How To Play Songs With Chords (Triads) on the Piano

To start your journey from classical to blues and jazz piano you need to understand chords. Chords are the foundation of blues and jazz so you really need to understand them.

Let’s start at the beginning. In the video below you will learn:

  • What is a Basic Triad

  • Chords – Triads – in the C major scale

  • 5 Common Chord Patterns


Major and Minor Triad

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The basic chord is known as the triad which is a set of three notes (or ‘pitches’) stacked vertically in thirds.


Inversions – Major and Minor Inversions with Triads

There are 3 ways to play a triad on the piano - root position, 1st inversion and 2nd inversion, as below.

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Inversions are different ways to play the same chord that give the chord a different sound. I will explain this in more detail in future lessons.

TIP: Take the bottom note (your thumb) and play that note up the octave for each new inversion. You can do this all the way up the piano.

PROGRESSIONS – Common chord progressions (patterns)
and How to play some rock songs on the piano


So why learn about chords?

Well, all songs use chords, unless you are playing free atonal music.

Some songs use one chord, some songs use a couple of chords and other songs use multiple chords with multiple key changes.

I have written down a few common progressions (patterns) below and to start with let’s look at the chords from the C major scale.


Diatonic chords in C (root position)

Below are all the triads in the key of C, numbered 1 - 7.

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5 Common chord progressions (patterns) in rock songs

Below are 5 common chord patterns written in root position for the right hand.

I have picked certain numbers from the 7 triads above in C and shown you 5 common patterns many rock songs use.

All the examples are in 4/4 time. Check them out!

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Cool heh!

Please note that the video contains only four of the examples, the fifth progression
II – IV – VI – V is another variation you can use.


Playing these rock songs with the left hand

Here I’ve picked the two most popular chord progressions with two different ways you can play them. You can vary these as you like with all the progressions.

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So that’s it for this lesson. Can you name any songs the two progressions above remind you of? If so please leave me a comment below. The more songs we know that use these progressions the better we all sound. 😉

The next lesson will show you how to play these songs with more complicated rhythms and I will also show you how to write your own song!

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Thanks and I hope this has helped you out.

Take it easy,

Greg