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Piano Chords, Minor Blues

Updated on January 7, 2021
Jon Green profile image

For many years i taught music theory in college, developing some short cuts to playing piano and keyboards.

Minor chords

Minor chords, like major chords, only require three different notes.

  • Major chords use the following intervals from the root note - 1, 3, 5
  • Minor chords use 1, b3, 5
  • So just by moving one note down a semitone, the third, any chord can be made into a minor chord
  • Try using these chords in the right hand, with the left hand playing a bass note, same as the lowest note of the chord.

Cm or C minor is a chord formed with the notes C, Eb and G. It's colour-coded in blue on the diagram. You can then take the same shape, and use it for both Fm and Gm, which is useful because all three chords are in the same key, Cm. You can learn these chords by using logic (1, b3, 5) or visually by remembering the shape, which is often faster.

Fm is coded in red, Gm is coded in green.

Sometimes in a song you will find the Gm changed to G7, which is F,G,B in the right hand and a low G in the left hand.

Using the Cm pentatonic scale, you can improvise over any chords in Cm or Eb. If you are new to improvising, you may find that using minor chords is a very easy way to get started.

Lastly, there is a Cm pentatonic scale. With this scale you can improvise over the chords, or create a bassline underneath them. If you have the rather wonderful Garageband programme- free with Macs- you could easily lay down some tracks with this info.

Minor chords and scales

Let's get technical

What other chords work with Cm? Well, the relative major chord is Eb, so all the chords in Eb will work, plus that G7 we mentioned earlier.

Chords in Eb : Eb, Fm, Gm, Ab, Bb, Cm, Dm7b5, Eb

12-Bar blues in Cm - see table below. Each Bar is 4 beats long, you can use Cm pentatonic to play a solo over the chords, also use the same notes to create bass lines.

The same scale will also work over any song in the key of Eb. In the same way, if a song is in the key of F, you could use a Dm pentatonic scale to solo over the chords. In G, the scale would be Em.

Cm7 - this is just a Cm chord with a Bb note added. The Bb should be in the middle of the chord, not the highest note, to get the best sounding voicing. What are voicings? - the order the notes appear in any chord.

Cm9 is the same, this time adding a D as well, usually to the middle of the chord. Bb D Eb G in the right hand, with a low C in the left hand.

The blues sequence shown below could be exemplified by The Thrill Is Gone, a 12 -Bar blues by BB King. Just change the chords in bars 9 and 10 to:

Ab maj7, G7 sus4, G7.

You can look these chords up at a site like

12- bar Blues in Cm


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