If you know how to form major chords, you'll find it easy to learn how to form minor chords. In this lesson, we will learn how to form "minor triads." First let's define what a minor triad is; a triad are 3 notes either played together or pressed one after another. A minor chord is played using the 1st (root) + 3rd + 5th notes of a minor scale. A minor chord has a symbol of m or min. Here's how to form minor triads:
Time Required: Depends on your playing level
- Learn all the note names on a keyboard. The white key to the left of two black keys is always a C; now moving to the next white keys on the right we have D - E - F - G - A - B then back to C again. These note names just keep repeating. The names of the black keys (and some white keys as well) varies depending on whether it's a sharp or a flat. For example, the black key next to C may either be a C# or a Db.
- Learn how to play the minor scales, also known as natural minor. A scale is a series of notes that go in an ascending and descending manner. To guide you, here are the minor scales in every key:
C = C - D - Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C
D = D - E - F - G - A - Bb - C - D
E = E - F# - G - A - B - C - D - E
F = F - G - Ab - Bb - C - Db - Eb - F
G = G - A - Bb - C - D - Eb - F - G
A = A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A
B = B - C# - D - E - F# - G - A - B
- Here are the other minor scales for flats and sharps:
C# = C# - D# - E - F# - G# - A - B - C#
Eb = Eb - F - Gb - Ab - Bb - Cb - Db - Eb
F# = F# - G# - A - B - C# - D - E - F#
G# - G# - A# - B - C# - D# - E - F# - G#
Bb = Bb - C - Db - Eb - F - Gb - Ab - Bb
- To simplify, you can memorize this formula to form a minor scale = whole step - half step - whole step - whole step - half step - whole step - whole step or w - h - w - w - h - w - w. To make it easier, if you already know how to play a major triad chord, just lower the third note (or the note being pressed by your middle finger) a half-step to make it a minor triad. For example, a C major triad is C - E - G, lower the E a half step (=Eb), thus, a C minor triad is C - Eb - G.
- Now, assign numbers to each note of a minor scale, always assign number one to the root note. For example, in the C minor scale the numbers will be assigned as follows:
C = 1
D = 2
Eb = 3
F = 4
G = 5
Ab = 6
Bb = 7
C = 8
- Now, in order to form a minor triad play the notes numbered 1 + 3 + 5. In our example above for the key of C that is, C + Eb + G, that's the C Minor Triad. Do this pattern to form all the other minor triad chords.
- Added Tip: To play the chords with your right hand, use your thumb to play the root, your middle finger for the third note and your pinky to play the 5th note. For the left hand it's the other way around, with your pinky playing the root, your middle finger still playing the third note and your thumb playing the 5th note.
- Try this: Try playing the following minor triads in this pattern: C minor triad - A minor triad - F minor triad - G minor triad. You can play the notes on a chord one after the other or all at the same time. Just listen to how it sounds.
- Further Reference: Piano Chord Library