Guitar Chord Theory - Understanding Minor Triads

In this article we'll continue our guitar theory adventures by looking at minor triads. Like major triads they are incredibly common in music, so it's definitely worth taking the time to understand them.

So let's do that. Here is a really convenient way of working out the notes of any minor triad…

  1. Write down the notes of the major scale that has the same root note as the minor triad that you want to work out. For Example: If you wanted to work out the notes of an A minor triad, you would write down the A major scale.
  2. Take the first, third and fifth notes from the major scale you wrote down.
  3. Lower the third by one half-step. The notes you end up with are the notes of the minor triad.

Like most things to do with music theory, it's always a great idea to look at some concrete examples…

A Few Examples

Example 1: The A Minor Triad [A C E]

Because we are wanting to work out an A minor chord, the first thing that we need to do is write down the notes of the A major scale…

A Major Scale

What we now have to do is remove all the notes except the 1, 3 and 5…

A Major Triad

The final step is to lower the third by one half-step. In this example that means we have to lower the C# to a C…

A Minor Triad

Let's now take a look at an A minor chord shape that you have probably learned at some point…

A Minor Chord Voicing

Although this chord shape uses five notes, I still call it a triad because there are only three different notes. (The A-note and E-note are repeated).

Side Note: Some musicians might disagree with calling this a triad. They would argue that because we are playing five notes then it's not a triad. I would say to them…who cares? The goal of learning music theory is not to become an incredibly pedantic douche about the details that don't really matter. My advice? Calling it either an A minor chord or an A minor triad is absolutely fine!

Let's now go through two more examples…

Example 2: The D Minor Triad [D F A]

The first step is to write out the D major scale…

D Major Scale

The next step is to remove all of the notes except the first, third and fifth…

D Major Triad

The last step is to lower the third by one half-step…

D Minor Triad

D Minor Triad

Example 3: The E Minor Triad [E G B]

Because we are wanting to work out the notes of an E minor triad, we need to write down the notes of the E major scale…

E Major Scale

Once we've done this, then the next step is to remove all the notes except the 1, 3, and 5…

E Major Triad

So what's the final step? Yep. You guessed it. We now need to lower the third by one half-step…

E Minor Triad

E Minor Chord Voicing

A Few Last Words

I hope you've enjoyed exploring minor triads a little bit. It would be a fantastic idea to work out the notes of some other minor chords that you might know. This will help you to become more comfortable with the theory that we've just looked at.

Have fun!


Return To: Guitar Arpeggios And Chords  
 
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