Guitar Lesson 8 – Chords In A Minor Key

Greetings, World! In today’s lesson we’ll cover what are chords in a minor key. It’s very important to know the structure and fingering. Knowing this will help you finding one’s bearing in any minor. Knowing this simple theory will help you to apply in practice and improvise on every chord.

Today’s lesson will be dedicated to:

  • The structure of the C minor key;
  • Finding chords in it;
  • Easy formula for easier improvisation!

Many great songs are written in minor. It’s like an intelligently sad scale. It makes song more dramatic, maybe sad or even more powerful. Mostly songs are in slow tempo for better “invasion” to listeners mind. I like to call it “invasion to the mind”, because they have mighty impact. It can even lead down to tears.

So, how do we find what chords are in a minor? How can we find them? Let’s try to understand that in easy way.

Guitar chords in a minor

As an example we’ll take C minor key and figure out what chords are in it. Before you start learning the it, you should first know how to build major key. I’ll explain why it’s important later in this lesson.

Here’s the scale of C:

It’s basic scale on all 6 strings starting from the root C on the 8th fret of low E string. As you can see the scale is made from following notes:

C; D; Eb; F; G; Ab; Bb

There’re 3 flat notes in minor which are Eb, Ab and Bb on the contrary to C major which has no flats and sharps. But that’s not the main point here.

From previous lesson you must remember the major formula which goes like:

I; IV; V

It’s the same structure (as in major). From this point of view we get that in the formula root chord is Cm, the 4th chord is Fm which is subdominant and the 5th is Gm which is dominant. (For greater sound and highlight Gm7 is better, because 7th sound more interesting.)

Remember that every note in scale is the extent (C is I, the root), so it goes that every note is chord. For example Gm here is V extent of the key.

Ok, now we have 3 main minors in the key, let’s find out where’re major and diminished ones.

The very important to remember is that in diminished is ALWAYS built on the II extent. In major diminished is on the VII extent, but in minor is the II. This is written down in any theory. Remember that!

Ddim (as a freak in the C family) and all other chords are major. From this we get that:

  • Eb;
  • Ab;
  • Bb;

(all flatted ones) are major;

And that’s it! There’s nothing more here in a minor! As you can see it’s not as complicated as it might be. This is how I understand the progression and the structure. Maybe you’ll find other resources where it’s said that minor starts from the sixth extent of the major scale, but it’s the same. Try to compare yourself some lessons and point out main points for you.

Here’re all chords in C minor key.

Cm. I extent

Ddim. II extent

Eb. III extent

Fm. Subdominant IV extent

Gm7. Dominant V extent

Ab. VI extent

Bb. VII extent

Conclusion of the minor progression

Ok, today we’ve covered another essential guitar basics lesson about the key of C minor progression. It’s very important to know first the major key progression first and then minor one. That’s because major has VII extent diminished chord and minor has II extent. In other guitar theory guides it can be told a little different, maybe it can be mentioned that minor starts from VI extent of the major. But I don’t think like that.

Ok, today we have learned following topic:

  • Basic structure and progression of the key;
  • Minor is almost the same as major;
  • The formula is one for bouth – I;IV;V
  • What chords are in it;
  • II extent is diminished (dim);

For now try to play all chords in a the key of minor and all in major. Try to compare them all and look for same and different nuances. Doing this will help you better understand the theory and easily orient in it. It’s much more valuable time spending in guitar practice then trying to build speed playing fast licks. Music for guitar is taught work, but after some time it will bring your skills to a new level that you’ve never taught before.

Thank you for your time reading this article and I hope you have learned something new from it. Next time we’ll cover the true power of guitar arpeggios.

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