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Triad Chord Construction for Guitar Part 2 - Minor Triad Chords

Alright, we are going to look now at the construction of another triadic chord type : minor. As we have said, chords are built out of their corresponding scales. This is as true for the minor, augmented, and diminsished chords as it was for the major chords. We will be looking at these scales later, but with our current understanding of major chord construction we are ready to tackle these new additions to our toolbox.

The minor chord is built by making a slight alteration to our major chord. By replacing the 3rd interval of our major chord with a flatted third, we will produce the sound that we recognize as minor. Letís start with the C major chord. The C major chord is a good reference chord because it is built from the C major scale, which has no sharps or flats and is therefore easier to understand than some other possibilities. You may have thought that since the alphabet starts with A, and the musical alphabet also starts with A, that we would look to the A scale or A chord as a reference point for a new idea. However, the C major scale and C major chord have no sharps or flats and are therefore typically easier to understand. This is why you will observe that instructional materials often utilize C as a beginning point of reference.

Remember that the C major chord, open position has a third interval on the fourth string, 2nd fret. To convert C major to C minor, we will simply lower the third interval note by one half step. So instead of playing C-E-G, we are now playing C-Eb-G. Try this for yourself and you will hear how a minor chord sounds in comparison to a major chord. Here is a chord chart to simplify the operation:

C minor chord chart

You will find this chord fingering difficult. This particular form of the C minor is rarely used, so don't spend time mastering it. The point here is to illustrate the concept that the minor chord is constructed by flatting the third interval note of the corresponding major chord.

Here is a chart with the minor chords in the open position. We have included a ghost circle to identify the location of the third interval note from the original major chord. Notice that we had to move the third interval of the original E major chord off the fretboard to flat it, resulting in a minor chord that is easier to play! Take a look at the G minor chord. We flatted the third interval B note on the fifth string. In the G major chord the B note on the second string was an open note (no fretting), so we could not flat this note. Instead, we replaced it with a fifth interval D note on the third fret.

minorchords chart

Practice playing these chords with the strumming technique we looked at previously. You will need to memorize them as quickly as possible, but don't get discouraged if it takes a while. The G minor and C minor open position forms are not very practical to play, so don't tie up any time on them. We include them here to help illustrate the concept of how a chord is "minored", but there is no need to memorize these two chords. We have two more triadic chord types to look at, then we will delve into chord progression construction, where you will learn how to match chords to create a satisfying progression. For the moment here are some chord progressions you can use to practice with. We will soon be expanding on playing hand technique.

G-C-Em-D

Am-Dm-Em-Am

D-A-Bm-G

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