• How To Play Extended Minor Chords For The 3-chord In The Major Key

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Theory

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    In this lesson, I’ll show you, step-by-step, how to play extended minor chords for the 3-chord in the major key.

    In a previous lesson, I described the 3-chord as the most complicated chord in the minor key and also explained to you why this is so.

    In this lesson, I’ll be going a step further into showing you how to borrow extended minor chords from a closely related key. But before I do so, permit me to refresh your mind on the 3-chord.

    An Overview Of The 3-chord In The Major Key

    The term “3-chord” is used to describe the chord of the 3rd tone in the key — be it a major or minor key.

    In the major key, the 3-chord is a minor quality chord starting from the third tone of the scale (which is its root) and extending to become a triad and seventh chord.

    For example, the third tone in the key of C major:

    …is E:

    So, adding chord tones in third intervals, we’ll have the following notes added:

    G:

    …to produce E-G:

    Then B:

    …to produce the E minor triad:

    Adding another tone to the E minor triad (still in third intervals) which is D, produces the E minor seventh chord:

    E minor triad:

    D:

    E minor seventh chord:

    Altogether, there are two basic 3-chord examples in the major key and in the key of C major, they are the E minor triad and the E minor seventh chord:

    E minor triad:

    E minor seventh chord:

    The Challenges Associated With Playing An Extended 3-chord

    It’s possible to extend the size of the 3-chord from the minor triad and minor seventh chord to bigger, sophisticated, and extended minor chords like the minor ninth and minor eleventh chords.

    “Still In The Key Of C Major…”

    The seventh tone of the E minor seventh chord:

    …is D:

    …and a third above D is F:

    So, adding F to the E minor seventh chord produces the E minor seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    E minor seventh chord:

    F:

    E minor seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    …which is a very unpleasant minor chord because of the intolerable dissonance between the following chord tones:

    E and F (the root and the ninth):

    …which is a minor ninth interval.

    B and F (the fifth and the ninth):

    …which is a diminished fifth (aka – “inverted tritone”.)

    So, beyond the E minor seventh chord are two dissonant (highly unpleasant) extended chords:

    The E minor seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    The E minor eleventh [flat ninth] chord:

    …and minor chords are not supposed to have sharp dissonances like the tritone and minor eleventh intervals on these extended minor 3-chords.

    But there’s a way out and I’ll be showing you how to borrow an extended minor chord from a closely related key in the next segment.

    How To Borrow A 3-chord From A Closely Related Key

    The 3-chord in the key of C major:

    …is also the 6-chord in the key of G major:

    So, the E minor triad and E minor seventh chord can be used as scale-tone chords in both keys:

    C major:

    G major:

    …and this is because both keys are closely related.

    A Short Note On The Dominant Key

    The dominant key is the key of the 5th tone of the scale.

    In the key of C major:

    …where the fifth tone of the scale is G:

    …the dominant key is the key of G major:

    The difference in keg-signature between C major and G major is just one sharp (F#) which is the seventh tone of the G major scale. So, both keys are considered as closely related keys and they share the following chords in common:

    G major triad:

    …the 5-chord in C major and 1-chord in G major.

    A minor triad:

    …the 6-chord in C major and 2-chord in G major.

    C major triad:

    …the 1-chord in C major and 4-chord in G major.

    E minor triad:

    …the 3-chord in C major and 6-chord in G major.

    Due to the relationship between the 3-chord in the key of C and the 6-chord in the key of G major, we’ll be borrowing the 6-chord in the key of G major.

    Chord #1 – “The Minor Ninth Chord”

    Using the G major scale (as a reference):

    The minor ninth chord consisting of the following notes:

    E, G, B, D, and F#

    …can be played as the 3-chord in the key of C major and that’s the E minor ninth chord:

    How does it feel playing a 3-chord in the key of C major with F# (a note that is not in the key)?

    Chord #2 – “The Minor Eleventh Chord”

    Beyond the minor ninth chord lies the minor eleventh chord.

    In the key of G major (which is the dominant key):

    …a third above the ninth tone of the E minor ninth chord:

    …which is F#:

    …is A:

    So, adding A to the E minor ninth chord produces the E minor eleventh chord:

    A:

    E minor ninth chord:

    E minor eleventh chord:

    The E minor eleventh chord (borrowed from the key of G major):

    …can be played as the 3-chord in the key of C major:

    Final Words

    Although the F# tone in the extended E minor chords:

    E minor ninth chord:

    E minor eleventh chord:

    …gives the 3-chord a chromatic feel. But the overall outcome is great and cannot be compared to the diatonic options available:

    E minor seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    E minor eleventh [flat ninth] chord:

    If you found this lesson helpful or have any other thing to contribute, kindly post it in the comment box below. Questions and suggestions? Feel free to do the same.

    Thank you for your time, I appreciate.

    All the best!

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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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