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Making music with the F major chord: songs, progressions, and more

f major chord

In this article, we’ll discuss different aspects of the F major chord, such as common piano fingerings, inversions, common progressions, and even a few song recommendations for you to start putting into practice what you’ll learn by the end — Let’s get started!

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What is the F Major chord?

Before we begin talking about the F major chord, it’s important to realize that there is nothing inherently unique or different about the F major chord compared to the other major triads — it’s just one of many possible major chords! However, the specific way in which the black and white piano keys are arranged makes it so that certain chords are more ergonomic to play, and therefore easier and more comfortable to learn than others. Luckily, F major is one of those chords!

f-major-chord

The F major triad: F, A and C.

F major, like any triad, consists of three notes — in this case:

  • F (the root)
  • A (the third)
  • and C (the fifth)

Before moving on, if you’re unfamiliar with triads or need to refresh your memory make sure to check this Skoove article about major and minor chords which will help you get up to speed!

How to play the F major chord

As we mentioned earlier, F major is a friendly chord to learn in the piano and that’s because it only involves white keys, which allows us to have our fingers all at the same level or height relative to the keyboard. Of course, as you continue to improve your playing skills, you’ll notice this will become less of an issue, but for beginners it can be of great help! 

Playing the chord and fingerings

As with any other chord, there are several ways of playing F major, each with varying fingerings based on the number of notes we choose to play with each hand. To start, let’s consider a basic fingering:

basic-fingering-of-the-F major-chord-in-both-hands

Basic fingering of the F major chord in both hands

Here we have both hands mirroring each other, using the thumb (1), middle (3), and pinky (5) fingers for each note of the triad. However, the possibilities are endless when we consider each chord’s inversions.

Inversions of the F major chord

First, let’s do a quick reminder of what chord inversions are. Inversions simply refer to which note of a triad is the lowest in register. Two things to notice about this definition:

  • By note we don’t mean the specific pitch, but rather the role that the pitch plays within the triad — in other words, whether that note is the root, the third, or the fifth of the chord. 
  • Since the type of inversion is only determined by the bass note, the specific arrangement of the notes above it has no impact on deciding which inversion we’re dealing with.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at each inversion:

Root position

F major-chord-in-root-position

Another common fingering for the F major chord in root position (both hands)

Notice that these notes are exactly the same as the previous example, but the fingerings changed. This fingering is also quite common, and can be useful depending on the context of the song (what happens right before or after), or the size of your hands. 

Notice also that F is the bass note of the chord, which means this is a root position chord. Again, this remains true regardless of how the notes above it are arranged. For instance, the following fingerings are also in root position:

 root-position

 root-position

 root-position

Fingering chart for F major chord in root position

The root position is by far the most common to find in songs, as it makes the triad sound clearer and more resonant to our ears. This level of clarity and resonance is lesser with the other two inversions.

First inversion

1st-inversion-right-hand

1st inversion (right hand)

The first inversion of F major is defined by having A as its lowest pitch. This inversion is also very common to find in songs, since it has a subtle impact on the sound quality, while preserving some of the resonance we get from root position. Here are some other 1st inversion fingerings:

Fingering-chart-for-F-major-chord-in-1st-inversion -both-hands

Fingering-chart-for-F-major-chord-in-1st-inversion -both-hands

Fingering-chart-for-F-major-chord-in-1st-inversion -both-hands

Fingering chart for F major chord in 1st inversion (both hands)

Second inversion

2nd-inversion-of-right-hand

2nd inversion of  (right hand)

Lastly, we have the 2nd inversion, which has C as the lowest note of the triad. This inversion is used with less frequency relative to the previous ones — not because its sound is unpleasant, but simply because the quality of the chord changes enough to be given a special role within chord progressions. This special role, known as the cadential, is a topic that merits its own article, but for now it suffices to say that it’s a comparatively less common inversion to find in songs. Here are some other versions of F major in 2nd inversion:

2nd-inversion-both-hands 2nd-inversion-both-hands 2nd-inversion-both-hands

Fingering chart for F major chord in 2nd inversion (both hands)

Playing the F major chord in the left hand

When playing piano, and in music more generally, the lower register has a noticeable impact on the resulting sound. Hence the importance given to inversions and why they’re determined only by looking at the lowest sounding note. In the case of the piano, of course, the lower register tends to be the left hand’s responsibility, and it’s therefore important to treat it differently.

For instance, when playing F major, we can play all 3 notes with our left hand. However, generally speaking, it’s far more common to play the root alone (and sometimes with the fifth) with our left hand, and have the right hand spell out each note of the the triad, like so:

common-distribution-of-notes-across-the-register

It’s worth mentioning that this is not specific to piano playing, but to music in general: Keeping notes more spaced in the lowest register results in more resonant, brighter harmonies. That is why the previous examples intentionally had only one note on the left hand. Of course, this isn’t a hard rule or is descriptive of every song, but it’s generally a good intuition to have when playing and creating chord progressions.

Common F major chord progressions

Now that we have discussed some common fingerings for F major, let’s take a look at some common chord progressions in the key of F:

common-F-chord-progression

Common F chord progression

The chord progression above is one of the simplest ones we can come up with, since it only uses 2 chords, F and C. You’ll notice that the third chord has an extra note — Bb — which makes this a major minor-seventh chord: You can learn more about seventh chords on piano, but for now all we need to know for now is that:

  • It’s a very common chord to find most music genres.
  • It adds tension to the chord, making the arrival to the F major chord more satisfying.

Try playing these chords and see if it reminds you of any songs you know!

common-F-chord-progression

Common F chord progression

This chord progression is also quite common, but there’s a few interesting things we can notice about this one:

  • Here we have 3 chords, one of them being the G minor chord in 1st inversion. Try playing this chord in root position (with G as the lowest note), and see how the color of the chord, and the overall progression changes.
  • Even though the progression in the key of F, it starts with a different chord: C major. This helps to create more expectation, since there is no sense of resolution (which would be provided by F major) at the beginning or end of the progression. Again, play it and see if you agree.

Let’s consider one last progression

common-F-chord-progression

This last one is slightly more complex and not really as common as the previous ones — in particular, it contains two chords that are not diatonic (a fancy way of saying they don’t belong) to the F major key: E minor and A major. Nevertheless, there’s a good reason why it’s included here. If you wanna guess, start playing it and see if it reminds you of anything. If not, keep reading!

Songs with the F Major chord

Did the progressions above remind you of any songs? Well, that’s likely due to the fact that they’re all taken from three different, very popular songs by The Beatles! In order of appearance, those songs are:

  • Hey Jude
  • Yellow Submarine
  • Yesterday

What’s more, you can learn all of them through our Skoove app’s Beatles Songs piano course! Here’s a brief walkthrough of each of the lessons:

Yellow Submarine and Yesterday

These two lessons teach you how to play the lead melody in the F major scale, while using your left hand to play a bass line that, when combined with the melody, suggests the different harmonies we see in the progressions from earlier. It’s a great and simple way to start learning new songs.

Go to the lesson

Go to the lesson

Hey Jude

Different from the previous lessons,, you get to play the full harmonies with your left hand, allowing you to hear each chord more clearly while helping you practice voice-leading (how one chord transitions into the next) on the piano.

Go to the lesson

Let it be

This song, even though it is in the C major key, does include F major chords throughout. It is perhaps the most advanced song of the course, since you’ll learn to play harmony and melody in both hands. It’s a great way to test what you learned in this article!

Go to the lesson

Time to play like The Beatles!

In this article we learned what the F major triad is and some common piano fingerings for each of its inversions. Additionally, we explored a few progressions taken from 3 famous songs by The Beatles, all of which are available for you to learn through our Skoove app. All there’s left for you to do is to start learning them to continue improving your piano playing skills. We hope you enjoyed the reading and until next time!

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Author of this blog post:

Felipe Tovar-Henao is a Colombian composer, developer, and researcher, whose work focuses on algorithmic creativity, sound perception, memory, and recognition. His music has been performed and commissioned by international artists and ensembles such as Alarm Will Sound, Grossman Ensemble, Sound Icon, NEXUS Chamber Music, and Quatuor Diotima, and featured in many festivals around the world, including WOCMAT (Taiwan), SICMF (South Korea), SEAMUS and SCI (US). He’s currently based in Medellín, Colombia, where he’s Professor of Music theory at EAFIT University.

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