Beginner Piano Bass Chords
After getting used to the treble clef, the bass clef can be a bit tricky. Empty
Garbage Before Dad Flips and FACE no longer apply to your chords or your notes. In fact, all of the notes are
one step lower, starting at G instead of E.
In this article, we will give you some simple, easy to use bass clef chords that will allow you to get used to
using a whole new clef.
Before we get into chords, let’s talk about the clef itself. The bass clef, as mentioned above, starts on the
note G. This means that we are a full step lower in all positions. The lines of the staff are, from lowest to
highest, G, B, D, F, A.
The spaces between the lines of the staff are, from lowest to highest, A, C, E, G. A great way to remember these
new note orders is by making a sentence out of them. For the staff lines, the most common is; Good Boys Do Fine
Always. For the lines in between, the most common is; All Cows Eat Grass.
This is the easiest way to remember your notes. Because the notes have changed, your triads and all of your
chords placements and, in some cases, shapes have changes as well.
Take for instance an A minor triad. No longer will it be located in the second, third, and fourth spaces between
the lines of the staff. It will be moved to the first, second, and third spaces of the staff. For other chords, you
will end up having to add ledger lines in order to fit them, such as an F Major seventh piano chord.
One of the easiest exercises to start off with to get fully used to the bass clef is to find your chords on it.
Find all of the basic C Major triads, from tonic to subtonic.
One by one, these chords should be:
Tonic: C – C, E, G
Supertonic: D – D, F, A
Mediant: E – E, G, B
Subdominant: F – F, A, C
Dominant: G – G, B, D
Submediant: A – A, C, E
Subtonic: B – B, D, F
Once you can easily find the positioning of these chords on the bass clef, try tackling the next major key in
the circle of fifths; G Major.
One by one, the chords should be:
Tonic: G – G, B, D
Supertonic: A – A, C, E
Mediant: B – B, D, F#
Subdominant: C – C, E, G
Dominant: D – D, F#, A
Submediant: E – E, G, B
Subtonic: F# – F#, A, C
Work your way around the circle of fifth, all the way to F Major. This will allow you to familiarize yourself
with the new placements as they relate to the key signature as well, as all of the key signature moves down, and
some of it moves up.
The best way to get better with bass chords is to practice and get good piano instruction. Finding them is only half the battle; playing them is the war.
Once you find the chords, play them. This will allow you to begin learning sight reading from the bass clef. Have
fun, and good luck.