Topic 7 Minor chords

Another fundamental chord is the minor chord. The difference between a major chord and a minor chord lies in the third note. Let’s take again our C chord as an example. If it is major, as we said, the notes that form it are:


In the case of C minor instead, the notes that form it are:

C Eb G

First of all let’s listen to it and notice the huge difference compared to the major chord. Usually, the sonority of a minor chord is associated with something melancholic or sad or, to going back to our weather metaphor, with a rainy or cloudy day.

Let’s see how it is represented in the chromatic circle. With the rubber band, let’s combine the notes C, Eb and G, and we will get:

Look at the triangle in the photo and try to figure out on which note the corresponding major chord is built.

Remember that the building rule is 4-3-5 and that the reading order must be clockwise:

Again a scalene triangle!

As highlighted on the chromatic circle, the intervals between notes are:

  • C-Eb = 3 sT (T + sT)
  • Eb-G = 4 sT (2 T)
  • G-C = 5 sT (2 T + sT)

Since the intervals are all different, then the sides of our triangle are also different and therefore constitute a scalene triangle.

Comparing the two scalene triangles, do you notice any similarities? We immediately notice that they have one side in common, namely the one that leads from G to C. After all, comparing the two triads it is evident that:

  • C E G (major)
  • C Eb G (minor)

That is, in both triads the notes C and G remain fixed. What changes instead is the relationship between C-E and C-Eb. That is to say:

So remember:

  • 4-3-5 scalene triangle = major chord
  • 3-4-5 scalene triangle = minor chord