Trick To Figure Out Major and Minor Chords Easily on Piano


Dear all fans of JP Soundworks, have you ever get some difficulty to figure out some chords like F#m, Bb, G#, C#m or some other chords on your piano? If you have ever experience that case, this study about trick to figure out our major and minor chords easily on piano is what you need. We hope this study can be useful for beginner composers like us. Let’s begin this study.

First, before we talk about chords, we should figure out the piano has white and black keys. These represent the notes in any musical scale (12 consecutive “semi-tones”). The white keys are natural notes (i.e. non sharps or flats). The black keys are the sharps and flats. In music notation, the sharp notes are designated by a #, whereas the flat notes are designated by a b. Let’s see those keys, each keys has step distance each other. The distance between C to C# is 1/2 (half), while C to D is 1 (that represents 1/2+1/2 or half plus half). However there are some white keys that only have half step distance, they are E to F and B to C. So you can see the map of step distance between white keys as shown in Figure 1.

piano distance

Figure 1. Step distance between white keys on a piano

Second, we should know what is a basic major and minor chord. A basic major chord is formed from what is called a triad. A triad is the first, third, and fifth notes in a scale (eg. the C chord = C, E, G). Therefore, if you know the scale, you can easily learn a new chord from playing those three notes of the chord. Minor chords are played in a similar manner.

Trick To Figure Out Basic Major Chords

Well, here’s the trick. If you want to figure out the major chords, you should count the step distance from the root key. Suppose we want the root key C, so we count 2 (two) and then 1 1/2 (one and a half) from the root key. The formula will be like this:

Root 21 1/2

This way can figure out the companion of the key C in the basic major chord. If we count 2 from C, we will found E, and from E we count one and a half, we will find G. So, the basic major chord of C is C-E-G as shown in Figure 2.

piano major

Figure 2. Figure out basic Major chord for C

So, if you want to figure out the basic Major chords of G#. Put the Root on G#, count 2 step distance and you will find C. After that count 1 1/2 step distance from C and you will found D#. so the basic major chord of G# is, G# – C – D#. You can do this for any other major chords.

Trick To Figure Out Basic Minor Chords

For basic minor chords’ trick, you can do almost similar things with the basic major chords. The difference is you should count 1 1/2 first, and then 2 from the root key.  So the formula will be going like this:

Root – 1 1/2 – 2

So, if you want to figure out the Cm. Simply count 1 1/2 step distance from C key, as the root, you will find D#, and then count 2 step distance from D#, and you will find G. That’s it. The basic minor chord of C or Cm is C – D# – G. See the Figure 3.

piano minor

Figure 3. Figure out basic Minor chord for C (or Cm)


So, it will not difficult to figure out the basic minor chord of F#, or F#m, isn’t it? Yes, you’re right, that’s F# – A – C#. If you can figure it out as fast as us, you’ve got the point of this study.

We hope you will find this study helpful for you. You can also access some of our studies about kinds of musics in games or about loopable game musics. See you next time in another study.

Some references of this study is taken from an article of Garrick Saito in Quora.

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