Keyboard - minor chords

Playing minor chords

These minor chords all use the same shape, it's play-one-miss-one.

If you look at the intervals involved, a minor chord is 1, flat 3, 5, whereas a major chord uses 1, 3, 5.

Dm = D, F, A If you apply a play-one-miss-one principle, this shape starts on a D note. Colour-coded green on the diagram.

Em = E, G, B Same shape, starts on E. Colour = blue

Am = A , C , E. Same shape, starts on A. Colour = red

The scale that works with these chords is Am pentatonic (pentatonic just means 5-note scale) or C major, C D E F G A B C.

Am pentatonic is the notes A, C, D, E, G, A shown on the lower picture.

Am chord (A minor)

Minor chords Dm, Em Am

Dm chord

Em chord

Chords in Am

These three chords are from the C or Am harmonised scales.

The Harmonised scale of C contains the chords C   Dm   Em   F   G   Am   B dim   C

Any song in this key will use these chords, or some of them, to create harmony.

Practical uses

You can use these three minor chords to play a minor 12-bar blues. They will sound much better if you put a bass note in your left hand, A for an Am chord, etc.

Minor 7th chords (m7)

In most situations in pop, rock, blues and country music you can improve the harmony in a very simple way - replace any minor chords with minor 7th (m7) chords.

For Dm7 - just move the D down to a C, the other two notes stay the same. You should have a low D in the bass (left hand) or it's won't work well.

Now, apply the same principle to the Em and Am chords. Em7 is D,G,B in the right hand, low E in the left.

Am7 - just move the A down to G. The notes in the chord are now A,G,C,E left to right.

All other minor chords work in the same way.

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Comments 11 comments

nikmaya62 profile image

nikmaya62 6 years ago

Nice Lesson.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

I always found new lesson from you. Thanks for share with us. I'll bookmark this hub. Good work, my friend. You always become my music teacher.


Jon Green 6 years ago

Thanks prasetio. All the best with your hubbing.

mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC

Very good, I will have to get my grandson into music, unfortunately right now he is too young to read your hubs. Thanks for good music lessons.

Jon Green profile image

Jon Green 6 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK Author

Thanks nikmaya and mquee, you're welcome.

frank 5 years ago

i need the note on how to creat minor cord

Jon Green profile image

Jon Green 5 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK Author

Hi Frank - a minor chord is the intervals 1, flat3, 5 - where one is the name of the chord. So Cm (C minor) would be C, E flat and G.

Am = A, C, E

Dm = D, F, A

Note that the intervals or distances between the notes is always the same.

Linea 4 years ago

I go to pianoclasses every tuesday, and I have to learn this song for my next class. But I can't remember how to play these..









Yeah.. It's basically the grips I don't remember and I can't find help on youtube or google.. So, i'm kinda of stuck, and there's only two days to tuesday.. so.. PLEASE HELP ME! please!!! :)

Jon Green profile image

Jon Green 4 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK Author

OK , it's still Sunday, so let's not panic! We don't have the note H, but I think it's German for B! Right hand chords - thumb at left of chord, little finger plays top note.

Em = EGB (left to right) Play that in your right hand, with your left hand going down D, C sharp, C, B

Am = ACE in the right hand

Then play the same chord with G, then F sharp in your left hand

C7 = Bb, E , G with C in left hand

B7 - move everything down one step A, D sharp F sharp with B in left hand. It's easier than it sounds.

Jon Green profile image

Jon Green 4 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK Author

One more thing - chords like Em/D are called slash chords. It means you play a chord with a different bass note in your left hand, the note after the slash sign/

Often these are an inversion of the chord, and only the notes of the chord are being used, just in a new order.

Hezekiah profile image

Hezekiah 4 weeks ago from Japan

Nice Hub. I tend to play a lot of minor chords, especially 9ths. Since I play in the Neo Soul genre.

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