Minor Chord Triads / Music Theory Lesson

Author: sleepfreaks

Slightly Adjusting the Major Chord to Make a Minor Chord

Previously, we took a look at how to make a major chord.

This time, we will be looking at the darker sounding “minor chord”.

As a matter of fact, by knowing the basics of the major chord,
you can quickly learn to play minor chords (this rule will begin to apply to all types of chords).

First, lets take a listen to the “C minor chord”.
The chord will play after the individual notes are played.

Minor chords are often depicted as the following:


The most common way you may see it written is as

  • C minor chord = Cm
  • D minor chord = Dm

Lets take a look on notation and the piano roll.



As we learned previously, the root “C” is layered with “Eb” and “G”.
Lets take a look at the D minor chord as well.

These are the notes that make up the chord.



Now we know how to construct a “C minor chord” and a “D minor chord”.
Lets compare the two chords side by side.



After selecting the D minor chord, lets move the root down to C.


Now they have both become C minor chords.
It seems there is a rule to how notes are stacked in a minor chord as well.

Lets see what notes are placed above the root to create a minor chord.

Similar to the major chord, pay close attention to the intervals in the C minor chord.



With C as a root, lets extend the Eb and G above it to the right.


The intervals of a major chord were R, M3rd, and P5th.


For a minor chord, we can see that the M3rd has been lowered a half-step and became a m3rd.

By lowering the M3rd of a major chord to a m3rd,
you can change the bright sounding major chord into the dark sounding minor chord.

Lets compare how they sound.

“C major → C minor”

Speaking on which, the “D major chord” is made up of “D/F#/A”.
By using the knowledge above, we can easily play the D minor chord.



Lower the “M3rd” by a half-step to change it into a “m3rd”.

It sounds like this:

By knowing the difference between major and minor chords,
you can use the knowledge on major chords to easily transform them into minor chords.

Lets go further and take a look at the scale degrees as well.
While a major chord is made up of “1/3/5”, the minor chord is “1/b3/5”.

Lets use the “A minor scale” as an example as it is made up of all white keys and is easy to understand.


In conclusion, the basic of a minor chord is:

  • In intervals: ” R + m3rd + P5th ”
    ✴︎R refers to root
  • In scale degrees : ” 1 + 3 + 5 “

Next time, we will use this information to take a look at diminished chords!

Article Writer: Kazuma Itoh

講師 伊藤
After moving to the USA at 18 years of age with a scholarship from Berklee, he completed a 4 year study focused on song writing and arranging there.
Using this knowledge, he works across a variety of fields from pop music, film music, and more.