• There’s always a “major” in a “minor”… and a “minor” in a “major!”

    in Chords & Progressions

    Today, I want to share a concept that a lot of beginners still don’t get.

    There’s not much difference in playing major and minor chords when you think the way I think.

    In fact, as the title loudly declares: There’s a major chord in every minor chord and a minor chord in every major chord.

    Sure, this isn’t apparent in smaller triads, but it’s clear in seventh chords and up, when carefully analyzed.

    First, let me start this discussion by showing you how easy it is to play a minor scale… IF you know your major scale.

    Take this two octave C major scale: C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C.

    There’s a minor scale in this scale and if you’ve been with me a while, you know exactly where it is.

    Simple rule: Take the 6th tone of any MAJOR scale and play the same notes you’d normally play for that major scale — but simply starting and ending on the 6th tone.

    What’s the 6th tone of C? Answer is “A.”

    That means literally play the same notes of a C major scale starting and ending on A. That’s it. Don’t make it harder than it is. Don’t overanalyze. Play C major from A to A and you’ve got yourself an “A minor” scale.

    C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C.

    The same goes for chords too.

    If the “A minor” scale contains the notes of the C major scale, what about their respective chords?


    They do too.

    Here’s an A minor 7 chord: A + C + E + G

    Do you see the C major chord there?

    A + “C + E + G”

    So we can make a rule out of this too.

    Minor 7 chords can be created by playing any major chord with the 6th tone of that major chord’s scale as the bass note. In this case, we played C major with A as the lowest bass note. Altogether, it gave us an A minor 7 chord.

    You can do this with all your major scales and their 6th tones. The 6th tone of F major is D so if you play an F major chord over D, you’ll have a D minor 7.

    The 6th tone of G major is E so if you play a G major chord over E bass, you’ll have an E minor chord.

    Now let’s look at a C major 7 chord: C + E + G + B

    Do you see the minor chord in there?

    I do.

    C + E + G + B

    There’s an E minor chord inside the C major 7 chord.

    And understanding this lets you be very flexible with your major 7, major 9, and other extended chords..

    For example, you can play C in your left hand and pick from any of these “minor” chord options in your right hand:

    All three of these give you a C major 7 chord.

    If you “upgrade” your E minor to E minor 7, that also upgrades your entire chord to C major 9 (instead of the former C major 7):

    So the next time you feel the temptation to confuse yourself over major and minor chords, remember that they need each other. There’s one in the other.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

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


    { 27 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 levi

    thank you for taking the time to send me the free cds i have learned a lot and getting there


    2 Jesse

    Great points, Jermaine! I don’t think I’d ever really thought through all that. Thanks for explaining it all so clearly!


    3 Jonathan

    Thanks Jermaine! What a revelation!


    4 Audrey

    Thank you so much for the tips on majors and minors but how can I use them to play and sing any song? That is what I really would like to do or even play a song that someone else is singing.

    God bless you richly.


    5 Snippetsam

    Am very to learn all these from you, God bless u i need more,thanks.


    6 Tony

    Kind of off topic, but still related in inversions… I find that using one’s ear is indispensable when given the chords to a song. I’m find that root forms are often not used and an inversion used depends on the progression its used in. My ear is at least good enough to know if the progression doesn’t sound smooth. When it doesn’t, I start looking for the inversion that causes the least movement in my had to create the next cord, as well as the one that truly sounds like a smoother transition. One of my biggest breakthroughs was learning about inversions, because it isn’t a topic not touched on very often when it comes to guitar, but a “must know” when it comes to piano!


    7 Mary Nguyen

    Thank you for great lesson


    8 Mary Nguyen

    Could you please send me a major, minor. seventh, and etc chord charts.



    9 Kelvin Godwin

    I must confess that am tremendously greatful and extremely inspired by your updates. You’re indeed a source of inspiration. Thanks a lot. God bless You.


    10 emmanuel

    Thank you very much for this great update Mr. Griggs, and God bless you.


    11 Oriokot

    hi Jermaine this is so powerful thanks a lot.


    12 somarpersad

    this is really eye opening information


    13 bernard

    i really apppreciate u,u’ve been a lot help to me.since i started using this site.


    14 amy

    pretty hard to understand still for me.


    15 Dave

    Thank you for this I like this It helps :)


    16 Richarsd

    Thanks a lot for all your efforts but can i please receive the 1st lessons that I missed
    coz i really want to to have it going


    17 Seth

    Thanks Griggs for everything. God bless you.


    18 GG

    Jermaine, as I said in my recent email to you, you are a fantastic teacher and so very generous with sharing your knowledge. You have already taught me many things that you just don’t learn from many piano teachers. You also are a great motivator and what you do is really making a difference in my learning! You make it exciting and “doable” if one will just put in the practice and effort. Thank you and God bless you.


    19 Ora States

    Wow! This article was an “epiphany” for me! As a beginner, I struggled with understanding major/minor extended chords with inversions in the circle of fourths. GOT IT!! You just made my practice time less “tedious” and more enjoyable and productive. Thanks so much Jermaine. You are truly a God sent and a gem for beginners!!!


    20 theoce

    Wow I rly learnt a lot dats great nd awesme


    21 Ivone Gava



    22 Paula E. Ruth

    I coming along with practice. I also got alot out of this update. I want to study my cue cards right now. GOD and I have come a long way with bringing out the gift that you are watering the seed planted along time ago. Thank-You very much ear doctor. We’re learning something new every time I sit at the piano.


    23 Sharon

    Thank you for showing another way to look things.
    These kind of lessons are very helpful to me and much appreciated .


    24 solomon king

    hi , thanks mr griggs, u are one of the best music tuitors in the world, happy new year and may u see happiness in this world and the next world, AMEN


    25 Dennis Joyner

    Wow, never knew that, great lesson,
    thanks Jermaine!!!


    26 Errol


    Allow me also to R E C I P R O C A T E.. …the same:
    Matt 10:42 – And whoever gives to one of
    these little ones [in rank or influence] even a
    cup of cold water
    he is My Disciple, – (Being God’s S P O K E N Calling on my Life – w.e.f. 1-11-1995!)
    surely I declare to you, he shall not lose his reward.

    Thank you very much for this awesome ‘KEY’ Lesson to produce a minor scale from a major scale + major in minor & vice versa!
    Thank you – again, for this… …”W O W”!


    27 Shakira Cozart

    Great lesson! In the article, you explained how the 6th note of a major scale basically can be built into a minor chords and minor chords that are in major 7 chords can be built into extended chords. The lesson was very clear.


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