Scale notes and building chords on the

Playing chords in the

The notes of the major scale in the key C
C, D, E, F, G, A, B
The relative steps of the major scale
w-w-h-w-w-w-h (w=whole step, h=half step). Learn how scales work
Scale degree of the major scale
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Basic triad chords are using the diatonic interval 1,3,5. Each chord in the scale has a different starting root position.

This page shows you the notes of chords within a scale. The chords are represented by roman numerals and are determined by key (in this case, the key of C). This can be used lookup how to play arpeggios, or how to create chords on different positions. If you are looking for more chords, check the chord overview page. Once you understand the basics, try experimenting with key changes and chord variations on your own.You can easily change the key by clicking the the note-switch in the title. Also, try to add sevenths by choosing "7th chord".

The basic chords in C natural major are: C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am and Bdim

Display total frets:
Note names for the C major scale
If you own a guitar, try playing the first chord, which is an C.
Look at the fretboard and find a position where the notes C, E and G are all on different strings and close to each other and play that. Next exercise is to find the same chord but on different positions on the neck.

Modes for

If you keep all the notes of the major scale the same but change the tonal centre, you create a new scale or mode. Basically, a mode is a scale created by setting a new root note from the given scale. Modes are so to say a different way of thinking about scales and keys. Using modes allows us to assign an individual mode/scale to every single chord in a progression.

The current table shows the triad chords within the major scale and also the mode that can be used.

Chord nameChord notesRelated mode
ICC, E, GC Ionian scale mode
iiDmD, F, AD Dorian scale mode
iiiEmE, G, BE Phrygian scale mode
IVFF, A, CF Lydian scale mode
VGG, B, DG Mixolydian scale mode
viAmA, C, EA Aeolian scale mode
vii°BdimB, D, FB Locrian scale mode

Which chords can I play in C natural major?

In C these chords are in the scale: C, Csus2, Csus4, Cmaj7, Cmaj7sus2, Cmaj7sus4, C9, Cadd9, C5, C6, C6/9, Cmaj7/9, Dm, Dsus2, Dsus4, D7sus2, D7sus4, Dm7, D5, Em, Esus4, E7sus4, Em7, E5, F, Fsus2, Fmaj7, Fmaj7sus2, F9, Fadd9, F5, F6, F6/9, Fmaj7/9, G, Gsus2, Gsus4, G7, G7sus2, G7sus4, G9, Gadd9, G5, G6, G6/9, G7/9, Am, Asus2, Asus4, A7sus2, A7sus4, Am7, A5, Bdim, Bhalf dim7,

Additional information

Difference between chords or arpeggios

Chords and arpeggios are similar as they share the same notes. Chords are played together and strummed. Chord may repeat some of the notes from the chord. For example if you play the good old Em chord, you can play all the strings, so you play 6 notes. But actually you only play the notes E, G and B so some notes are played multiple times but in different octaves. Arpeggios are created from chords notes but played one note at a time. While playing arpeggios, its likely you play multiple notes on the same string, so you can’t hold your fingers in one shape.

The roman numbers in music

Because all the note-to-note relationships in music are permanent, you can use symbols as a time-saving shorthand to understand how chords work in your music.

In the roman numeral system for chords, I (or i) means one, and V (or v) means five. Harmonic analysis uses roman numerals to indicate chords in the music. The numeral indicates the scale step (scale degree) of the root of the chord.
The format of the roman numeral indicates the chord quality, as follows:

  • For major or augmented chords, an uppercase Roman numeral is used. Example: I, II, III, etc.
  • For minor or diminished chords, a lowercase Roman numeral is used. Example: i, ii, iii, etc.
  • For diminished chords, a ° (degree) sign is added. Example: vi°, vii°, etc.
  • For augmented chords, a + (plus) sign is added. Example: I+, II+, III+, etc.
  • For half-diminished chords, a Ø sign is added. Example: viiØ7, etc.
  • For extended chords, numbers are added. Example: ii7, V9, V13, etc.
  • For altered tones/chords, either ♯ or ♭ is added. Example: ♯iv, ii♯7, , ♭III

Chord progressions

Chord progressions are series of two or more chords used in a piece of music.

Now you understand the roman numbers, as example try to play I–V–vi–IV, one chord per bar in the key of C. Without scrolling up, can you tell which chords these are? Which is major, which is minor?

Don’t limit yourself

The (diatonic) major scale in key of C consist of 7 notes; C, D, E, F, G, A and B. Of course there is no reason to restrict yourselves to only those notes. Scales can have more or fewer notes; all the way up to the chromatic scale (12 notes). In some styles it’s very common to add extra notes every now and then, you can get away with many things in music. You can also limit yourself to be more safe, for example the pentatonic scales only have 5 notes.Some say you cannot play wrong notes. Some might sound more dissonant than others, but you are always one semi-tone away from being in scale. This site gives you a reference of how the theory works, but it’s exciting to find out that music is always about breaking the rules.

Major scale in different keys

C major scaleC, D, E, F, G, A, B
C♯ major scaleC♯, D♯, F, F♯, G♯, A♯, C
D major scaleD, E, F♯, G, A, B, C♯
D♯ major scaleD♯, F, G, G♯, A♯, C, D
E major scaleE, F♯, G♯, A, B, C♯, D♯
F major scaleF, G, A, A♯, C, D, E
F♯ major scaleF♯, G♯, A♯, B, C♯, D♯, F
G major scaleG, A, B, C, D, E, F♯
G♯ major scaleG♯, A♯, C, C♯, D♯, F, G
A major scaleA, B, C♯, D, E, F♯, G♯
A♯ major scaleA♯, C, D, D♯, F, G, A
B major scaleB, C♯, D♯, E, F♯, G♯, A♯