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Learn Piano Chord Progressions

Piano chord progressions refer to the advancement from one chord to another to form a harmony. In simple terms, piano chord progressions mean playing one chord such as a major chord and then playing another one after it (e.g. a minor chord). It is simply playing the chords to make a melody or something that sounds right for the key signature and the style of music.

One must remember the major scales and the scale tone chords in order to understand how to play a piano chord progression. A progression means you have to “combine” the chords in the harmonic framework so as to form a tune. When “combining” the scales and the chords to form a progression, one must first remember the rules for the scale tone chords which are as follows:

  1. The 1st, 4th and 5th notes are always MAJOR chords.
  2. The 2nd, 3rd and 6th notes are always MINOR chords.
  3. The 7th note is always a DIMINISHED chord.

In short, the scale tone chords in a given “key” will follow this combination:

Major - minor - minor - Major - Major - minor - diminished
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th

Thus, the scale tone chords in the key of C will be like this:

C Major — D minor — E minor — F Major — G Major — A minor — B diminished

Now, let’s go to the different examples of piano chord progressions. The kinds of chord progressions really depend on the player himself. But all of these progressions have some basis on the fundamental types of piano chord progressions, the most popular of which is the three-note “I-IV-V chord progression”, which is often used in rock and roll music.

The “I-IV-V chord progression” is really simple and can be used in all 12 scales of the piano. As it name dictates, this progression makes use of the 1st note (I), the 4th note (IV) and the 5th note (V) of the scale. Thus, “I-IV-V chord progression” for F Major is “F Major – A#/Bb Major – C Major”. As you noticed, the chords of the “F Major progression” are similar to the triad of the F Major. The difference is that F Major follows a 1-3-5 interval while F Major chord progression follows a 1-4-5 interval thus, from “F-A-C” in F Major, it becomes “Fmaj-A#maj-Cmaj” (F-A#-C major chords) in the chord progression. As stated above, the 1st, 4th and 5th notes are ALWAYS major chords.

Try and practice the other scales (from C Major to B Major) using the “I-IV-V chord progression”. Using your left hand, you can play these progressions while your right hand focused on playing the major chords. Once you feel used to it, you can progress to the other chord progressions with three to seven notes.

There are other types of progressions like the “II-IV-I”, “III-VI-II-V-I” and other related chord progressions. But all of them follow the rules of the scale tone chords mentioned above. Practice is needed in order to familiarize oneself with these chords. The best way to learn is to not hurry playing. Take one step at a time and familiarize yourself with the chords. Have fun while playing with the different chord progressions!

If you want to learn more about chord progressions for piano, Read our Rocket Piano Review

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