Playing Chords

Purpose: Learn to find the notes of standard chords on the keyboard.

Difficulty: Four levels to choose from: triads, inverted triads, seventh chords, and inverted seventh chords. You don't need to understand note spelling for this exercise, you only need to know which piano keys would be used. For example, if you are asked for a C minor triad and you correctly play C, G, and the black key between D and E, the program will automatically supply Eb instead of D# for that black key. In the practice level you can choose particular chords for practice. Points are not counted in the practice level.

How it works:

You will be asked to play a particular chord on a particular root. In the more advanced levels an inversion will be specified. Using the screen piano, touch the needed piano keys. Notice that in this exercise when you play a note the key stays depressed. The key will lift if you touch it a second time. (This gives you a chance to revise your answer.)

It doesn't matter what octave you play in. Musica is only looking for the right note names in the right order.

If you make a mistake you'll see the correct notes appear on the staff and the correct piano keys will animate to show you the requested chord.

You can use any clef for the displayed music. To choose a new clef just click on the clef tool above the keyboard and touch the one you want.

To enter Practice Mode touch "Practice" at the top of the screen. In Practice mode you'll be able to choose the chords you want to learn. To bring up the practice window again touch "Change practice choices" above the selection boxes. To leave practice mode touch "Exit Practice" at the top of the screen.

About Triads

For help with playing chords you can download our free eBook, Exploring Theory with Practica Musica, from the iBook store. Chords are presented in chapters VII and VIII with the help of multimedia examples.(Additional exercises are available in our desktop music training program Practica Musica®.)

For this exercise you can get away with knowing just these things (we'll assume you've already learned about intervals in the other exercises):

• A triad is identified by its root and its type (major, minor, diminished, augmented). Every triadic chord can be arranged as a stack of thirds - each note as close to the next as is possible, as you see below. When arranged that way the lowest note of the group is the root.
- A major triad is a major third with a minor third above it. The fifth formed by the two thirds is perfect.
- A minor triad is a minor third with a major third above it. The fifth formed by the two thirds is perfect.
- A diminished triad is formed of two minor thirds. That produces a diminished fifth between the outer notes.
- An augmented triad is formed of two major thirds, making an augmented fifth between the outer notes.

These triads share the same root, "C," but each is a different type. A major triad built on C is called a "C major triad."

• An inverted triad is one whose lowest note (bass) is not the root. The notes have just been put in a different order but otherwise are the same.

- A triad whose third is in the bass position is in first inversion. If the fifth is in the bass position the triad is in second inversion.

About Seventh Chords

• Adding a seventh above the root creates a seventh chord.
-The most common seventh chord, generally just called a 7th chord or a "dominant seventh chord," is a major triad combined with a minor seventh. In every major key there is exactly one such chord that can be played using only notes found in the key signature, and it is the one that appears on the dominant (5th note of the scale).

• Other types of seventh chords are built as follows:
- A major seventh combined with a major triad is called a major seventh chord.
-A minor triad with a minor seventh is called the minor seventh chord: .
- A diminished seventh with a diminished triad is called a diminished seventh chord. When built on C notice that the diminished seventh requires a double flat. That doesn't matter to you when playing the chord on the keyboard, but for reading the notation just remember that a double flat lowers a note by two half steps instead of one. But the note name remains the same. If you're curious about why, that is explained in Exploring Theory.
- A minor seventh with a diminished triad is called a half-diminished seventh chord, also known as a "7 flat 5".

• Seventh chords can also be inverted, of course. The inversions are named the same way as with triads, though one more inversion is possible: if you put the 7th itself in the bass that would be a third inversion seventh chord, though we're going to stay with 1st and 2nd inversions for this exercise.

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