A Basic Introduction to the Minor Chord Experience

E Minor Chord Diagram

Read Time 2 Minutes

Welcome Back for Another Chord Lesson from Guitar-Muse.

So far in this series, we’ve covered:

What chords are, and why we use them
How to read chord diagrams
Five major chords: C, A, G, E, and D
A few basic chord progressions using those chords

If you’ve mastered all of the above, you’re prepared for this lesson. If you have any doubts about the above, just go back and review the lessons we’ve linked to at the bottom. We’ll wait. 😉

A Word of Encouragement

If you’ve gotten this far, it means you’ve stuck with it despite the learning curve so far. Some people turn back as soon as they feel discomfort in their fingertips and they flee, never to return. Glad you didn’t.

By the way, have your fingers begun to toughen yet? They’ll be raw for the first few days or weeks. Just keep practicing—the pads of your fingers will gradually begin to harden, and before you know it you’ll be able to play for an hour without any pain. Meanwhile, keep slugging! And while you’re starting out, don’t play right after you’ve washed the dishes or taken a shower because if you do those strings will bite your warm, pruny, sensitive little fingers until you weep and I’m speaking from experience here, you guys.

Oh, and a bit of reassurance: in the beginning it’s also normal to feel a bit awkward when changing chords, especially if it’s been a day since you last practiced. Be patient. Train your hands like dogs and very soon they will speak, beg, and roll over just the way you want them to.

In this lesson, we’ll cover:

  • Three new chords: Dm, Am, and Em
  • Some basic chord progressions using these new chords
  • Some new strumming patterns

What are Minor Chords?

Here you’ll find chord diagrams for three new chords: D minor, A minor, and E minor.
So far in these lessons we’ve learned major chords, which tend to have a bright, upbeat sound. You’ll notice that the minor chords below have a somewhat darker, moodier sound–I think you’ll find them intriguing.

Click to enlarge:

Minor chord names are written in several different ways—the most common are a letter followed by “m” or “min”. These two abbreviations are interchangeable; use whichever one you like most.

Here are some chord progressions to try—they mix major and minor chords to create sounds that I think you’ll really like. Repeat the first one several times in a seamless loop, so the D is followed by G all over again… then move on and do the same with the second progression.
G → Emin → Amin → D
C → Amin → Dmin → G
Again, arranging and rearranging your fingers while changing chords will be a slow process at first—go as slowly as you need to and focus on accuracy instead of speed. Work on it every day, and soon your fingers will find the right places quickly and easily with very little effort.
The next few lessons will teach you more new chords and show you some strumming rhythms to set them in motion.

More From This Chord Series:

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Nicholas Tozier

Nicholas Tozier is a book hoarder and songbird from the woods of Maine. In 2012 he made a small cameo in Songwriting Without Boundaries by Berklee professor Pat Pattison, and was named one of CDBaby’s top 10 Songwriting Resources to follow on Twitter.

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