The B flat chord is such an interesting chord to learn. It has the least amount of flats out of all the flat chords (and flat keys, for that matter!)
The key of B flat (aka Bb) only two flats: Bb and Eb. And the chord has only one flat. It is really not too hard to learn! I’ll teach you lots of tips as you get started.
What is a Bb Chord?
When you see the term “Bb” this is an abbreviation for B Flat. A “b” is a flat sign in music theory.
Bb in written form looks the strangest of all the flat chords because it is two B’s right next to each other. That is why it is easiest to always write the first B capitalized, and the flat lower case. Otherwise it would look like this: bb. This is an acceptable way to write it, but a little harder to follow especially in a post like this. 🙂
Anyway, the B-flat chord is basically just a chord in the family of major chords, made up of 3 notes in what’s called a triad. It is formed the same as any other major chord – by building a major third and then a minor third on top of that.
If that sounds confusing, don’t worry! I’ll put it in beginner terms soon and show you lots of keyboard diagrams to help you out.
Is It A-Sharp Or B-Flat?
Now, before going further, we need to talk about an important topic. Because Bb is a black note, it has two names.
The A# major and Bb major chords are the same physical chord but with different spellings.
I know this might be confusing, but every black key on the piano has TWO names. The note Bb can also be A# (since it is both a half step UP from A and a half step DOWN from B). Flats always go a half step down and sharps a half step up.
(Want to learn more about flats and sharps? See this video).
So in a sense, like I said, Bb & A# chords are the same because they use the same exact notes. Your hand will be in the same place when you play both of these chords.
However, the spelling of these two chords are different.
Here are the two spellings:
Bb – D – F
A# – C## – E##
It goes without saying that most pianists (and any instrumentalists, for that matter) will prefer the Bb spelling. A# is a very uncommon chord to see. No one likes trying to read or write double sharps, and the A# chord features two of these.
In this post, of course, we will be exploring the flat spelling of this chord.
How To Play A B-Flat Piano Chord
Now let’s get into the details of the Bb chord!
You will play a Bb major chord simply by pressing down the 3 notes in the triad simultaneously. See below for a diagram on which notes are included.
Notes In a Bb Chord
In its regular form (root position) the B-flat chord includes 3 notes: Bb, D, and F. Notice that this chord has only ONE black key (unlike other flat chords like D-flat or E-flat!)
The Bb is known as the root of the chord, the D is the major third, and the F the perfect fifth. Check out Bb major on the keyboard below!
Let’s talk a little more about finding these notes if you’re a beginner at playing piano.
What Key On The Piano Is Bb?
When learning this chord, you’re going to want to start by finding what’s called the root of the chord – the note on the bottom. In this case, that note is B-flat, which as we have discussed, is a black key.
Bb, as the name suggests, can be found by going directly below any B. Just go to the first black key to the left of a B (in musical terms, this is called going one half-step down!)
Another way to think of it is that Bb is on the far right of any 3 black key group.
Hopefully one of these methods will stick in your memory so you can always find Bb easily!
Bb Chord Piano Finger Position
Now that you’ve seen the notes, it is time to understand which fingers should be played where. Fingering is a very important part of learning piano. Don’t ignore this step! If all my students would recognize this, they could save themselves so much wasted practice!
The nice thing is that the fingerings for major chords are always the same. Yes, even for the flat chords! Even though this chord feels different because of the flats, you will still use the same exact fingering.
Right hand fingering: 1 – 3 – 5
Left hand fingering: 5 – 3 – 1
Don’t forget that finger 1 is your thumb, finger 3 your middle finger, and finger 5 your pinky.
More Piano Chords To Learn
- G7 Chord
- Gb Major Chord
- G Major Chord
- Ab Major Chord
- A Major Chord
- B Major Chord
- Db Major Chord
- D Major Chord
- E Major Chord
- Eb Major Chord
- F Major Chord
Bb Chord Inversions
Now that you know the simplest form of the Bb chord, you are ready to try inverions! While fingering is one important aspect of chords, inversions are another. Don’t skip this.
An inversion is just the SAME notes but mixed up into different orders. Bb inversions will feel VERY unique because it is the only major chord with 1 flat in it. However, the more you practice putting your hand in the form, the more it will start to feel normal.
Bb/D – First Inversion Chord
Bb first inversion is also known as “Bb/D” or “Bb flat over D” (the slash can be read as “over”). T
he reason for this is the D is now on the bottom of the chord. As you can see below, you’ll flip the Bb from the bottom onto the top for first inversion.
Right Hand fingering: 1 – 2 – 5
Left hand fingering: 5 – 3 – 1
Bb/F – Second Inversion Chord
Bb second inversion is known as Bb/F, for the same reason as the last chord—the F will now be on the bottom!
To play this on the piano, start with your hand on first inversion. Then, take the D on the bottom and put it on the top.
Now, F will be on the bottom, which is exactly what we want! See below:
Right hand fingering: 1 – 3 – 5
Left hand fingering: 1 – 2 – 5
As one final step, I highly recommend you try switching back and forth between ALL the different inversions when you practice! I normally have my students start at the root chord, go up the inversions, and then come back down to the root. This will help you get used to the way the different chords feel with the flats.
Bb Major Inversions Sheet Music
If you prefer to follow sheet music, here are the B flat inversions written out on the staff.
Chords In The Key Of Bb
You’re doing great! We’ve covered quite a bit about the Bb chord, but there is still more to learn.
Did you know there are other chords that can go along WITH this chord? In fact, a chord can be built off of each note in the B-flat scale.
Here’s a quick list you can refer to:
vii: A diminished
There are only 2 flat chords in the key of Bb – yay! The rest are all major and minor chords played on the white keys. If you’re working on learning chords like these, here are some tips for memorizing piano chords!
What Chords Go Well With B-Flat?
Any of the chords listed above will go well with the Bb chord, because they are all in the same key signature (2 flats). However, they will sound better if you play them in certain orders. This is called a chord progression.
Common Chord Progressions In The Key Of Bb
Playing chord progressions in the key of Bb is not too hard since there are just 2 black keys to worry about. Here are a few I love to do:
- Bb – F – Gm – Eb (I – V – vi – IV)
- Bb – Eb – F (I – IV – V)
- Cm – F – Bb (ii – V – I)
- Bb – Eb – F – Gm (I – IV – V – ii)
B flat is a fun, happy chord. It is a great place to start if you’re just getting into the world of flats. So now it’s your turn—sit down at the piano and practice! First, get a feel for the notes in the Bb chord. Once you’re comfortable, try inversions and maybe even some chord progressions. You got this!