How are they related to the musical notes? I can relate notes to the melody of a song but I can’t understand how chords are composed they way they are.

FYI, I’m learning piano and not understanding the theory of chords makes learning very frustrating.

  • Obtain the sheet music, or at least 'top line and chords' to a lot of songs. Play them, study them. If we try to give you a set of rules, you'll just keep finding exceptions!
    – Laurence
    Dec 24, 2016 at 17:31

1 Answer 1


The chords are usually written to the melody of a composition. Any given chord of a composition will usually contain one or more of the notes from the melody within its triad. The subsequent chord progression of the composition is the ultimate outcome of the pairing of the chords to the melody. This combination of melody and harmony is where some real magic happens...

One can play the melody's underlying chords in various ways to achieve different effects:

Or, substitute the underlying chords entirely to create an almost original-sounding tune:

I'd suggest getting all of the academic parts of chord theory under your belt (LOTS of good posts here and other info on the Interwebz.) Then, pick a favorite melody, learn the chords, and go about practicing the variations. Then try to begin writing new chords under your chosen melody.

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