Purple Rain Chords: Piano Lesson

purple rain chordsPrince’s Purple Rain chords shows the world how to take a simple chord progression and make it magical!

Want to know how you can do the same thing?

Today I’m going to teach you how to play Purple rain on the piano.

By learning the Purple Rain chords you will awaken a new set of chord voicing skills. But that’s not all!

You’ll also learn an important tip about how Prince transformed a simple chord progression into a classic rock anthem. 

Purple Rain Chords: Video Tutorial

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s start learning! Watching this quick 5 minute video tutorial.

Once you’ve finished watching this video, make sure that you scroll down for important information so you can master today’s lesson! Don’t miss these helpful tips.

How To Master The Purple Rain Chords…

Let’s breakdown the video tutorial above.

The first thing you need to know diving into Purple Rain chords is that, it is in the (Key of Bb).

Now that you know your key, your first piano chord is Bb(add9).

Chord #1 How to Play the Bb(add9) chord.

Here is the notes I play for that chord.

Left Hand: (Bb F Bb) Right Hand: (C F Bb)

Your left hand is playing the root, 5th, root. And your right hand is playing the 9th, 5th, and root of the chord.

Feeling good so far? Great! Let’s keep moving.

Chord #2 How to play the Gm(add9) chord.

Left Hand: (G D A) Right Hand: (Bb D G)

For this pretty chord, your left hand is playing the root, 5th, and 9th. While your right hand plays the flat 3rd, 5th, and root of the chord.

Go ahead and put those together, Bb(add9) in to a Gm(add9). Sounds awesome doesn’t it?

Congratulations! You’re already on your way to mastering the Purple Rain chords.

The next chord change you’ll play is an F(add9) chord.

purple rain chordsChord #3 How to play the F(add9) chord.

Left Hand: (F C G) Right Hand: (A C F)

With this chord your left hand plays the root, 5th, and 9th. Your right hand then plays the 3rd, 5th, and root of the chord.

From here, just drop the F(add9) chord voicing 1 whole step lower. You’re now playing an Eb(add9) chord.

Chord #4 How to play the Eb(add9) chord.

Left Hand: (Eb Bb Eb) Right Hand: (F Bb Eb)

Your left hand now plays the root, 5th, and root of the chord. And your right hand is playing the 9th, 5th, and root.

From here in the arrangement you will go back to your Bb(add9) chord at the beginning. (Check out chord #1)

This chord then carries you back to your Gm(add9) chord. (Check out chord #2)

If you have put these fantastic sounding chords together you’re doing great! The next step is transitioning into the chorus.

Now let’s learn how to play the chorus…

Must Knows About The Chorus Chords!

From your Gm(add9) chord in the second phrase of the first verse, you’ll change things up. Instead of playing another F(add9) chord you’ll play a standard F7 chord.

Important note! Be sure you know why you’re changing the chord progression.

Do you know why? If you answered, “Because there’s a chorus coming up and we need to set up a new section of music” then you’re correct.

You should certainly use this type of music theory technique when writing your own tunes!

Now back to the lesson…

Chord #5: How to play the F7 chord in this song.

Left Hand: (F Eb) Right Hand: (A C Eb F)

Your left hand is playing the root and flat 7. Your right hand is playing the 3rd, 5th, flat 7th, and root of the chord.

You’re almost at the final chord of the verse, keep up the solid work!

Moving from the F7 chord you will resolve to an Bb triad. Bb is the last chord of the verse.

purple rain chordsChord #6: Your voicing for a Bb chord.

Left Hand: (Bb F) Right Hand: (Bb)

A simple 2 note chord. Your left hand is playing the root and 5th. Let your right hand play the root on top.

You then are nicely set up to transition into the chorus. Your first chorus chord is Eb.

Chord #7: How to play the Eb chord in this song.

Left Hand: (Eb Bb Eb) Right Hand: (G Bb) – these are added chord tones

Your left hand is playing the root, 5th, root of the chord. Your right hand should be playing some extra chord tones, in this case G and Bb.

Still sounding amazing! You have 4 more chord progressions to go. Let’s keep moving.

After your Eb chord you’re going to land back on a Bb triad. This is technically a Bb5 power chord!

Chord #8: Bb5 power chord construction.  

Left Hand: (Bb F) Right Hand: (Bb)

Just like before your left hand is playing the root and the 5th. While your right hand is playing just the root above.

Notice how the Bb5 power chord sounds more open. You hear that? When you remove the 3rd from the chord you are left with that opened up sound!

Once you play this wonderful Bb5 power chord you need to transition to a Gm chord.

Chord #9: Gm voicing, plain and simple.

Left Hand: (G D) Right Hand: (G Bb)

Your left hand will be playing the root and the 5th. Your right hand will play the root and the 3rd.

Your next chord progression is another F7 chord. This F7 chord has different voicing from the F7 chord before. Check this out.

purple rain chordsChord #10: How to play the F7 chorus chord.

Left Hand: (F Eb) Right Hand: (F)

This is a simple F7 voicing with your left hand playing the root and flat 7. And your right hand then plays the root above.

Now, Prince knew what he was doing. He sets up the end of the chorus the same way he started it. Experiment with this technique in your songs.

Your last chord progression of the chorus is the same Bb chord from before just add one more voice.

Chord  #11: How To Play The Last Bb Chord In This Song.

Left Hand: (Bb F) Right Hand: (Bb, D)

Again, your left hand is playing the root and 5th. This time though, your right hand is playing the root and 3rd.

Take some time and practice putting all the chord progressions together. Start first with the verse. Once you’re familiar with the verse, throw the chorus chords in.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully learned the Purple Rain chords. There is one more important thing that you need to know.

Take a closer look at the chords in the verse. Do you notice anything special about them? Thats right! Most of these chords take advantage of adding the 9th note within standard chords.

By changing the voicings of these piano chords just that little bit, an entirely new sound emerges! Pretty cool right?

purple rain chordsMore Piano Lessons To Explore!

A huge goal of mine is to help you learn and grow your chord voicing techniques. But that’s just the start!

If you want to learn some more piano theory basics then I know you will enjoy learning exploring piano scales lesson.

And if want to learn more about  how to throw 9ths into your chords check this fun tutorial out. Spice up your major chords using the 9th.

Also, if you want to learn another 80’s classic check then out this The Way It Is piano tutorial.

Or, have fun checking out this Imagine Piano Lesson. Inside this tutorial you’ll learn one of the most recognizable piano riffs of all time!

No matter what, make sure to check back in to the site frequently. New content is released often. You don’t want to miss out on the next exciting lesson!

Until next time enjoy your piano practice. If you have any questions about the lesson and piano tutorial please leave your comments below.

About The Author

Steve Nixon is the owner of PianoLessonsOnline.com. He is a world touring piano player based out of Chicago, Illinois. Steve is thrilled to be your guide to learning piano online!

2 Comments

  • Mark Nichols

    Reply Reply

    Steve, I’ve learned Amazing Grace and Hallelujah. Purple Rain is going to be tough. I had a small keyboard years ago and cheated using the one chord feature. I’m having to train my left hand to play the bass cleft. I’ve never been able to walk up to a piano in a store and just play it, but thanks to you I can at least play two songs. I will start now on Purple Rain. I took piano lessons about 40 years ago as a teenager and my music teacher told me its important to practice at least two hours a day.

    Thank you sir.

    • Steve Nixon

      Reply Reply

      You’re welcome Mark! Keep me posted on your progress 🙂

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