How to Play Minor Chords on Piano

minor chords piano

Chords add depth and texture to music. Understanding their structure is the key to playing and improvising them effectively.

All chords are comprised of intervals – the first, third and fifth notes in a scale – that connect them. To form a minor chord you can build a major chord and lower one half step the middle note by switching it with another note from its scale.


To play minor chords you’ll need a solid understanding of several basic scales. Most important to keep in mind when using various kinds of scales is their pattern of whole and half steps – this remains constant regardless of type.

To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at the C Major Scale as an example. This scale contains three notes with C as its first note and E as its second note; to change it into an A minor chord we simply lower the middle note (Cb). Repeating this process gives us A minor chords.

So far we’ve discussed chords known as triads because they contain three notes. To create one, begin with the root note, adding three semitones higher notes until reaching four semitones higher – R + 3HS + 4 HS.

There are various kinds of minor scales, including natural minor, harmonic minor and melodic minor. While each are very similar in tone and structure, learning them all at the same time will make your transition between them simpler.


Triads, composed of three notes, are most often used for accompaniment purposes. From block chords and arpeggios to arpeggios and everything in between, triads can be played in any rhythm and style imaginable – they’re often employed alongside singing or another instrument as accompaniment.

Triads can be constructed using any scale and begin on any note; simply choose your key, count four half-steps up to reach the major 3rd, add three more until reaching a perfect 5th, then lower this middle note one octave down for a minor triad.

Major chords tend to sound upbeat and cheerful, while minor ones often sound darker or melancholy. Minor chords are widely used across genres and songs by numerous popular artists (P!nk’s “Get the Party Started,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Run Through the Jungle”) interspersing them with major ones (e.g. Get the Party Started by P!nk and Run Through the Jungle by CCR are notable examples). Furthermore, these triads are easy to construct while being easy to play – perfect for beginners!


A minor triad is composed of three notes: its root note, minor third and perfect fifth. The minor third sits half step below its respective root note while perfect fifths sit one whole step higher on either side.

Addition of a seventh to a major triad produces a major seventh chord; similar steps can be used with minor triads to produce minor seventh chords. These chords can help connect chords together more mellowly.

To play a minor 7th chord, place your thumb on the root note, count four keys (including black keys ) right and place your second finger there; count another three notes right and put your third finger there, creating a C minor 7th chord! These chords allow for faster chord changes while simultaneously creating an engaging playing style.


Diminished chords might sound odd, but they can create some fascinating effects. One such application of diminished chords is as a walk-up chord between V and minor VI; simply place your thumb on the fifth note of C major (G for diminished) and raise it half step to create the diminished chord before playing all other notes in C major to form its subordinated minor chords.

Reduced chords can also be useful as passing chords between chords that have stronger links to the key, or simply for creating tension within an ensemble progression.

To form a diminished chord, simply hold a major triad and flatten its top note by half step – this process is similar to making an augmented chord; alternatively you could move the whole chord up or down by an entire step step.