Major and minor chords are two of the fundamental components of music, creating depth and emotion within songs that can touch audiences on an intimate level.
Major and minor chords differ significantly due to their various third notes. While this may appear simple, its impact can have profound ramifications on tonal quality and emotional resonance.
The major scale is at the heart of most musical harmony. Chords consist of multiple notes played simultaneously from any part of the major scale; additionally, it forms the basis for many modal forms.
Major scale patterns can be found everywhere in music – they determine what chords work well together and create tension and release in songs. On a micro level you can witness their pattern through progressions like I-IV-V or even simple chord progressions such as C-E-G.
Every note in a major scale has an associated number that corresponds with its position in the key signature, written as Roman Numerals and flattened letters of the musical alphabet can be flattened to create different intervals that can form series of triads derived from any major scale starting on its tonic note.
No matter whether you’re creating an arena-ready rock anthem or singing along to a soulful ballad, learning the blend of Major and Minor chords is crucial to your musical journey. Doing it right will not only strengthen your guitar playing abilities but allow you to express emotion more freely while telling stories with greater depth.
Triads are among the easiest and most versatile chords you’ll find in music, consisting of just three notes that lie within one octave of any major scale regardless of key. Their simplicity also makes them easier to play and move around on the fretboard.
Triads can be described using Roman numerals or vertical numbers (figured bass) to convey information about their structure and content. For instance, Roman numerals or vertical numbers (figured bass) may be used to denote scale degrees upon which they were constructed as well as quality indicators – for instance I stands for root, III middle, IV fifth. It is the quality of this interval between third and fifth that distinguishes major from minor triads.
Triad chords can also be inverted by switching up their order of roots, third and fifth notes based on chord quality. While we will explore this in later lessons, for now simply aim to play your chords in their original order.
Minor chords often sound sad or mysterious and are used across various songs and genres. Similar to major chords, minor chords can also be interspersed with other types of chords to create harmony progressions.
Minor chords vary significantly from major triads in that their perfect fifth is replaced with a dissonant tritone (lower note + middle note + upper note), producing less stable sounds that require additional practice to play without dissonance. They remain great options however; just take more practice playing them properly! For ease of playing first inversion minor triads may be preferable as these keep the root note as low as possible while just shifting its distance from third to fifth note interval.
The minor scale is very similar to its major scale counterpart but leaves out two notes. Its five-note pentatonic version is widely employed across East and Southeast Asian, Native American, and sub-Saharan African music genres.
As with a major scale, notes in a minor scale can also be altered by flattening or sharpening them, though changing its third can dramatically alter its tonality.
Natural Minor is the most ubiquitous minor scale. Every major key has an equivalent relative minor that shares its key signature; to locate one of them, start on its tonic (C for instance) and count down one semitone until reaching the relative minor key (A in this instance).
Harmonic minor is another frequently-used minor scale, raising its seventh tone a half step from that of its major counterpart to create an A fully diminished chord and B dominant 7th chord when used at its root.