How to Build Minor Chords on the Piano

minor chords piano

Minor chords add depth and variety to your music – whether you’re writing heartbreak ballads or simply hoping to uplift others! Learn how to construct them on piano!

Major chords tend to be covered first in piano lessons; this isn’t because minor chords are more complicated; rather they just sound different!

Root note

Root notes of minor chords are known as tonic notes, and learning their playing will help you better comprehend and play them more effortlessly. By doing this, the root note will make chords much simpler to play!

Root notes may consist of any one of twelve tones in a scale and are indicated by writing it after the chord symbol, for instance “C E G”. Minor chords also use these notes with their third reduced, for example “C E Bb”.

There are numerous variations of minor chords. Some include extra tones above the third called suspensions; for instance, C minor major 7th chord contains both minor 3rd and major 7th notes making it appear difficult to play; but actually is quite straightforward and can easily be learned.

Third note

How a chord is classified as major or minor is determined by its distance between notes; this distance between bottom and top notes of a chord is known as its interval, which determines its major or minor character. A major chord has three notes between bottom and top; four or five notes comprise its minor counterpart. If one or more chords feature three of these intervals then that chord can be classified as major while having only two notes or no third at all will result in minor chord.

Basic three-note minor chords, known as triads, can be extended into 4-note chords by adding an interval of a minor seventh above the root – this results in chords ending in either Cm7 or Cmi7.

To help us grasp this process, let’s consider two examples. First is a C minor chord which doesn’t contain any black keys – making it easier for beginners to play. Next comes a C major chord which offers something completely different; its major third sound more open and pleasing on the ear than its minor 3rd counterpart.

Fifth note

Minor chords are similar to major chords in that their root remains constant while third and fifth tones switch; with minor going at the bottom and major on top.

Minor chords sound bleak and melancholic for this very reason – the slight change can make an enormous impactful statement about its tone and texture.

Sometimes we come across major chords with minor seventh extensions known as slash chords (Cm/C). This phenomenon occurs more commonly in jazz music.

An augmented or diminished chord allows musicians to alter the sound of minor chords like C7#9. This technique adds tension and emotion to your music by altering one note higher or lower in an already established chord, such as C7#9.


Chord inversions are an invaluable way to add variety and complexity to any chord, as well as making it easier to remain on one particular chord as you ascend and descend the scale. Being aware of this concept will only enhance your piano playing capabilities when creating and improvising original music! Knowing this concept is vitally important when creating original tunes!

Minor triad chords differ from major ones by not possessing an interval with a flat third; instead they may be decorated by adding either a minor seventh or major seven as embellishment.

To do this, start with the root note and add either a minor third above it or major seventh below it to create either an m7 or m9 chord, respectively.

Learn the skills necessary to use inversions effectively to add variety to your music and make playing easier! As inversions reduce hand movements, you will find it faster (without looking at the keyboard!)