This blog post takes the chords in Heart and Soul and shows how they can help you learn about the most-used chords in all styles of music: the Primary Chords.
This is part V (five) of the Heart and Soul series. Before you try this at home, make sure you’ve covered this step:
How to play Heart and Soul’s bass and chords
If you can check YES, now it’s time to focus on how Heart and Soul can teach you the primary chords!
Most western music is built with chords. Simply put, chords are three stacked tones that sound good together. In their most basic form, chords look like this:
On the piano:
In written music:
When you play ‘in a key,’ some chords are used more than others. The three that are used the most are called the primary chords.
This video teaches the primary chords through Heart and Soul with a tutorial:
How to name chords built on scale notes
In any key, a chord can be built on each and every note. Here is the C scale, made of the notes of the key of C.
You can build a chord on each note, or scale degree.
The chord built on the first note is called ‘chord one’ (identified with a Roman numeral I). This continues up the scale, with each chord taking its name and number from the scale degree on which it is built.
Action: Play the chords up the C scale, saying the chord names aloud.
You can do this in any key. Here are chords built on the notes of the D scale. Notice that the chord tones are taken directly from the key signature itself. D major has two sharps (F-sharp and C-sharp), so each chord that has Fs and/or Cs will automatically make those keys sharp (black keys).
Action: Choose a scale you know and try to play the chords up the scale. Remember the sharps or flats!
Click to Print a FREE sheet!
For a sheet that supports this tutorial and blog post, go to my Printables page and print one for FREE! It has an interesting challenge not mentioned in this post!
The chords in Heart and Soul
Here are the chords written in Roman numerals:
Chord one, chord six*, chord four and chord five. *Chord vi (six) is a minor chord, so the Roman numeral is in the lower case. This isn’t one of the primary chords.
Here are the chords in notated music:
Action: Play the bass and chords of Heart and Soul, saying the chord names aloud.
Heart and Soul can teach:
- the sounds of the primary chords
- where to play them on the piano
- how the primary chords can work together to make a strong chord progression
Cool things about the primary chords in major keys:
- In any major key, the three primary chords are the only major chords in that key. Major chords have a bright, happy sound.
- The primary chords are always chords I, IV and V, no matter what key you are in.
- Chord I is the main chord in any key. It is called the tonic chord. Most pieces end on chord I because it gives a feeling of completion and returning ‘home.’
- Chord V is a fifth above the key note. It is called the dominant. It is important for leading to chord I. You will hear the progression V – I a lot. If you like comics with heroes vs. villains, you can think of the V chord as the challenger or ‘dominator’ (get it? dominant –dominator). It’s the chord that keeps music interesting and adventurous.
- Chord IV is technically the subdominant, a fifth below the key note, though most people think of it as four notes above. It’s a useful go-between chord for linking other chords and can set up chord V or I. For the progression IV – I think “Amen.”
This blog post is part of a series. Not only will you learn the various parts of Heart and Soul, but you’ll learn how to teach them to a family member. Then, play the duet together or with the ‘Play-along’ videos included in the series.
Ready for the next step?
There’s more to Heart and Soul than meets the eye! This gem of a piece can teach the primary chords, how to transpose, relative minors and even how to improvise and compose! Start this amazing musical journey by clicking the link below and then follow the tutorials!
Are you a piano teacher? To unlock this amazing nine-part Heart and Soul series, start here: Piano play-along duets for families at home: Heart and Soul [Teacher intro]
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Video of the Week
Boogie Woogie Man (Level 3 ending) from the print and eBook Rock That Train, Elementary to Late Elementary. Can be taught by note and rote with a black and white key pattern. It is built on the blues, which uses the I, IV and V harmonies! Check it out in my shop, here!