How to play the C major chord on the piano
Let’s go through some charts and musical examples that will familiarize you with the C major chord and how to play it in the various different forms you will encounter in pieces of music.
First, we’ll look at the most fundamental chords and inversions; then, we’ll explore some more complex voicings and real-world examples.
C major chord theory and function
The C major chord is the root in the key of C major, the dominant (V) in the key of F major, and the subdominant (IV) in the key of G major. It is a consonant chord and has an open, resonant sound.
Examples of the C major chord in music
To put the C major chord in context, here are some examples of famous pieces of music in which the C major chord appears prominently.
Beethoven: Sonata No. 3 in C Major
This sonata opens with a gentle but firm statement of the C major chord in root position. It is then surrounded by neighboring tones and reinforced by the dominant chord.
Bach: Prelude in C Major, WTC Book I
This iconic prelude uses the C major chord in a broken pattern to solidly establish the key.