Learn Minor Chords in 11 Easy Steps

If you’re just starting out learning how to play the guitar, one of the first things you need to learn are minor chords. Minor chords are essential for creating a rich and nuanced sound in your music. In this blog post, we will provide a beginner’s guide to understanding minor chords.

If you’re ready to dive into the world of minor chords, keep reading!

11 Steps to Learning Minor Chords

Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Minor Chords

In music, minor chords create a sad or ominous feeling, which is why they’re often used in film scores. If you want to add some emotional depth to your playing, learning how to construct and use minor chords is essential.

In this guide, we’ll break down the minor chord in 11 easy steps so you can start using them in your own music!

Step One: The Minor Scale

The first thing you need to know is the minor scale. The minor scale consists of seven notes, and it’s the scale that a minor chord is derived from. It has a specific pattern of whole and half steps, which gives the minor scale its distinct sound.

To understand minor chords, you need to be familiar with the minor scale.

  • Minor Scale Interval: W – H – W – W – H – W – W
  • Minor Scale Formula: 1, 2, ♭3, 4, 5, ♭6, ♭7
  • C minor scale: C – D – Eb – F – G – Ab – Bb

The flatted (lowered) three notes of a major scale are the distinction between the major and minor scale: the ♭3, ♭6, ♭7.

In the minor scale, the ♭ third gives the minor chord its distinctive sound. When you hear a minor chord, it might sound “sad” or “dark.”

The minor chord is built on the flatted (♭) third of the major scale. To find the minor chord in a key, look for the minor triad built on the ♭ third scale degree.

In the key of C, the minor chord would be built on the note Eb (♭ third).

Step Two: The Minor Chord Formula

To form a minor chord, you need to know the minor chord formula. This is simply three notes played together in a certain order. To form a minor chord, you use the first, third, and fifth notes of the minor scale.

Minor Chord Formula: 1, ♭3, 5

The minor chord consists of the first, ♭ third, and fifth notes of the minor scale or simply a flattened third of your major chord notes. It’s vital to understand your major scale or chord when learning minor chords.

Step Three: The Three Types of Minor Scales

There are three types of minor scales: natural, harmonic, and melodic. Each type has a different sound, so it’s important to know how to play all three.

Natural Minor Scale

The natural minor scale is the most common type of minor scale. The natural minor scale is the naturally occurring diatonic scale with no altered scale degrees or added accidentals. The notes in this scale are simply C-D-Eb-F-G-Ab-Bb.

The sound of the natural minor scale is often described as sad, dark, or serious.

Harmonic Minor Scale

The harmonic minor scale is a variation of the natural minor scale. The main difference between the harmonic minor scale and the natural minor scale is that the seventh note is raised by a half step. The notes in this scale are C-D-Eb-F-G-Ab-B.

The harmonic minor scale, which has a prominent raised seventh note, is perhaps the most distinctive sound of all. It is often used in classical and jazz music. The sound of the harmonic minor scale is described as exotic, dramatic, or suspenseful.

Melodic Minor Scale

The melodic minor scale is another variation of the natural minor scale. The melodic minor scale is the same as the natural minor scale, except that the sixth and seventh notes are raised by a half step. The notes in this scale are C-D-Eb-F-G-A-B.

The melodic minor scale is used in many popular styles of music, such as rock and pop. The sound of the melodic minor scale is often described as happy, bright, or positive.

Now that you know the three types of minor scales, it’s time to learn about minor chords.

Step Four: Finding the Minor Chord in a Key

Finding a minor chord in any key is simple if you know the major and minor scale tone qualities. The minor chord is always built on the ♭ third of the major scale.

There are just three notes in minor that can be found in both scales. In a Major Scale, the first, fourth, and fifth notes are major chords. These are the minor quality notes of a Minor Scale, however.

You can also check the scale qualities listed below.

Minor Chords In The Major Key

  • Major Key: I ii iii IV V vi vii°
  • Minor Chords: ii, iii, vi

Chords In The Minor Key

  • Minor Scale Formula: 1, 2, ♭3, 4, 5, ♭6, ♭7
  • C minor scale: C – D – Eb – F – G – Ab – Bb

Chords in minor keys usually follow the pattern described below: minor diminished major minor minor major major.

Minor Scale Quality: i, ii°, III, iv, v, VI, VII

  • i – minor
  • ii° – diminished
  • III – Major
  • iv – minor
  • v – minor
  • VI – Major
  • VII – Major

The chords in the C minor key are as follows: C minor (Cm), D diminished (D°), Eb major (Eb), F minor (Fm), G minor (Gm), Ab major (Ab), and Bb major (Bb).

Now that you know how to find the minor chord in a key and the minor family chords, try playing around with different keys and chord progressions.

Step Five: Playing Minor Chords on Your Guitar

Perhaps we’re accustomed to major chords that are simple and straightforward to play, but minor chords may also be found by beginners that are both simple and quick to fret.

Now that you know where to find minor chords in any minor key signature, it’s time to start playing them on your guitar. To do this, you need to know the fingering for a minor chord. The distinction between a major and minor chord will be obvious if you play barre chords. The difference is indeed minor!

Step Six: Practicing Minor Chords

When practicing minor chords, start with the basics. One way to practice is by playing chord progressions. This will help you get comfortable with using minor chords in songs.

Keep in mind the note qualities of your minor family chords to identify the chords in any chord progression.

  • Minor, diminished, major, minor, minor, major, major.

Key of Am: Am B° C Dm Em F G

  • i-VI-III-VII: Am F C G (This is one of the most popular)
  • i-iv-v: Am Dm Em
  • i-VII-VI: Am G F
  • VI-VII-i: F G Am
  • i-VI-III-iv: Am F C Dm
  • i-VII-VI-v: Am G F Em
  • i-iv-III-VI: Am Dm C F
  • i-iv-VI-v: Am Dm F Em

There are many other progressions you can practice. The important thing is to get comfortable using minor chords in your playing.

Step Seven: Using Minor Chords in Songs

Once you’ve practiced and mastered minor chords, it’s time to start using them in songs. To do this, you need to find songs in minor keys. A song in a minor key has a sad or dark feeling to it. We may discover simple minor chord songs when we’re playing around with the radio or our favorite playlist.

Step Eight: Experimenting with Minor Chords

Consider trying out different keys and progressions. See how minor chords change the feel of a song.

Then, try adding minor chords to songs with major progressions. This can give the progression a different sound.

Understanding Minor Chords

You may also want to start substituting them in songs. Minor chords may also be used in place of major chords in progressions. This is a common way to change the feel of a song. It can create interesting sounding progressions.

For example, if a song is in the key of C major, you could substitute an Am chord for the C chord. This would give the song a minor feel.

You might be surprised at how well it sounds!

Step Nine: Writing Your Own Songs with Minor Chords

One of the best ways to learn is by writing your own songs. So why not try writing a song using only minor chords? This will help you get comfortable with using minor chords in your own music.

Start by writing a chord progression using minor chords. Then, add a melody over the top. You may want to try improvising a melody first. Once you have something you like, you can start working on the lyrics.

Minor chords are commonly used to express sadness, but you may make cheerful and bright tracks with minor chords or keys if you try.

Step Ten: Playing Minor Chords in Other Keys

Once you’re comfortable playing minor chords in one key, it’s time to start playing them in other keys. This will help you become more versatile as a musician.

Step Eleven: Conclusion

Minor chords can be tricky for beginners to understand since we’re more exposed to the major scale and family. But with a little practice, you’ll be playing them like a pro in no time!

Experiment with different sounds and see what you can come up with! Who knows, maybe you’ll come up with the next minor hit!

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