• Ask Dr. Pokey: “How Are Minor Chords Applied In The Major Key?”

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    You’re on this page because you’re interested in learning how minor chords are applied.

    The minor chord is one of the four vital chords (fantastic four) that every musician who plays tonal music should be familiar with.

    Attention: This lesson is designed to help beginners who just learned what minor chords are to know how they are applied in the major key.

    Let’s get started with what we have to learn today by refreshing our minds on the minor chord.

    “What Is A Minor Chord?”

    The minor chord (also known as the minor triad) is the a product of the relationship between the first, third, and fifth tones of the minor scale in any key.

    Using the C natural minor scale (as a reference):

    …the C minor chord can be formed when the first, third, and fifth tones of the C minor scale which are:

    C — the first:

    Eb — the third:

    G — the fifth:

    …are played or heard together — “C-Eb-G”:

    In the same vein, the minor chord can be formed using any known natural minor scale on the keyboard.

    “Check Out All The Minor Chords On The Keyboard…”

    The C minor chord:

    The C# minor chord:

    The D minor chord:

    The Eb minor chord:

    The E minor chord:

    The F minor chord:

    The F# minor chord:

    The G minor chord:

    The G# minor chord:

    The A minor chord:

    The Bb minor chord:

    The B minor chord:

    Minor Chords In The Major Key

    There are seven scale tones in the major key and if you consider these scale tones in the key of C major:

    …you’ll have the following scale tone chords:

    The 1-chord:

    The 2-chord:

    The 3-chord:

    The 4-chord:

    The 5-chord:

    The 6-chord:

    The 7-chord:

    Minor chords that are associated with the major key are on the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th tones of the major scale. Hence, the 2-chord, 3-chord, and 6-chord are the minor chords in the major key.

    “Here You Are…”

    The 2-chord, 3-chord, and 6-chord in the major key are as follows:

    The D minor triad:

    The E minor triad:

    The A minor triad:

    …and they are generally classified as secondary chords.

    The Application Of Minor Chords In The Major Key

    Now that we’ve refreshed our minds on minor chords and where they belong in the major key, let’s look at how these secondary chords can be applied in the major key.

    The Application Of The 2-Chord

    The 2-chord in the key of C major takes its root from the 2nd tone of the C major scale:

    …which is D:

    On the right hand, we have the D minor triad which consists of D, F, and A:

    Take note that the upper tones of the the 2-chord (its third and fifth) which are F and A:

    …are identical with the first and third tones of the 4-chord (the F major triad):

    So, both chords:

    The 2-chord:

    The 4-chord:

    …have F and A in common:

    Consequently, the 2-chord can be used in progressions where the 4-chord can be used.

    “So, How Can The 2-Chord Be Applied In The Major Key?”

    The 2-chord can be used as a subsidiary chord to the 4-chord in the major key and don’t forget that the 4-chord is a primary chord while the 2-chord is a secondary chord.

    The Application Of The 3-Chord

    The 3-chord in the key of C major takes its root from the 3rd tone of the C major scale:

    …which is E:

    On the right hand, we have the E minor triad which consists of E, G, and B:

    Take note that the lower tones of the the 3-chord (its root and third) which are E and G:

    …are identical with the third and fifth tones of the 1-chord (the C major triad):

    So, both chords:

    The 3-chord:

    The 1-chord:

    …have E and G in common:

    Consequently, the 3-chord can be used in progressions where the 1-chord can be used.

    “So, How Can The 3-Chord Be Applied In The Major Key?”

    The 3-chord can be used as a subsidiary chord to the 1-chord in the major key and don’t forget that the 1-chord is a primary chord while the 3-chord is a secondary chord.

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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