Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Formation of chords on keyboard - Part I

Simple way to construct and remember chords

Chord formation : Let us not bother too much about why and how chords were designed and formed in the very first place. That needs lot of learning, patience and time. I suppose the friends, whom I am addressing to, have neither the time nor the patience to go through the detailed theory and the conventional way of learning.
This holds good for people who want to play for fun & enjoyment. However it is always beneficial to learn in detail if one has to master it as a professional.

A chord is a group of 3 or more notes (keys) that are played at the same time. Three note chords are generally referred to as triads. There are four types of triads( 3 note chords):

Major Chords
Minor Chords
Diminished Chords
Augmented Chords

We have 12 notes (keys) and hence 12 chords of each type. i.e. there are mainly 48 traids (3 note chords).

Major chords:
Let us use a simple formula to find the 3 notes to form the Major chords (traids). Suppose you want C Major chord then C is the root note. To find the 2nd note, count the 4th key from C i.e E ( C# > D > D# > E) 
Similarly find the 3rd note by counting the 3rd key from E  i.e. G 
(F > F# > G).

Hence the C Major chord is   C  E  G 

Now go ahead and build your own major chords. Spend some time and do it yourself. Please believe me, this way you will remember the chords better and will thank me in future.

Inversion of chords:
The 3 notes can be played in two different sequences apart from the main sequence of notes. These are called inversions.
C E G can be held down (played) in 2 other sequences called inversions as E G C and 
G C E . As C is the root key of C Major chord it can be played in root position, in top position and middle position.

The fingering for traids will be 5 3 1 (left hand) and 1 3 5 (right hand). Count 1 for thumb to 5 for pinky.
                                                    1st inversion    2nd inversion
                               C  E  G         E  G  C           G  C  E
Left hand                  5  3   1        5   3   1          5  2    1
Right hand                1  3    5       1   2   5          1   3   5

Minor chords:
F is the root note for F minor scale (Fm), To find 2nd note, count 3rd

key  from F i.e. G# (F#, G, G#) and find the 3rd note by counting 4th

key from G# i.e. C (A, A#, B, C) 

Yes the F minor chord is  F G# C
                                                            1st inversion    2nd inversion
                                    F  G#  C           G#  C  F            C F G#
Left hand                      5   3     1
Right hand                    1   3     5

Diminished & Augmented Chords:
Basically all chords are derived from the Major chords. Yes formula can be applied to these chords also. However I suggest that you touch upon these chords only after perfecting the Major chords. These chords will come naturally to you after associating them with Major chords.
What is perfection?
Perfection is the ability to do things sub consciously. This is the level at which you are not required to think while doing that task. In this context, I had read a beautiful example and I am using it here.
Think about cycling. While learning we are required to fully concentrate on balancing and try to keep the handle straight. Once you have learnt, then you are no longer required to even think of balancing. It is taken over by your sub conscious mind and you start riding as per your minds command. Now your conscious mind is free to concentrate on other things like talking, looking around at beautiful girls (just kidding) etc. while riding. This is perfection.

Please go ahead and achieve that perfection in playing Major chords. As soon as you think about a chord, instantly you should know the notes and the fingers should automatically reach on to those notes.
Diminished and augmented chords will be taken up in my next posting.

Happy playing.