How to Play Major and Minor Barre Chords

Barre chords are notoriously tricky to play correctly; fretting fingers need to do an incredible amount of stretching while your barre finger must hold down all five strings!

But many barre chord shapes can be simplified and made much easier to play by moving one finger around a fret, for instance.

E Minor

E Minor is an emotive key that can add depth and dimension to any piece. While its reputation often includes associations of depression or sadness, this doesn’t have to be the case; music can convey an array of feelings depending on its context, melody shape and lyrics.

Practice E natural minor scale (E, F#, G, A, B and C). Just as with major keys, notes with their tonic note have names as they descend from it based on scale degree numbers; such as: tonic, supertonic, mediant, subdominant dominant submediant etc.

When practicing E Minor, it’s essential to remain calm and keep your fingers moving freely across the fretboard. Aim to establish a regular practice schedule – even if it means just for a few minutes each day – in order to build muscle memory and improve technique. Furthermore, use a metronome as it will ensure accurate timing throughout.

A Minor

Utilizing the minor mode can create an introspective atmosphere and induce feelings of melancholy. Its unique tonal quality can be identified by an arrangement of whole and half steps between notes that gives rise to its distinct tonality.

Minor scales differ from major keys in that there are several different shapes to be learned, most commonly the natural minor scale based on parallel major key signatures without sharps or flats.

However, other minor scales can also be used to achieve different emotional effects. By increasing scale degrees and creating a harmonic minor scale with two lower notes (subtonic and submediant), which creates tension before returning back to tonic key. Furthermore, modulating from one minor key to its major counterpart can create dramatic shifts that elicit anticipation and emotion in listeners.

G Minor

G Minor barre chord is one of the lesser-used minor barre chords, yet its melancholic sound makes it an effective addition to any song. To play this chord, place your index finger over three strings (E, B & G) before barring with your ring finger on string five (D).

G Minor is often associated with sadness; however, its sound can also evoke joyous tranquility or dreamlike melancholy; this effect can best be captured in Mozart’s beautiful G Minor symphonies.

Modern music often employs this tonality in songs such as reggae classic I Shot the Sheriff by Bob Marley and Cherry Glazerr’s Had Ten Dollaz from rock/blues music genre. Additionally, EDM, hard dance and Drum n Bass tracks that seek to convey feelings of meanness or unease employ this tone too.

D Minor

The D minor chord can be more challenging to play on guitar, as it requires fretting with your pinky finger across three strings and its sound has an unusual dissonant minor second between B and F strings, which sounds very different than its more harmonious major scale counterpart C#/D.

Songs written in D minor often evoke feelings of sorrow and desperation, often through harmonic progressions or descending melodic passages, as in Led Zeppelin’s iconic opening to “Stairway to Heaven”. Artists may use D minor to create dramatic tension by restricting open strings in their arrangement – something the fictional, precocious rock critic in Almost Famous suggested: “Do you need to be sad to write good songs?” This question has been explored by musicians from Schubart to Nigel Tufnel throughout history.