Minor Chords

A minor chord is a chord that is made up of 3 notes (and their octaves). The three notes are the root note (1), the minor third (b3), and the perfect fifth (5).

Notice there is only one note different between a major chord and a minor chord. They both have root notes, and perfect fifths; however, their thirds are different. The major chord has a major third (3), and the minor chord has a minor third (b3).
major chord = 1, 3, 5
minor chord = 1, b3, 5

Ok. Let's look at some open minor chords.
The 5 we want to look at are: Am, Cm, Dm, Em, and Gm.
Am = 002210, Cm = X3101X, Dm = X00231, Em = 022000, Gm = 310333.

Now, since the minor chord is a 3 note chord, that means that each note played is one of those three notes.

In Em = 022000, the open 6th string, open 1rst string, and the 2nd fret of the 4th string are the "1" (root note, tonic). The open 2nd string, and the 2nd fret of the 5th string are the "5" (perfect 5th). The open 3rd string is the "b3" (minor third).

In Dm = X00231 (Dm = 100231), the open 4th string and the 3rd fret of the 2nd string is the "1". The open 5th string and the 2nd fret of the 3rd string is the "5". And the 1rst fret of the 1rst string (and the 1rst fret of the 6th string) is the "b3".

In Cm = X3101X (Cm = 331013), the 3rd fret of the 5th string and the 1rst fret of the 2nd string is the "1". The open 3rd string (and the 3rd fret of the 6th and 1rst strings) is the "5". The 1rst fret of the 4th string is the "b3".

In Am = 002210, the open 5th string and the 2nd fret of the 3rd string is the "1". The 2nd fret of the 4th string and the open 6th and 1rst strings are the "5". The 1rst fret of the 2nd string is the"b3".

In Gm = 310333, the 3rd fret of the 6th string and the 3rd fret of the 1rst string is the "1". The open 4th string, and the 3rd fret of the 2nd string is the "5". The 1rst fret of the 5th string and the 3rd fret of the 3rd string is the "b3".

Coverting these to barre chords (Em to "E-shape", etc.) we can see it as a moveable relative position. This should help visualize it.(these are not TAB)

minor "E-shape"(root note on the 6th string)

|-1-|---|---|
|-5-|---|---|
|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|

minor "D-shape" (root note on the 4th string)

|---|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|-5-|---|
|-1-|---|---|---|
|-5-|---|---|---|
|---|b3-|---|---|

minor "C-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|---|---|---|-5-|
|---|-1-|---|---|
|-5-|---|---|---|
|---|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|---|-5-|

minor "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|-5-|---|---|
|---|b3-|---|
|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|
|-5-|---|---|

minor "G-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|---|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|---|-5-|
|---|---|---|b3-|
|-5-|---|---|---|
|---|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|

Recall, that the barre shapes "fit together" to wrap around the neck. The pattern is E-shape to D-shape to C-shape to A-shape to G-shape to E-shape etc.
Try playing Am's one after the other to try and understand how this works. Am (open A-shape)= 002210, Am (G-shape)= 532555, Am (E-shape)= 577555, Am (D-shape)= 8779 10 8, Am (C-shape)= 12 12 10 9 10 12, and Am (A-shape)= 12 12 14 14 13 12.

Here in Fm

|-1|--|--|b3|--|--|--|-5|--|--|--|--|-1|--|--|
|-5|--|--|--|--|-1|--|--|b3|--|--|--|-5|--|--|
|b3|--|--|--|-5|--|--|--|--|-1|--|--|b3|--|--|
|--|--|-1|--|--|b3|--|--|--|-5|--|--|--|--|-1|
|--|--|-5|--|--|--|--|-1|--|--|b3|--|--|--|-5|
|-1|--|--|b3|--|--|--|-5|--|--|--|--|-1|--|--|

Here are some other open/1rst position minor chords: A#m/Bbm= 113321, Bm = 224432, C#m/Dbm= X4212X, D#m/Ebm= X11342, Fm = 133111, F#m/Gbm= 244222, G#m/Abm= 421444.

The minor chord can be extended to some other common chords:

minor = 1,b3,5
m7 = 1,b3,5,b7
m/maj7 = 1,b3,5,7
m6 = 1,b3,5,6
m9 = 1,b3,5,b7,9
m6/9 = 1,b3,5,6,9
m/maj9 = 1,b3,5,7,9
m7/11 = 1,b3,5,b7,11
m11 = 1,b3,5,b7,9,11
m13 = 1,b3,5,b7,9,11,13
m add9 = 1,b3,5,9

Peace,
Chris Roberts


How do I change all those numbers to letters (for notes, chords, etc.)? Here's a transposition chart simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/guitar/8theory3.html

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Last updated December 31, 2002.
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