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Piano - Minor Chords

Updated on September 7, 2020
Jon Green profile image

After teaching for years, I'm convinced that basic piano is essential for all musicians.

Playing minor chords

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

How do intervals work? Assign a number to each note in a major scale. A C chord will have the notes 1, 3, 5 or C, E, G.

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.

Why use this scale instead of C major? It's just easier and will usually sound better as it avoids the two tricky notes that can clash with the chords.

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.

Am harmonised scale will use the same set of chords, but starting on Am instead, and in practice the Em can be replaced by an E7 chord, something you will often find in well known songs, even Moonlight Sonata is a good example.

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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    • Hezekiah profile image


      4 years ago from Japan

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

    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      8 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      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.

    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      8 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      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.

    • profile image


      8 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 imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      9 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      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.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      i need the note on how to creat minor cord

    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      10 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Thanks nikmaya and mquee, you're welcome.

    • mquee profile image


      10 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.

    • profile image

      Jon Green 

      10 years ago

      Thanks prasetio. All the best with your hubbing.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      10 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.


    • nikmaya62 profile image


      10 years ago

      Nice Lesson.


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