (D in this case):

Altogether, the root, third, and fifth tone of the G major scale when played together produces the G major chord:

“For Your Reference, Here Are All The Major Chords On The Keyboard…”

C major chord:

Db major chord:

D major chord:

Eb major chord:

E major chord:

F major chord:

Gb major chord:

G major chord:

Ab major chord:

A major chord:

Bb major chord:

B major chord:

Final Words

I’m doubly sure you learned a couple of things from this lesson and I’m highly privileged to share some of these insights with you.

We’re just getting started and bigger things are yet to come. If you’re yet to join the Gospel Music Training Center, follow this link now to sign up and don’t forget to tell your friends and folks.

On behalf of our founder, Jermaine Griggs; and lead instructor, Jonathan Powell; I want to thank you for reading up to this point.

Keep up the good work!

The following two tabs change content below.

Chuku Onyemachi

Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. I started teaching musicians in my neighbourhood in April 2005. Today, I'm humbled to work as a music consultant with HearandPlay Music Group for musicians in Africa and beyond.

Leave a Comment: