An Introduction to A Major Chords

Whether you’re looking to play songs by Ed Sheeran or Billy Ray Cyrus, you’re going to need to learn how to play A major chords [1]. Major chords are generally simple, so they’re great for beginners who are looking to learn how to play their favorite songs.

The A major chord specifically is a key part of a lot of classic songs, like “Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones or “Elevation” by U2.

To help you learn what this chord is and how to play it, we’ve put together an easy introduction to A major chords. Read on to learn more.

What Notes Do You Play In A Major Chords?

First, let’s break it down. This chord is three different notes played together. These three notes are the root note, the major third, and the perfect fifth. When you’re playing an A major chord, which three notes are you playing?

The root note, which starts the chord, is A. Our major third is C# and our perfect fifth is E.

However, you can also play inversions of chords to get different sounds. People usually do this with the A major chord because the ‘A’ is a little bit too low when it’s played as the root note.

For the first inversion, you’d move up to the next A on the scale. This changes your order to C#, E, A. C# has become our root note here and we get a higher A.

There’s one more inversion to get an even different sound. We’re playing the same E and A notes as we were in the first inversion, but we’re taking the C# note up an octave higher. E becomes our root note, we’d play A second, and the higher C# last.

Play around with this so that you can hear the difference for yourself. It will help you understand how the different inversions can change the sound of a song.

What Other Chords Are In The Key Of A?

Wait, you might be saying. I’ve already learned to play a few chords in the key of A and this wasn’t one of them. What gives?

It’s possible that you’re getting confused with chords that are in the key of A Major and the actual A Major chord. Chords that are in the key of A Major are of course based on the A Major scale. (In case you forgot, those notes are A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G#.)

Each one of those seven notes can then become a root note for a chord in the key of A. There are three major chords, three minor chords, and one diminished chord. They follow this pattern: Major-Minor-Minor-Major-Major-Minor-Diminished.

Now within this, there are both triad and four-note chords that you can play. The first triad chord in the key of A is the A major chord, which is what we dissected above.

You use Roman numerals to represent each chord. If it’s capitalized, that means it’s a major chord. If not, it’s a minor chord. Here’s how you write out the triad chords, along with the notes in each chord:

I: A major (A – C# – E)

ii: B minor (B – D – F#)

iii: C sharp minor (C# – E – G#)

IV: D major (D – F# – A)

V: E major (E – G# – B)

vi: F sharp minor (F# – A – C#)

vii: G sharp diminished (G# – B – D)

What about A major seventh? What’s that?

A major seventh is a four-note chord like we mentioned above. To play that, you would add one extra note to the three we’ve already learned. A major seventh consists of A-C#-E-G#.

Let’s take a look at the four-note chords in the key of A. Note how similar they are to the three-note chords above.

I: A major seventh (A – C# – E – G#)

ii: B minor seventh (B – D – F# – A)

iii: C# minor seventh (C# – E – G# – B)

IV: D major seventh (D – F# – A – C#)

V: E dominant seventh (E – G# – B – D)

vi: F# minor seventh (F# – A – C# – E)

vii: G# minor seventh flat five (G# – B – D – F#)

Get it now? Let’s go back to the A major chord and take a look at how you actually play it.

Playing A Major Chords On Piano

The fingering for this chord is going to be different depending on which inversion you’re playing. Let’s learn the root position first. You usually don’t start chords this low, but it’s still good to learn the basics.

On your right hand, you’ll put your thumb on A, your middle finger on C#, and your little finger on E. Since this is a chord and not a scale, you’ll play all three notes at once.

For the first inversion, your thumb will go on C#, your index finger will go on E, and your little finger should be on A. Play the note simultaneously again and listen for how much higher this chord sounds.

Finally, for our second inversion, your thumb should be on E, your middle finger on A and then your little finger on C#. When you play this chord, it will be even higher than the second one.

Play each version to understand the difference.

Where Does This Chord Appear?

We know that this chord shows up in a lot of different songs and genres, but when does it sound natural in music? When should you write it? [2]

There are a few different keys when this chord will show up naturally. If you’re playing in any one of them, you can expect the A major chord to appear. A major, of course, is one of them.

You can also expect this chord to show up in D major and E major, as well as F# minor, B minor, and C# minor. (You might want to take a look at that A major scale again to see where these notes are coming from.)

Play On

Now that you have a better understanding of A major chords don’t forget about the B major chords, you can put this knowledge to good use. No matter what song you’re playing, this will probably come in handy!

Once you’ve learned a full song, it’s time to put your talents to good use. Find the best piano for you to show off all your new skills with our review of the best piano brands out there.

Stephanie Su
 

Started learning music when she was four years old, Stephanie is a music teacher and a music therapist who is highly proficient in Piano, Violin, Guitar, and Ukulele. She likes to learn, teach, and share her music playing experiences.

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