Minor chords, often overshadowed by their major counterparts, are the unsung heroes of the music world. They are the secret ingredient that adds depth, emotion, and complexity to the music, creating a contrast to the happy and bright sounds of major chords. They are the touch of melancholy in a joyful song, the hint of sorrow in a hopeful tune, and the dash of depth in a simple melody.
In this blog post, we are going to discuss minor chords on the guitar in detail. No matter if you’re a beginner or a professional, this guide will help you out.
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Understanding Minor Chords
Minor chords, along with major chords, are the two most important types of chords in music. They are the building blocks of harmony, the foundation upon which melodies are built. A minor chord is made up of three notes: a root note, a minor third, and a fifth.
The minor third is what gives the minor chord its distinctive ‘sad’ or ‘melancholic’ sound. It’s this unique sound that sets minor chords apart and makes them an essential tool in a musician’s arsenal.
For example, let’s consider the C major scale, which consists of the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. The C major chord is formed by taking the 1st (C), 3rd (E), and 5th (G) notes of this scale.
To transform this into a C minor chord, you simply move the 3rd note (the E) down by one fret, turning it into an E♭. The resulting C minor chord consists of the notes C, E♭, and G.
This seemingly small change has a profound effect on the sound of the chord, shifting it from a bright, happy sound to a more somber, introspective one.
Playing Minor Chords on the Guitar
Playing minor chords on the guitar is a fundamental skill that every guitarist should master.
These chords are used in countless songs across a wide range of genres, from rock and pop to jazz and blues. Whether you’re strumming a gentle ballad or rocking out to a heavy metal anthem, chances are you’ll be playing some minor chords.
We’ll start with the basic minor chords: A minor (Am), B minor (Bm), C minor (Cm), D minor (Dm), E minor (Em), F minor (Fm), and G minor (Gm). Each of these chords can be played in various positions on the fretboard, including open positions and barre chord shapes.
Open chords are played using one or more open strings, while barre chords are played by pressing down multiple strings across the same fret with one finger.
For beginners, it’s advisable to start with open chord shapes, as they are easier to play and provide a solid foundation for learning more complex shapes.
As you gain confidence and dexterity, you can start to explore barre chords and other more advanced chord shapes.
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Minor Chord Progressions
Minor chords are often used in chord progressions, sequences of chords that form the harmonic foundation of a piece of music. Also, they can be combined with major chords and other chord types to create a wide range of moods and musical effects.
Here’s a table that provides an overview of some basic minor chords for the guitar:
|Notes in the Chord
|1st finger on 1st fret of the B string 2nd finger on 2nd fret of the D string 3rd finger on 2nd fret of the G string
|A, C, E
|1st finger on 2nd fret of the A string 2nd finger on 2nd fret of the D string
|E, G, B
|1st finger on 1st fret of the high E string 2nd finger on 2nd fret of the G string 3rd finger on 3rd fret of the B string
|D, F, A
|Barre the 3rd fret with the 1st finger 3rd finger on 5th fret of the D string 4th finger on 5th fret of the G string 2nd finger on 4th fret of the B string
|C, Eb, G
|Barre the 3rd fret with the 1st finger 3rd finger on 5th fret of the A string 4th finger on 5th fret of the D string
|G, Bb, D
|Barre the 2nd fret with the 1st finger 3rd finger on 4th fret of the D string 4th finger on 4th fret of the G string 2nd finger on 3rd fret of the B string
|B, D, F#
For example, a common minor chord progression is Em – Am – D – G. This progression includes both minor (Em, Am) and major (D, G) chords, creating a rich and varied harmonic texture.
Minor Keys and Scales
Understanding minor keys and scales is crucial for mastering minor chords. A minor key is a musical key in which the third note of the scale is a minor third above the tonic note.
Moreover, the natural minor scale follows a specific pattern of tones (T) and semitones (S): T – S – T – T – S – T – T.
For example, the A natural minor scale consists of the notes A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. The intervals between these notes follow the pattern of the natural minor scale.
Major vs. Minor Chords
While minor chords are often described as ‘sad’ or ‘melancholic’, major chords are typically described as ‘happy’ or ‘bright’.
This difference in mood is due to the difference in the third note of the chord. In a major chord, the third note is a major third above the root note, while in a minor chord, it’s a minor third above the root note.
For example, the C major chord consists of the notes C, E, and G, while the C minor chord consists of the notes C, E♭, and G. The E♭ in the C minor chord is a half step lower than the E in the C major chord, giving the minor chord its distinctive sound.
Minor chords are a vital part of the guitarist’s toolkit, adding depth and emotion to music.
By understanding their structure, learning how to play them, and exploring their role in chord progressions and keys, you can enrich your guitar playing and create more expressive and compelling music.
We hope that you enjoyed reading this article, if you have any other questions or queries then let us know in the comments.
- Pallesen K. J. et al. Emotion processing of major, minor, and dissonant chords: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study //Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. – 2005. – Т. 1060. – №. 1. – С. 450-453.
- Suzuki M. et al. Discrete cortical regions associated with the musical beauty of major and minor chords //Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience. – 2008. – Т. 8. – С. 126-131.
- Bakker D. R., Martin F. H. Musical chords and emotion: Major and minor triads are processed for emotion //Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience. – 2015. – Т. 15. – С. 15-31.
Marko is a passionate composer, producer, and multimedia artist with a Master of Music degree. His career involves performing, creating, and producing his own music in his home studio using digital and analogue equipment. Marko is a multi-instrumentalist (he plays guitar, bass, piano, theremin, and other instruments). performs live acts and DJ sets, and works on feature and short films, documentaries, festivals, theaters, and government initiatives.