Jazz Piano Chords







"Learning and playing jazz piano chords is really quite easy if you understand how chords are built. It also helps to have a proven method of practice. I'll cover both topics in the coming pages."




I'll start with a simple 3-note C major triad and work my way through the natural progression of jazz chords.

It's helpful to know that the 12 major chords are built from their corresponding major scales, and the 12 minor chords are built from their corresponding minor scales.

Many of the commonly used jazz chords are built by adding a note to a major or minor chord, or by making a slight change to a major or minor chord.

Let's start with a major scale. The 8 notes of the C scale are...

C D E F G A B C
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


Major and minor chords consist of the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of their corresponding scales.

Using the C major scale shown above, the 1st note of the scale is a C, the 3rd note of the scale is an E, and the 5th note of the scale is a G.

The C Major Chord is: C - E - G






Generally speaking, you might hear someone say the C chord is made up of the 1, 3 and 5. If it was a C7 chord, then it would be made up of the 1, 3, 5 and 7 -- and so on. More on this later.

Now I could list the eight notes of the Cm scale to build the Cm chord, but there's an easier way. Once you know the 12 major chords, all you have to do is lower the middle note of the chord, or the 3rd, and you've created a minor chord.

Remember what I said earlier... many of the commonly used jazz chords are built by adding a note to a major or minor chord, or by making a slight change to a major or minor chord.

The C Minor Chord is: C - Eb - G

In this case, the slight change was made by lowering of the 3rd of the C major chord, (the E), to make it C minor. (The E becomes an E flat). It really is that easy, and it's exactly the same for the remaining 11 major chords.



Click the link below to watch a short video on converting major chords to minor chords, and to continue learning the natural progression of jazz piano chords.







Jazz Piano Chords Continued...




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