7 Jazz Piano Chords That Sound Great for LoFi Hip Hop

Update:

As of writing this, LoFi Weekly released a cheat sheet for lofi piano chords named, “Jazzy Piano Chords for LoFi Hip Hop.” This 2 page cheat sheet gives you 6 lofi chords that apply to any root note giving you infinite variations. If you’re a producer looking to create your own lofi samples, look no more!

You said, “Jazz Piano Chords?”

Producers describe jazz chords when talking about lofi hip hop, but what does that mean? How do you play jazz chords? While jazz chords, progressions, and notes may seem complex, we’re here to make that learning process simple! Jazz pianists use different techniques such as extended harmonies, seventh chords, and voicings. After building a strong foundation with chord progressions and triads, the music becomes much more approachable.

Understanding jazz piano chords that sound great can help you get a feel for the music and rhythm of this genre. Here we are looking at the seven most popular jazz chords. Knowing these chords will build a solid foundation and propel your ability to make lofi chord progressions.

For simplicity, chords in this article will have a root note of C, and include a formula for each chord based on their scale. To start, let’s look at the C major scale as an example. There are eight notes in this scale and each number (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8) has a note that corresponds to it (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C). We will breakdown each chord using this formula.

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Let’s get started.

Chord 1 – Major 7th Chord

You will use the C, E, G and B notes to make up the major 7th chord. As a formula we write this as root, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the C major scale. This chord is the centre of most chord progressions in jazz music. Plus, it sounds great and gives you a brilliant foundation for your jazz piano playing. You will play this chord most commonly with your left hand as it forms the bass line for many jazz songs.

Chord 2 – Dominant 7th Chord

We use dominant chords in jazz music because they serve many purposes. In addition, they are a base chord for blues music. This chord sounds great on the low notes of the left hand on the piano. The formula for the dominant 7th chord is root, 3rd, 5th and b7. This means that the notes are C, E, G and B flat.

Chord 3 – Minor 7th Chord

This chord is another step in building up your basics of piano playing. You will need to know major, dominant, and minor chords to nail this genre of music properly. We often throw minor chords into jazz music in the most unlikely places. You will use the formula of root, b3, 5th and b7 for this chord, meaning your notes C, E flat, G and B flat. Given the uniqueness of many consecutive flat keys, it may take time getting used to hitting so many black keys at once.

Chord 4 – Diminished 7th Chord

Diminished chords have their own area of study in jazz music because they substitute in for other chords used in this style. They can be tricky to find in jazz music but understanding what the diminished 7th chord is should help you spot them more easily. To play this great sounding chord you will have your formula of root, b3, b5 and bb7. Don’t let this formula intimidate you because it basically means you play the notes of C, E flat, G flat and A.

Chord 5 – Major 9th Chord

You’ll find this great chord familiar because it’s just an extension of your major 7th chord. You just add in an extra 9th at the top of the chord which makes it sound more whole. The piano formula for this chord is root, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th. This means your fingers will play C, E, G, B and D.

Chord 6 – Dominant 9th

The brilliant part of a dominant 9th chord is that it can substitute in for dominant 7’s as well. Similar to the major chord, it extends on the basic notes. This chord sounds great on the piano when you can hit it properly and you will find this one featured in many jazz tracks. This jazzy chord consists of root, 3rd, 5th, b7 and 9th, so the notes will be C, E, G, B flat and D.

Chord 7 – Minor 9th Chord

Last, we’re looking at the extension to the minor 7th chord. It’s a brilliant chord to round out our list because it has a deep tone to it that resounds well on the piano. You will use the formula of root, b3, 5th, b7 and 9 for this chord. Translated, this gives you the notes of C, E flat, G, B flat and D.

Conclusion

These are many of the core piano chords most commonly used in jazz music. Jazz’s rhythm and chord progression heavily inspired lofi hip hop, and this will be a great resource for any aspiring producer. These chords are not only for pianists. Guitarists and any other instrumentalist that uses chords can play these. Practice with these chords and you’ll be creating great lofi jazzy chord progressions in no time!

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