E-flat is a lovely chord on the piano. Like many other flat chords, it has a nice mellow sound.
Since Eb is flat key, it will feel different than white key chords like F, G or A major. But don’t let that scare you! E flat is very easy to play. I’ll teach you everything you need to know, and give you diagrams and tips as you’re learning.
What Is An Eb Chord?
When you see the term “Eb” this is an abbreviation for E Flat. A “b” is a flat sign in music theory.
The E-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 Eb Major The Same As D# Major?
Now, before going further, we need to talk about an important topic. You might be wondering if Eb major and D# major are the the same chord.
The answer is, yes and no.
The physical notes are the same, yes, but the spelling of the chord is different.
I know this might be confusing, but every black key on the piano has TWO names. The note Eb can also be D# (since it is both a half step UP from D and a half step DOWN from E). 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, Eb & D# 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:
Eb – G – Bb
D# – F## (double sharp) – G#
Most piansts prefer the E-flat spelling because it is simpler. It has two regular flats and a white note. D#, on the other hand, has a tricky spelling with an F double sharp.
I won’t get into the specifics of double sharps in this post (if you’re interested in that, check out my post specifically on D# major)—the main thing you need to know for now is that Eb is much easier and if you’re a beginner, you’re going to want to start here!
How To Play An E-Flat Piano Chord
Now let’s get into the details of the Eb chord!
You will play an Eb 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 The Eb Chord
In its regular form (root position) the E-flat chord includes 3 notes: Eb, G, and Bb. Notice that the first and third notes will be flats, while the center will be a white-key.
One way to think of this is opposite to D, A, and E chords. These chords have one sharp in the middle. But Eb has one white key in the middle with black keys on either side!
Anyhow, the Eb is the root of the chord, the G is the major third, and the Bb the perfect fifth. Check out Eb 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 Eb?
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 E-flat, which as we have discussed, is a black key.
Eb, as the name suggests, can be found by going directly below any E. Just go to the first black key to the left of an E (in musical terms, this is called going one half-step down!)
Another way to think of it is that Eb is directly above any D.
Hopefully one of these methods will stick in your memory so you can always find Eb easily!
Finding G And B-Flat On The Piano
After finding Eb, you’ll need to find the white key in the center, as well as the second flat. While this may seem intimidating, just take your time.
Remember, these 3 notes will all be a 3rd apart as far as intervals go. Make sure to use the keyboard diagram while looking at your own piano to make sure you get them right!
Eb Chord Piano Finger Position
Once you know WHERE the notes are, it’s time to figure out which fingers to put where! If there’s one thing you should know right now it is that fingering is important. If all my students would recognize this, they could save themselves so much wasted practice!
If you’re thinking that these chords are too small to be of much importance, think again. Practicing chord fingerings now will help you greatly in the future!
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
Eb Chord Inversions
Now that you know the simplest form of the Eb chord, you need to start trying out inversions! While fingering is one important aspect of chords, inversions are another. Don’t skip this.
Again, Eb inversions will feel a little strange because of the two flats. However, the more you practice putting your hand in the form, the more it will start to feel normal.
By the way – if you’re unsure what inversions are, they are basically just the SAME notes but mixed up in a different order. Instead of having the Eb note on the bottom, we’ll switch it up and put G and Bb on the bottom. I’ll explain more below!
Eb/G – First Inversion Chord
Eb first inversion is also known as “Eb/G” – the reason for this is the G is now on the bottom. As you can see below, you’ll flip the Eb from the bottom onto the top for first inversion.
Right Hand fingering: 1 – 2 – 5
Left hand fingering: 5 – 3 – 1
Eb/Bb – Second Inversion Chord
Eb second inversion is known as Eb/Bb, for the same reason as the last chord—the Bb will now be on the bottom!
To play this on the piano, start with your hand on first inversion. Then, take the G on the bottom and put it on the top.
Now, Bb 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.
Playing E Flat Major Chords In The Left Hand
After you learn how to play the Eb chord and inversions, you can try doing some cool things with it in the left hand too!
If you try to play the basic chords down lower on the piano with your left hand, it won’t sound too good. This will make a very “thick” sound. You can’t hear the notes very clearly. My students usually scrunch up their noses anytime they hear a chord like this, haha.
So instead of just playing the chords in the left hand, I recommend experimenting with different voicings of the E Flat chord.
This basically just means you will still play the main chord in your right hand…but then you will also play a bass note to go along with it in your left hand.
Here is an example of how you could play an Eb chord split between BOTH of your hands:
- Start by playing the regular root position Eb chord in your right hand
- Put any note you learned in the Eb chord down as a base note in the left hand. You can play a low Eb to make it root position, or you could play a low G or Bb and that would make it first/second inversion.
- Try experimenting with different note combos! You can change up the inversion in your right hand and the bass note in your left hand to get different sounds.
Chords In The Key Of Eb
You’re doing great! We’ve covered quite a bit about the Eb 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 E-flat scale.
Here’s a quick list you can refer to:
vii: D diminished
There are 3 flat chords in that list, along with some minors and one diminished. Take each chord one at a time as you learn them – and if you want, check out some tips on memorizing piano chords!
What Chords Go Well With E-Flat?
Any of the chords listed above will go well with the Eb chord, because they are all in the same key signature (3 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 Eb
Playing chord progressions in the key of Eb will involve (you guessed it!) a lot of flats. But don’t let that intimidate you. The more you play these chords, the better you will get at recognizing them.
- Eb – Bb – Cm – Ab (I – V – vi – IV)
- Eb – Ab – Bb (I – IV – V)
- Fm – Bb – Eb (ii – V – I)
- Eb – Ab – Bb – Fm (I – IV – V – ii)
E-flat is truly a lovely chord and a lovely key. It has a pretty, mellow sound like many other flat chords. Keep practicing your notes, inversions, and fingerings and in no time you’ll be playing Eb chords like a pro!