How many chords are there, anyway?

Since chords (the main component of harmony) are one of the three most vital elements in music (the others being melody and rhythm), it would be helpful to know how many chords there are. And it doesn’t matter if you play piano, guitar, or some other instrument, chords are chords.

It is certainly not necessary to learn all the chords in the whole world, but it is necessary to learn some of them, at least enough to allow you to harmonize the songs you would like to play.

But in the meantime, there are 3 chords, only 3, that you definitely have to know. If you don’t know these three, there’s hardly a song in the whole world that you can play. But by knowing just 3 chords, you can play hundreds if not thousands of songs! And those chords are simply the primary chords at any given key:

·The I chord (the chord built on the 1st degree of the scale)

·The IV chord (the chord built on the 4th degree of the scale)

·The V chord (the chord built on the 5th degree of the scale)

For example, if you were playing in the key of C, the I chord would be C (c, e, g), the IV chord would be F (f, a, c), and the V chord would be G (g, b, d) .

But as you probably know, there are thousands of other chords, so it would be helpful to at least know of their existence and maybe one day learn them.

So here it goes:

Since there are 12 main pitches that can be played on (not counting enharmonic pitches, pitches that sound the same but are spelled differently), there are:

*12 major triads (a triad is a 3-note chord)

*12 minor triads

*12 diminished triads

*12 augmented triads

*12 diminished seventh chords (4 note chords)

*12 major sixth chords

*12 minor sixth chords

*12 dominant seventh chords

*12 major seventh chords

*12 minor seventh chords

*12 semi-diminished chords

*12 ninth chords

*12 flatted ninth chords

*12 major 9th/7th chords

*12 minor 9th/7th chords

*12 chords 11

*12 chords of 13

*12 suspensions

*12 flat fifth chords

*12 flat chords of major 5th and 7th

If those chords aren’t enough for you, remember that every chord can be reversed, backwards. So multiply all triad chords by 3, and all 4 note chords by 4, and all 5 note chords by 5…

Then there are:

polychords – chords that combine two or more chords, and

voicings: the way chords are placed on the piano keyboard

And that’s only in one octave. A standard piano has 7 octaves, so multiply all of that by 7 and you’ll get the answer for how many chords there really are:

More than you can count.

But again, you don’t need to know them all. Just master enough that she can play the songs she wants to play, then gradually over time learn more and more chords. Your musical world will continue to grow and maturity as a musician will be evident to others.

Imagine being able to sit down at a piano and just PLAY – Ballads, Pop, Blues, Jazz, Ragtime, even amazing Classical pieces? Now you can… and you can do it in months not years without wasting money, time and effort on traditional Piano Lessons.

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