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What is a 'Minor Chord' Made Of?


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The Sad Anatomy of a Minor Chord

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Just like the major chord, the minor chord is made up of only three specific notes, all played together.

When we learned about the anatomy of the Major chord, we pulled from the major scale, taking note #1, #3, and #5. We filled out the chord by simply duplicating some of those notes, and we always made sure the Tonic or the Root was played as the lowest note in the bunch.

A Minor Chord has only one small difference from a major chord.

In order to understand what that small difference is, let’s review the fact that the major scale is a sequence of notes with a specific distance between each one.

Let's work with the 6th string. and review the number of steps between note number one, and note number three. This is 2 whole steps.

And then let's look at the number of whole steps between note number three and note number five. This is one whole step, plus one half step.

Let’s name these notes, so we know what we are dealing with. A, C#, E. And we now know if we played an A, a C#, and an E all at once, we would have an A Major chord.

Now, To make this a minor chord, we make one small change, and that is to drop reduce the interval from note #1 to note #3 by one half step. We’ll keep note#1 the same (A), and note #5 the same (E). But note #3 is now one half step lower than before, the note C. This interval, 1 +1/2 steps, is called a minor third.

So we have taken note #1, note #3 backed off by one half step, and note #5 just the same as it ever was. A, C, E. Listen to them played all at once on first 3 strings, in Am position.

Fill it out with more A’s or C’s or E’s and we have a A minor chord.
Notice the sad sound of the minor chord.
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