If you’re excited to learn how to play the piano, then you’ll eventually need to learn all about the G major piano chord—and there’s no better time than the present. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Understanding G Major Chord Better
Okay, here’s the truth. Before we immediately dive into the specifics of hand and finger placement, and how you actually go about playing G major chord on piano, I think it’s best if we briefly cover a few fundamental things when it comes to chords and the piano.
So what is a chord, exactly? Chords are made up of two or more notes stacked on top of each other in a column. All of the notes in a chord or column should be played at the same time before you move onto another chord or column. These notes create harmony, a kind of series of notes which supports and brings depth to a more memorable series of notes called melody.
As you can see in the image below, each of the three chords consist of three notes layered in a column.
The G Major Scale
If you’re wondering where the G major chord comes from, we’ll need to take a step back and look at the G major scale.
Scales are made up of sequences of tones which are used to build harmonies and melodies. Major and minor scales each have seven notes (and the extra eighth note at the end is a repeat of the first note to complete the octave).
The G major scale begins and ends on the note G. It had one sharp—F-sharp—which is noted with the symbol # on the F lines. This is the key signature and is there to let you know that you need to go up a half step and play the black (accidental) F# key instead of the white (natural) F key.
The notes as written on the staff match how you play the notes on the keyboard. As you go up the scale, the notes get higher, and as you go down the scale, the notes get lower.
You can see this movement, for example, in the treble and bass clefs below:
You can experiment with the scale and actually listen to it using this interactive model.
Major chords derive from the first, third, and fifth notes of their major scale. Since they are made up of three notes, they are a part of the chord family called triads. They are always named by their root note, or the first note in the chord. So, in the G major scale, the first, third, and fifth notes are G, B, and D, so the chord is GBD, and its name is G major. It usually appears with the Roman numeral notation I or Ia.
Another key, E minor, shares the key signature with a sharp on the F note. This is because G major and E minor are relative keys, meaning that they share the same notes but begin at different places within the sequence of notes. They can be difficult to tell apart, but you can check out this article to learn how to distinguish them by ear and in written music.
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How to Play the G Major Chord
Locating the Chord on the Piano
Now that you’ve seen the G major chord as it’s written on the staff, let’s check out how the same notes appear on the piano keyboard in the image below:
To locate a G key, look for the three black (accidental) keys. Find the first two and move down to the white (natural) key right between them. That key is the G key.
To locate a B key, go back to the three black (accidental) keys. Find the last key and move down to the white (natural) key to its right. That key is the B key.
To locate a D key, look for the two black (accidental) keys. Move down to the white (natural) key right between them. That key is the D key.
All of the keys in the G major scale are white (natural) keys.
Playing the Chord and Fingerings
Before we play the G major chord, let’s pause and discuss fingerings.
You might be wondering about the best way to practice chords and scales. If you’re looking for a way to improve your hand technique, build muscle memory, and play more smoothly, then you need to pay attention to your fingerings.
The term “fingering” is used to talk about the specific fingers that professional pianists recommend that you use when you’re playing different scales and chords. Fingerings are represented by numbers which are written above and below music notes. For both your right hand and your left hand, your thumbs are 1 and your pinkies are 5. While these numbers are common in beginner’s music, you’ll see these numbers less the more you learn, because it’s assumed that you’ll have them memorized.
When I was a beginner pianist, I regretfully did not memorize the standard fingerings. I played what felt “natural” to me, but found that I messed up frequently, especially as I became faster at playing. Over the course of a couple of months, I was able to break the bad habits I had created, relearn my hand technique, and stop tripping over my own fingers.
It’s sometimes said that wise people learn from the mistakes of others. Learn from mine and start out with the correct fingerings! As you practice, you’ll become more comfortable when playing them, and you’ll be able to transfer your refined technique to any musical arrangement.
When you’re playing the G major chord in its root position, these are the fingerings you should use:
When you’re ready, feel free to place your hands on the keyboard. Make sure that your fingers are on the correct fingerings, that your thumbs, middle fingers, and pinkies are lined up well. Then go ahead and press down on all of the keys at the same time!
Congratulations! You’ve just played the G major chord!
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G Major Chord Inversions
Hopefully you can recognize and play the root position—GBD. However, if you’re thinking of spicing things up a little, you can also try out the inversions of the G major chord.
Major triads come with common variations called inversions, for the reason that the order of the notes is rearranged or inverted.
1st Inversion (G/B)
When you make the first inversion, move the G, the bottom note of the root position, to create the chord BDG.
Also take note that when you move from the root position to the first inversion, the fingering changes in the right hand.
When the chord is in the first inversion, it’s also called the G/B chord. This is because the third note of the G major scale, the B, is the lowest note in the chord. The first inversion often appears with the Roman numeral notation I6 or Ib.
2nd Inversion (G/D)
When you make the second inversion, move the G and the B, the bottom two notes of the root position, to create the chord DGB.
Also take note that when you move from the root position to the second inversion, the fingering changes in the left hand.
When the chord is in the second inversion, it’s also called the G/D chord. This is because the fifth note of the G major scale, the D, is the lowest note in the chord. The second inversion often appears with the Roman numeral notation I64or Ic.
Tip: If you’re looking for an easy way to remember how to make inversions, then look no further! Think of the number of notes you need to invert. If it’s one note you’re moving to the top, it’s the first inversion. If it’s two notes you’re moving, it’s the second inversion.
These chords aren’t “other” G major chords (because the G major chord is a specific chord with two inversions), but they start on other notes of the G major scale.
How Hard is it to Learn G Major Piano Chord?
If you’ve never played the piano before and you’re just starting out, you may be wondering how difficult it is to learn each of the chords and scales.
Luckily, the G major piano chord is one of the easiest chords to learn for all ages. The G major scale only contains a single sharp, F#. And you don’t even need to worry about it when playing the chord since it only includes all white (natural) keys.
If ranked on a scale where 1 is easiest and 10 is most difficult, the G major chord would fall at a 2.
I know that the appearance of the G major piano chord may seem daunting from a learning perspective, especially if you’re a beginner. But think about it—you’ve made it this far and haven’t quit. That counts for something!
I think it’s also worth nothing that this particular key has a huge reputation for being fun, magical, and magnificent. Songs in this key are meant to evoke emotions of peace, gratitude, and passion. And to be honest, some of the best piano songs are written in the key of G major—like Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl.”
Now let’s recap what we’ve learned a little bit here today. The first, third, and fifth notes of the G major scale make up the G major chord—GBD. The note G is the root of the scale and is from where the chord gets its name. It also has two inversions. The first is BDG and is formed by moving the G to the top of the chord. The second is DGB and is formed by moving both the G and the B to the top of the chord. Before playing the chord in its root position or in its inversions, double check to make sure you have the right fingerings!
And always remember to keep practicing! You’ll soon be able to serenade all of those brown eyed girls, boys, and others who appreciate a good song when they hear it! And what better time to start than now?
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