Simplified chords

Basic chords are composed of three notes. E.g. the Am (A minor) chord consists of the A, C and E key. Extended chord types have a fourth note and double extended chord types a fifth. You are not going to learn about extended chord types here. If you find them just replace them with a basic chord type.

This simplification method goes as follows:
If there is a "dim" in the chord name then make it a diminished chord
. E.g. Fdim7 becomes an Fdim.
If there is an "aug" in the chord name then make it an augmented chord. E.g. CMaj7aug becomes Caug.
If there is a lower case"m" in the chord name then make it a minor chord. E.g. Bmadd(9) becomes Bm.
Al other chords become major chords. E.g. EMaj7(#11) becomes E (the basic major chord type is not printed, it is the default).

A chord name consists of a root note and a chord type. In the chord "F#m", "F#" indicates the root note of the chord and "m" the chord type. So the chords we are dealing with include 12 rootnotes (for each black and white key in an octave) and 4 chord types. The diminished and augmented chord types are very rare, for most songs you will just need the major and minor chord types.

If you play an arranger keyboard then you could of course use the so called single finger method to play chords. I would recommend strongly against this. If you play full fingered as described here then you will also be able to play your repertoire on a real piano or organ.

The rules to form a chord are simple.

For a major chord: The first key is the rootnote. The second key is 4 semitones higher than the first key. The third key is 3 semitones higher than the second key. So the chord is "root + 4 + 3".
For a minor chord: Root + 3 + 4.
For a dimished chord: Root + 3 + 3.
For an augmented chord: Root + 4 + 4.

So if you have a G#m7 chord, first simplify it to G#m (G sharp minor). The rootnote is G#, 3 semitones up is B, another 4 semitones up is D#. The chord consists of the G# - B - D# keys as shown below.

Another example: CMaj7 becomes C (C major). The rootnote is C, 4 semitones up is E, 3 semitones up is G. The chord is C-E-G.

Instead of trying to memorise all chord types, just remember this method. If you simplify the chords then there are usualy no more then 3 or 4 different chords in a song. Define the keys for each chord before you start playing the song. In the long run you will know the keys as soon as you see the chord name.

If you make a keyboard split on your arranger keyboard then make the second G the highest key of the chord area. You will have sufficient keys to play all simplified chords in that area.

When you are using your keyboard as a piano then the chord keys may sound to low. Play the root key an octave higher. If it's still to low move the second key an octave too.

To play a chord on an arranger keyboard you just need to press the keys simultaneously. All the instruments in the style will play their tunes automatically according to the style that you have selected and the chord that you have played. On a piano just pressing the keys simultaneously will sound rather dull. Instead hit the lowest key at the first beat and the other two keys simultaneaously on beat 2, 3 and four: root - others - others - others. Keep the lowest key pressed as long as possible. If you connect a digital piano or synthesizer to a computer then you can use One Man Band to turn your instrument into an arranger keyboard with real time automatic accompaniment.

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