Broken chords

Examples of broken chord för piano.

In its most simple form, this is how a series of broken chord could look like in a note system:
Piano notation
In the first bar C is played C - E - G - E, in the second F is played F - A - C - A, in the third C is played C - E - G - E, in the fourth G is played G - B - D - B, and in the last bar C is played G - E - C.

A bit more complex

Here is a simple example with broken chords. Notice how F is used as a static bass note in the first two bars. Also notice how the note lines turns back in the third bar with fingerings 1-5-3 makes the thumb ready for playing the first tone in the next chord (C). The C7 chord in bar four includes only three notes since the third is omitted, a common practice which makes the chord fit the overall pattern.
Piano notation
To this, some notes could be added in the g clef, to enhance the harmony:
Piano notation
When you play broken chords, you could experiment with your sustain pedal (sostenuto) – if you have one – to get a sound you like.


In waltzes is the 3/4 time signature very common and a pattern that follows from this for the left hand is to play the chord in three parts. The first part is one note and the second and third part, which are repeated, include two notes. Here is an example:
Piano notation
Once again, we could add some notes to the g clef for the sake of harmony:
Piano notation
How the g clef is played is not typical for waltzes, but used here as a simple demonstration.

See also Chord exercises ›