Uncle Bob's Guitar Lessons
Lesson 3 - Elementary Chords And Theory
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For all intents and purposes, a "chord" is nothing more than playing more than one note at a time. The basic building-block chord is a "triad", or three notes. In any scale, the 1st-3rd-5th notes of the scale make a major triad. Looking at the C Major scale on a piano, this would be C-E-G, as shown below...
It would be great if you could just pick up your fingers and move one key to the right on the piano and have another major chord, but unfortunately it doesn't work that way. (No, that would be way too easy.)
Here's why that doesn't work - the distance from C to C# is on half-step, and another from C# to D, etc. So there are 4 half-steps between C and E, then 3 half-steps between E and G. But if we pick up our fingers and move to the 2nd-4th-6th notes of the scale, we get 3 half-steps between D and F, then 4 half-steps between F and A. This makes the 2nd triad in the C Major scale a D Minor, shown below...
If you continue moving your fingers up the piano, stick to the white keys, and skip a white key between each finger in your triad, you get the following chords:
After this, the pattern repeats it self starting on the C Major chord in the next octave.