1 2 3 4 Piano Chords

5 min read Jun 17, 2024
1 2 3 4 Piano Chords

Mastering the Basics: Understanding 1 2 3 4 Piano Chords

Learning piano chords is a crucial step in becoming a proficient musician. Among the most fundamental chords are the 1 2 3 4 chords, also known as I IV V and vi chords. These four chords form the foundation for countless songs across various genres.

What are 1 2 3 4 Chords?

1 2 3 4 chords are derived from the major scale. Each number represents a degree of the scale:

  • 1 (I) represents the root of the scale (C in a C major scale).
  • 2 (ii) represents the second degree of the scale (D in a C major scale).
  • 3 (iii) represents the third degree of the scale (E in a C major scale).
  • 4 (IV) represents the fourth degree of the scale (F in a C major scale).

These degrees are used to build chords. A major chord is formed using the root, major third, and perfect fifth of a scale.

Understanding the Chords

I Chord (Major Chord): This is the most stable and common chord in a key. It is the foundation for the key and often used as the tonic chord.

IV Chord (Major Chord): The IV chord adds a harmonic color to the I chord and creates a sense of movement. It's often referred to as the subdominant chord.

V Chord (Major Chord): The V chord is a dominant chord that creates tension and expectation. It often leads back to the I chord, creating a resolution.

vi Chord (Minor Chord): The vi chord is a minor chord that adds a touch of sadness or melancholy to the progression. It's also referred to as the relative minor of the I chord.

Playing 1 2 3 4 Chords on Piano

C Major (I Chord): C, E, G F Major (IV Chord): F, A, C G Major (V Chord): G, B, D Am (vi Chord): A, C, E

You can play these chords in root position (bass note is the root), first inversion (bass note is the third), or second inversion (bass note is the fifth).

Examples of Songs Using 1 2 3 4 Chords

The 1 2 3 4 chord progression is used in countless popular songs. Here are a few examples:

  • "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals
  • "Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan
  • "Imagine" by John Lennon
  • "Let It Be" by The Beatles


Learning the 1 2 3 4 chords is an essential stepping stone for any aspiring pianist. They are versatile and can be used in a wide variety of musical styles. By understanding their function and application, you'll be able to unlock a world of musical possibilities.

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