How do I Play the Open Piano Chords on the Piano?

Written by carl hose
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How do I Play the Open Piano Chords on the Piano?
Voicing notes in a chord in open position spreads the chord tones for more melodic freedom. (piano image by Sergey Goruppa from

A basic triad chord on a piano is made from the first, third and fifth notes of the scale that shares the same name as the chord. These triads (three-note chords) are typically formed with the left hand on piano, with all of the notes clustered together. Playing an open piano chord (OPC), a pianist positions and doubles these notes across keyboard with two hands, which allows for more freedom of movement and a wider variety of playing options.

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Things you need

  • Piano
  • Chord book
  • Scale chart

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  1. 1

    Familiarise yourself with basic chord structure. The C major scale is C-D-E-F-G-A-B. A simple C major chord will be made up from the first, third and fifth notes of this scale. Those notes are C-E-G. Adding the seventh note of the scale (B) would give you a C major seventh chord -- a C major with the seventh degree of the scale added. This basic theory will allow you to build any chord. It's a good idea to keep a major scale chart and a chord construction chart handy until you are completely familiar with this concept.

  2. 2

    Build a common C major triad with your right hand. Find middle C and place your index finger on this note; place your middle finger on the E; place your ring finger on the G. There will be one white key between each of your fingers. This is a closed chord. Familiarise yourself with this position to help illustrate the versatility of the open chord. Now remove the first and fifth notes and leave only the third of the scale (E).

  3. 3

    Place the pinky finger of your left hand on the root note of the chord, on any C below middle C and your index finger on the fifth note (G). Now you're playing the notes of a C major chord in the open position -- first and fifth notes with your left hand and the third note of the scale with your right. This open position allows you to play chords and melodies with very little hand movement by combining the two hands to form chords and by picking the melody from the chords or notes nearby. A closed chord keeps your fingers tied up.

  4. 4

    Form any open chord by playing the first and fifth notes of the chord with your left hand and playing the third with your right. You can also double the first with your right to strengthen the tonal centre of the chord. If you have a seventh or suspended chord, play the seventh or fourth notes of the scale with your right hand.

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