Importance of Primary Chords

by KnowYourPiano

The importance of primary chords, and how knowing just three chords will enable you to play hundreds of songs

When you hear someone, who understands music, talking about chords, most of the time he/she will be boasting about how many chords he/she knows to play.

Theoretically speaking, there can be hundreds, and even thousands of chords that one can play on any music instrument, but very few can actually put them to practical use.

In fact, you need to know much fewer chords to be able to play different songs.

Taking it one step further, just knowing three chords will let you play so many songs. And these three chords are known as the "Primary Chords".

One of the popular chord progressions uses these chords:

I - IV - V

More on Primary Chords

There are 12 keys in music, and in every key, the chords that are built on the on the 1st note of the scale, the 4th note of that scale, and the 5th note of that scale, are known as the primary chords.

These are also denotes as Chord I, Chord IV and chord V

Example of Primary Chord

Which is the simplest scale that every beginner likes to play on?

The C scale of course.

So taking the "C" scale as an example, we will construct the primary chords.

Chord I (built on the first note), also known as the C major chord, will use the following notes - C, E , G

Chord IV (built on the fourth note), also known as the F major chord, will use the following notes - F, A, C

Chord V (built on the fifth note), also known as the G major chord, will use the following notes - G, B, D

Primary Chords, I Chord, IV Chord, V Chord

Do You Need to Learn these in all the Keys?

Coming to the most important question, which you may be having in your mind and of course making you uncomfortable.

Do you need to learn to play these chords across all these keys?

No! Not at all! At least to begin with.

Most songs can easily be played in the C, F, G scale, or the Eb, Bb scale.

So if I were you, I would start learning to play the primary chords in these keys first.

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