Using Minor chords in progressions


Minor chords in progression

using minor chords

There are misconceptions that minor chords are mysterious type of chords that pose a huge challenge to beginning musicians. I am here to blot that out of your mind if you have that believe.


Like other chords, minor chords are just basic triads and ofcourse they can be extended by adding several notes but this is not a unique case because other chord types can be extended as well.


We will discuss chord extensions later but for now let’s see how minor chords fit in easily with chord progressions.


Before we proceed you might want to re-read the article on chord types. There you will see formula’s for getting any basic chord easily including the minor triad.


However this lesson is to show you easy strategies in using the minor chord while playing.


Two ways of using the minor chords

I will use two terms here


  1. Compliment
  2. Substitute


These terms may not be used in music but except for the later SUBSTITUTE which is widely used.


However,we are borrowing those terms for easy explanation of the use of Minor chords.



We use minor chord to compliment major chords. Remember that the meaning of compliment is praising or exalting a thing.


In my experience, a lot of beginners get bored over time playing major chords because the sounds are just definite and too predictable. This was the same set of chords that got them excited when they were learning how to play the piano but right now it sucks. Lol


Now if you are in that category I will advise you to use minor chords to compliment those existing major chords rather than throwing them away.


What this does is creating an effect that makes your boring chords sounds interesting by merely playing minor chords before a major chord in the existing chord progression.


Let’s deflect a bit so as to explain this more better.


Take a look at it like going to CNN alone and paying to deliver a speech there. Yes! CNN gets over a million views daily but I will I get more attention as when the president of the united states accompanies me there? No


And with a compliment from the president everyone will start listening to what I have to say even if it originally SUCKS, people will take it seriously just because of the presence of the president.


This is the same approach we will be using when COMPLIMENTING major chords by using the influence of some appropriate minor chords.


Consider this two chord progressions below


Cmaj-Fmaj-Gmaj-Cmaj (all major chords)



Cmaj-Emin-Fmaj-Dmin-Gmaj-Cmaj (minor chords added to the above progression)



What can you say about both chord progressions?


Which do you like the most?


I will go for the 1st chord progression if I were you but I doubt that because I am a liar here. The second chord progression is just too charming with the presence of those few minor chords.


The principle of Compliments using minor chords is simple:


Appropriate minor chord —->>> Major chord



Here are some few minor-major chord compliments


Dminor – Gmajor (2-5)

Eminor – Fmajor (3-4)

Dminor – Fmajor (2-4)

Aminor – Gmajor (6-5)

Dminor-Cmajor (2-1)


In some cases, diminished triads can also compliment a major chord (we will see those in upcoming diminished chords usage lesson)


Example: Bdim -Cmajor


Don’t limit yourself,you can try some more even on different keys too.


In the next post we will deal with the substitute approach.


Stay tuned…

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