Minor chords can help add tension and allow for experimentation with various styles.
Though major and minor scales feature the same notes, their patterns of whole and half steps vary drastically to define minor harmony.
Additionally, some musicians utilize suffixes to distinguish triads from each other – this practice is especially common with minor six and minor major seven triads.
The Root Note
Root notes give chords their names and establish their tonality, such as C, the root note being at the centre. Learning new chords should begin with starting on these root notes as this will allow you to rapidly build skills while expanding repertoire quickly.
This rule works for chords of both minor and major categories. A major third acts as an open chord; seven half-steps above that note is its fifth note – making the whole rule applicable across chords with both major and minor pitches.
Chords don’t necessarily need to start and end on the same pitch, though this is a popular practice for easier understanding. When looking at sheet music chord progressions, look out for root as the first note listed if there’s no additional information indicating major or minor chord. If followed by flattened 3rd and 5th notes then likely major.
The Third Note
If you want your song to convey either hope or sorrow, the choice of chords can make all the difference in terms of emotion. That is why understanding major and minor scales is so critical for any guitarist.
First step to creating a triad is identifying its root. This is the note which serves as the starting point for all other notes in a major scale; middle C serves both ends; the scale continues upward from here for two octaves from this note.
Next, establish the interval between the root and third note and use this information to ascertain the quality of the triad. A major third is known as major; otherwise it’s minor. An example would be C-E for major third while B-D would represent an enharmonic (or “diminished”) third – with C-E providing perfect consonance while B-D would not.
The Fifth Note
Minor chords add depth and emotion to your music, no matter if it is soulful ballad or rockin’ out to an upbeat anthem. The main distinction between major and minor chords lies in their third note – this subtle distinction can have a dramatic impact on its tonal quality, emotional resonance, and application.
Learning major and minor scales is relatively straightforward and can easily be applied to chord construction and progressions. Starting from C as the root note in a major scale, when counting up from C you will always reach G, which represents the perfect fifth interval three-and-a-half steps above its key note – in lettered notation C-G or 1-5-G notation respectively.
Layering a major chord with a minor third results in a minor triad; stacking two major thirds creates either an augmented or diminished chord. Ideally, it would be wiser to avoid mixing major and minor intervals together as this will yield very different sound results.
The Seventh Note
An additional seventh note adds richness that softens the “sad” sound of minor chords and makes them more reflective than dark, which explains why Romantic piano pieces, jazz music and modern piano ballads frequently utilize major-7th chords.
As with the fifth chord, seventh chords can be constructed using any note in the minor scale; however, do and fa (1-1 and 4-4, respectively) are most frequently chosen to construct seventh chords. Sol and Ti chords feature minor triads with major sevenths while those built on raised leading tones contain minor sevenths combined with major chords.
As the seventh tone in a chord is a passing tone, it must be resolved into sonorities that lie a fifth below or four above it in terms of root note location. For example, in Example 18-6’s ii6/5 chord the seventh tone can be resolved down to B in its equivalent V chord form.