Let’s look at how to build an E5 chord on the piano. We’ll also learn the pattern for building any other fifth chord.
What are Fifth Chords?
Fifth chords are technically not chords, since the definition of a chord is “three or more notes sounded together”. But we’ll call them chords since they’re treated like chords at the piano.
To play a fifth chord, play the first and fifth notes of the matching major scale.
Learn how to build a major scale here.
Another way to think of fifth chords is to play the lowest and highest notes of the matching major chord, leaving out the middle note (the third).
Chord Types Printable
Learn to play 17 types of piano chords using 12 different root notes with this 34-page PDF! Chords are sorted both by their root note (C, D, E, etc.) and type (major, minor, etc.).
How to Play an E5 Chord on the Piano
So to play an E5 chord on the piano, we’ll play the first and fifth notes of the E major scale:
E – B
We can use this pattern to build any other fifth chord, by playing the first and fifth notes of the matching major scale.
Now you know how to build an E5 chord, and you can use this pattern to build any other fifth chord.
Fifth chords are really simple to use at the piano. They can work as chord substitutions for major and minor chords, since the middle note distinguishing major and minor chords is omitted. They also create more of an open-ended sound, which can be nice to incorporate into creative playing.
Julie, How will I know when to add these sus chords into the song? Where?
Yes, both fifth chords and suspended chords can work well as chord substitutions for major and minor chords, since both fifth and suspended chords leave out the middle note distinguishing major and minor chords. If you are working with a chord progression, for example, C – F – G – C, you could play C – Fsus2 – G5 – C, or maybe C – F5 – Gsus4 – C, or something similar. It can be fun to experiment with different combinations.
Julie, When playing Amazing Grace, coming to the part like me. It sounds like there could be embellishment added in to be fuller however, I don’t know what I should use. Please explain.
Hi Irene, yes that would be a good place to play some inversions of the chord. What I would probably do is play the chord in root position, then play it again using first inversion, and then again using second inversion, since there is time to repeat the chord before the chord change. You could also play the inversions as broken chords, where the notes of the chord aren’t all played at the same time. We can break up chords in different ways, where the first note of the chord can be played, then the last two, or the first two notes, then the last one, or each note one-at-a-time. Have fun!