Minor chords

Minor chords are the most common next to major. Then you alter major and minor chords you will hear differences in the quality of sound. The major chords will sound somewhat neutral whilst the minor chords will give a kind of depressing feeling. Besides the main chord, there is also Minor 7th chords (m7), Minor 9th chords (m9) and Minor 6th chords (m6). Hence the abbreviation for minor in chord names is m, but also min as in Cmin and Cmin7 are used.

See diagrams of minor chords:

A minor B minor C minor D minor E minor F minor G minor

See also graphic overview of minor chords in common keys ›

Theory

A minor triad includes three notes and these can be referred to as the root, minor third and perfect fifth. It can also be referred to the first, the third and the fifth notes in the related scale.


We can compare the A Minor Scale with the A Minor Chord:

A Minor Scale: A – B – C – D – E – F – G
A major scale

A Minor Chord: A – C – E
C major chord

The difference between the Minor and Major chord is the second note. The minor third changes to a major third.

We can compare the C Minor with the C Major:

C Minor Chord: C – Eb – G
C Major Chord: C – E – G

Formula and steps

A good way to minimize the memorizing is to learn formulas. The formula for a minor chord is 1 - b3 - 5, which refers to the major scale degrees.

You could also learn by steps. From the 1st note go three half steps to the right to the 2nd note, and from the 2nd note go four steps to the right to the 3rd note.

Other minor chords

As mentioned earlier, there are more groups of minor chords. The most common among these are Minor 7th.

Comparing the A Minor Scale with the A Minor 7th Chord:

A Minor Scale: A – B – C – D – E – F – G
A Minor 7 Chord: A – C – E – G

With an alternative chord name that is seldom used Cm7 could be written C-7.

The Minor 6th chord is consequently built by adding a sixth note. This is actually the same note that are added to a Major 6th (this chord is sometimes referred to as Minor Major 6th) and that mean that the A Minor 6 Chord doesn't incorporates with its relative scale:

Comparing the A Minor Scale with the A Minor 6th Chord:

A Minor Scale: A – B – C – D – E – F – G
A Minor 6 Chord: A – C – E – F#  

Because of this odd feature, the Minor 6th are often treated as an add6 chord. Regardless of names, the important part is that it is a minor triad with an added major third.

There is even another group, called Minor ninth (m9). This chord is built by adding a major ninth to a minor seventh chord.

Comparing the A Minor Scale with the A Minor 9th Chord:

A Minor Scale: A – B – C – D – E – F – G
A Minor 9 Chord: A – C – E – G – B 

With an alternative chord name that is seldom used Cm9 could be written C-9.

All chords that have been mentioned can be seen as diagrams on this site.