An Introduction to the C Sharp Major Chord
Did you know that for a harp to play in the key of C sharp major, all of the pedals are moved to the bottom position? This makes the harp strings the least resonant they can possibly be as they cannot be made any shorter !
While most songwriters and composers typically choose to write in the enharmonic equivalent of C sharp major, (D flat major), knowing and understanding the basics of C sharp major is still vital to any musician’s education.
Here is a simple breakdown of all the essentials you need to know to master the C sharp major chord, and key.
Basics of the C Sharp Major Chord
Of course, the C sharp major chord is derived from notes within the key of C sharp major. The key contains seven sharps. That is the maximum number of sharps a key signature can possess.
Basically, every note in the key of C sharp major is sharped. Thus, it makes sense that the enharmonic equivalent is D flat major.
Here are the notes of the C sharp major scale:
- C# -Tonic Note
- D# -Major Second Note
- E# -Major Third Note
- F# -Perfect Fourth Note
- G# -Perfect Fifth Note
- A# -Major Sixth Note
- B# -Major Seventh Note
- C# -(one octave about the tonic C#), Perfect Eighth Note
The relative minor key of C sharp major, is A sharp minor, (or the enharmonic equivalent which is B flat minor).
The parallel minor key of C sharp major is, of course, C sharp minor.
C Sharp Major Interval Positions
The C sharp major scale uses the following pattern of whole and half steps between each tone: Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Whole, Half.
For those learning the piano, and even some string instruments, it may be helpful to imagine the physical spacing between these tones. For example, on the piano it would physically look like:
-To count up one whole tone, you move up two keys from the original note. These keys can be either black or white. It does not matter as long as you move two whole keys up.
-To count up one-half tone, you move up one key from the original note. This key can be either the black or white. It does not matter as long as you move one key up.
C Sharp Major Chords
Every chord in the key of C sharp major is derived from one of the notes in the major scale. Simply put, each note is a root note for a chord in the key of C sharp.
You can easily figure out each chord in the C sharp key signature by following the pattern: Major, Minor, Minor, Major, Major, Minor Diminished.
This means the triad chords in C sharp major are:
C# Major, D# Minor, E# Minor, F# Major, G# Major, A# Major, B# Minor Diminished.
C sharp major extended chords would then be: C# Major 7, D# Minor 7, E# Minor 7, F# Major 7, G# 7, A# Minor 7, B# Minor 7th Flat 5.
Below are listed the chords in order of their position in the C sharp scale. The roman numerals indicate that position, with capital letters indicating a major chord, and lower case letters indicating a minor chord.
- I- C Sharp Major and C Sharp Major 7th
- ii- D Sharp Minor and D Sharp Minor 7th
- iii- E Sharp Minor and E Sharp Minor 7th
- IV- F Sharp Major and F Sharp Major 7th
- V- G Sharp Major and G Sharp Dominant 7th
- vi- A Sharp Major and A Sharp Minor 7th
- vii- B Sharp Diminished and B Sharp Minor 7th Flat 5
Notes in C Sharp Major Chords
While the key signature and interval positions of C sharp major could enable you to figure out what notes are in each of the chords listed above, we’re listing them for you for simplicity’s sake.
- C Sharp Major = C#, E#, G#
- D Sharp Minor = D#, F#, A#
- E Sharp Minor = E#, G#, B#
- F Sharp Major = F#, A#, C#
- G Sharp Major = G#, B#, D#
- A Sharp Major = A#, C#, E#
- B Sharp Diminished = B#, D#, F#
Extended four-note chords:
(This is quite simple, you simply add an additional note, one note away from the last, in the C sharp scale).
- C Sharp Major = C#, E#, G#, B#
- D Sharp Minor = D#, F#, A#, C#
- E Sharp Minor = E#, G#, B#, D#
- F Sharp Major = F#, A#, C#, E#
- G Sharp Major = G#, B#, D#, F#
- A Sharp Major = A#, C#, E#, G#
- B Sharp Diminished = B#, D#, F#, A#
When you line these C sharp chords up in this manner, it is interesting to see the mathematical patterns that occur.
The ability to recognize such patterns and rules will help you in the midst of a piece of music if you forget momentarily what notes are flatted or sharped within a key signature.
C Sharp Chord Progressions
For musicians taking on the piano or guitar, here are the most common C sharp chord progressions:
Chord progression 1- C#, F#, G# (or written, I, IV, V)
Chord progression 2- C#, A#m, F#, G# (or written, I, vi, IV, V)
Chord progression 3- D#m7, G#7, C#maj7 (or written, ii, V, I)
Famous Pieces Written in C Sharp Major
As we mentioned, most composers prefer to write their music in the enharmonic equivalent of C sharp major, D flat major. This may be because the D flat major key has fewer accidentals than C sharp major, thus making it slightly easier for musicians to play smoothly.
Regardless, there are still several classical pieces written in the key of C sharp major. They include:
- Prelude and Fugue No. 3, by Johann Sebastian Bach 
- Hungarian Rhapsody No.6, by Franz Liszt
- Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, Op. 17, by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
While many modern pop songs are actually written in the key of D flat major, you can consider some of these as written in C sharp major:
- Haven’t Met You Yet, by Michael Buble
- I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, by U2
- I Just Called to Say I Love You, by Stevie Wonder
Before You Make Music
Having a familiarity with each key signature and it’s corresponding chords and scales, is an excellent way to equip one’s self to perform any piece desired.
After all, there’s a reason every music teacher since the beginning of time has started their students with learning scales. Now that you have the basics for the C sharp major scale, start making music today!