A minor chord (or a "minor triad") is a chord composed of three notes, where the distance between the first and the second note is three semitones and the distance between the second note and the third note is four semitones.
The E minor chord, for example, is Em and consists of the notes E, G, and B. There are three semitones between E and G. There are four semitones between G and B.
The minor chord can also be described as composed of the minor third and the perfect fifth of some scale. In the minor scale in E, for example, the third note is G. G is a minor third, because the interval between the first note E and G is three semitones. The fifth note on the scale is B. It is a perfect fifth, as the interval between the first note E and B is seven semitones.
Examples of scales with minor chords
The following are examples of where the minor chord occurs in common heptatonic scales.
- On the first note (the tonic), fourth note (subdominant), and fifth note (dominant) of the minor scale (the Aeolian scale). That is, if a minor chord is composed over the first, fourth, or fifth note on the minor scale, then all notes on that chord will also be on the minor scale.
- On the second (the supertonic), third (median), and sixth note (submediant) of the major scale (the Ionian scale).
- On the first note (the tonic) and fourth note (subdominant) of the harmonic minor scale.
- On the first note (the tonic) and second note (supertonic) of the melodic ascending minor scale.
- On the second note (the supertonic) and third note (median) of the altered scale.
- On the fourth note (the subdominant) and seventh note (the leading tone) of the Spanish gypsy scale.
Examples of relationships between the minor chord and other three note chords
Shifting the second note of the minor chord one semitone up produces a major chord (i.e., switching from a minor third to a major third).
Shifting the third note of the minor chord one semitone down produces a diminished chord (i.e., switching from a perfect fifth to a diminished fifth).
Shifting the second note of the minor chord two semitones up or one semitone down produces a suspended chord (i.e., switching from a minor third to an augmented third or a diminished third).
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