Recall, that we defined a chord as a collection of 3 or more distinct notes usually played at the same time (C and C are not distinct, C# and Db are not distinct, but C and C# are distinct).
Recall that open chords are found in the first few frets, and contain open notes.
Recall, that we've been looking at major chords, and that major chords are three note chords (triads).
Now, minor chords are also 3 note chords (triads). Minor chords are written with the letter name (root note), and a lower case m (ex. Cm, Dm, F#m).
We consider the following 5 minor chords:
Em = E,G,B
Dm = D,F,A
Cm = C,Eb,G
Am = A,C,E
Gm = G,Bb,D
Looking at the chords in chord diagrams and TAB, we have:
Starting with the E minor chord (Em=E,G,B)
|--0--| |--0--| |--0--| |--2--| |--2--| |--0--| (Em=022000)
Here we have the E minor chord (written as Em), in chord diagram and TAB forms. (The numbers in the chord diagram, the first picture, are finger recomendations where 1=index, 2=middle, 3=ring, 4=pinky). The 1rst, 2nd, 3rd and 6th strings are played open. The second fret of the 5th string (played by the index finger), the 2nd fret of the 4th string (played by the middle finger). The TAB shows the exact same notes as the chord diagram. the TAB shorthand (Em=022000) also shows the same thing. the E major chord is made up of the notes E,G,and B.
The D minor chord (Dm=D,F,A)
|--1--| |--3--| |--2--| |--0--| |-----| |-----| (Dm=XX0231)
Here in this form of the D minor chord (written as Dm). The 6th and 5th strings are not played, the 4th string is played open. the 1rst fret of the 1rst string (played by the index finger), the 2nd fret of the 3rd string (played by the middle finger), and the 3rd fret of the 2nd string (played by the ring finger). The D minor chord is made up of the notes D,F,and A.
The C minor chord (Cm=X3101X)
|-----| |--1--| |--0--| |--1--| |--3--| |-----| (Cm=X3101X)
This form of the C minor chord (written as Cm). The 6th string is not played, the 3rd string is played open. The first fret of the 4th string (played by the index finger), the 1rst fret of the 2nd string (played by the middle finger), and the 3rd fret of the 5th string (played by the ring finger). The C minor chord is made up of the notes C,Eb,and G.
The A minor chord (Am=X02210)
|--0--| |--1--| |--2--| |--2--| |--0--| |-----| (Am=X02210)
In this A minor chord (written as Am). The 6th string is not played, the 1rst and 5th strings are played open. The 1rst fret of the 2nd string (played by the index finger), the 2nd fret of the 4th string (played by the middle finger), and the 2nd fret of the 3rd string (played by the ring finger). The A minor chord is made up of the notes A,C,and E.
The G minor chord (Gm=310333)
|--3--| |--3--| |--3--| |--0--| |--1--| |--3--| (Gm=310333)
In this G minor chord (written as Gm). The 4th string is played open. The 1rst fret of the 5th string (played by the index finger), the 3rd fret of the 6th string (played by the middle finger), and the 3rd fret of the 1rst, 2nd, and 3rd strings (played by the ring finger). The G minor chord is made up of the notes G,Bb,and D.
The above fingerings are based on the finger-per-fret rule, and are the most common fingerings for these chords. There are times; however, when you may find it more convienent to finger them another way. The fingerings are general guidelines, rather than written in stone commandments.
Consider open position.
E-I-F-|F#-|-G-| B-I-C-|C#-|-D-| G-IG#-|-A-|Bb-| D-IEb-|-E-|-F-| A-IBb-|-B-|-C-| E-I-F-|F#-|-G-|
Recall, that F#=Gb, C#=Db, G#=Ab, D#=Eb, and A#=Bb
(in the tuning system that we use).
We also defined the above 5 minor chords as:
Em = E,G,B
Dm = D,F,A
Cm = C,Eb,G
Am = A,C,E
Gm = G,Bb,D
Now, we call the note which gives the chord its name, its root note.
Comparing the 5 chords we've learned with the open position, we find the root notes for our chords.
E minor (Em = E,G,B)
D minor (Dm = D,F,A)
C minor (Cm = C,Eb,G)
A minor (Am = A,C,E)
G minor (G = G,Bb,D)
note: you can choose which of the two notes to play on the 3rd string of the Gm chord.
Okay. In the above chord diagrams, the circles for the root notes have been replaced with R.
You should memorize where the root notes are in every chord shape you learn (scales too). We will soon use this information to play chords anywhere on the neck (not just the first 4 frets).
We notice by comparing with our 5 major chords we've learned that the corresponding chords (E and Em, etc.) share 2 of the 3 notes they have.
E = E,G#,B Em = E,G,B D = D,F#,A Dm = D,F,A C = C,E,G Cm = C,Eb,G A = A,C#,E Am = A,C,E G = G,B,D Gm = G,Bb,D
The two notes shared in the corresponding chords are the root note (sometimes written 1), and the perfect 5th (sometimes written 5). In the chords E and Em, the note E is the root note (1), and the note B is the perfect 5th (5). (these names perfect 5th, major third, minor third, etc. refer to intervals, which are technical terms for the distances between notes. More on intervals in the following lessons: May 3rd, July 12th, july 19th, and upcoming in the chords section.)
The different note between the two chords is the 3rd. A major chord has a major third (3), and a minor chord has a minor third (b3). We'll go into this in more detail in future lessons. But for now, we note that we can abstract the notes in a type of chord by using numbers, and we can define major and minor chords as:
major = 1,3,5
minor = 1,b3,5
Memorize the chords.
1.) Practice drawing the chord diagrams. pick one of the chords at random, and see if you can draw it without looking at the lesson, or some other source.
2.) Practice playing the chords. Pick out each note to make sure you have a good sound. Pick a chord at random, and try to play it without looking at a chord diagram. Then compare your fingering with the chord diagram.
Switching between chords.
3.) Pick any two of the 5 chords above, and practice switching between them. Start by strumming the first chord 4 times, and the the second chord 4 times, then switch back and repeat. Use a slow enough speed so that you have little trouble changing chords. Practice at that speed until you can change chords without stopping. Then increase the speed slightly, and repeat.
4.) When you can comfortably switch between two chords (at any speed), pick another two chord combination and repeat #3.
5.) When you can do #3 at a reasonable speed, try playing each chord only twice (reduce speed if necessary down to where you can do this without stopping).
Comparison of chords
6.) Draw shapes for the same major and minor chords side by side. See how they compare (ex. open G, and open G minor).
Next lesson is on finding the 5 (the perfect 5th inside of the chords we've learned).
How do I change all those numbers to letters (for notes, chords, etc.)? Here's a transposition chart simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/guitar/8theory3.html
Back to the Chord lesson index
Next Lesson - Finding the 5
Previous Lesson - Root notes