This lesson follows on from the Chords In The Major Key lesson by demonstrating the chords of the minor key built from both the Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor Scales.

Chords In A Minor Key

This lesson will follow the same concept as the previous lesson but will focus on building chords in a minor key. If you find anything too advanced then I would recommend working your way back through the previous lessons or asking a question in the comments below.

There are two minor scales that can be used to generate chords in a minor key and we will look at both of them in this lesson. They are the harmonic minor scale and the melodic minor scale.

The Harmonic Minor Scale

The harmonic minor scale is made up of the major 2nd, minor 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, minor 6th and major 7th.

1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7

If we build triads on each scale degree using the notes in the C harmonic minor scale we get the following chords:

Chord I – Minor
Chord II – Diminished
Chord III – Augmented
Chord IV – Minor
Chord V – Major
Chord VI – Major
Chord VII – Diminished

In the key of C:

Chord I – C Minor – C Eb G 
Chord II – D Diminished – D F Ab
Chord III – Eb Augmented – Eb G B 
Chord IV – F Minor – F Ab C
Chord V – G Major – G B D 
Chord VI – Ab Major – Ab C Eb 
Chord VII – B Diminished – B D F 

Harmonic Minor Chords Exercise

Practice these arpeggios by playing them in order using the notation below for reference.

We can put these chords together to form a progression similar to what we did with the major key chords. Here are three examples:

Minor I-I-II-V 

Minor I-I-VI-V 

Minor I-III-IV-V

Building 7th Chords

As with the major key, we can also extend the chords in the harmonic minor key to include 7ths. To do this, we simply count up two notes from the 5th degree of the scale to find the 7th. Here are the 7th chords in the harmonic minor key:

Chord I – Minor (Major 7)
Chord II – Minor 7b5
Chord III – Major 7#5
Chord IV – Minor 7
Chord V – Dominant 7
Chord VI – Major 7
Chord VII – Diminished 7

In the C harmonic minor scale this would be:

Chord I – C Minor (Major 7) – C Eb G B
Chord II – D Minor 7b5 – D F Ab C
Chord III – Eb Major 7#5 – Eb G B D
Chord IV – F Minor 7 – F Ab C Eb
Chord V – G Dominant 7 – G B D F
Chord VI – Ab Major 7 – Ab C Eb G
Chord VII – Bb Diminished 7 – B D F Ab

Let’s try the arpeggio exercise and chord progressions from earlier again with the added 7ths.

Minor I-I-II-V 

Minor I-I-VI-V 

Minor I-III-IV-V

The Melodic Minor Scale

We will use the ascending version of this scale to build chords. This is also called the jazz minor scale and uses the degrees:

1 2 b3 4 5 6 7 

If we build triads from these scale degrees we get:

Chord I – Minor
Chord II – Minor
Chord III – Augmented
Chord IV – Major
Chord V – Major
Chord VI – Diminished
Chord VII – Diminished

In the key of C:

Chord I – C Minor
Chord II – D Minor
Chord III – Eb Augmented
Chord IV – F Major
Chord V – G Major
Chord VI – A Diminished
Chord VII – B Diminished

Once again, let’s run through these chords in order and within a sequence.

Minor I-I-II-V 

Minor I-I-VI-V 

Minor I- I -IV-V

We can also extend the basic triads to get 7th chords just like we did in the previous keys. If we do this using the melodic minor scale we get the following:

Chord I – Minor (Major 7)
Chord II – Minor 7
Chord III – Major 7#5
Chord IV – Dominant 7
Chord V – Dominant 7
Chord VI – Minor 7b5
Chord VII – Minor 7b5

In the key of C:

Chord I – C Minor (Major 7)
Chord II – D Minor 7
Chord III – Eb Major 7#5
Chord IV – F Dominant 7
Chord V – G Dominant 7
Chord VI – A Minor 7b5
Chord VII – B Minor 7b5

In the same sequences:

Minor I-I-II-V 

Minor I-I-VI-V 

Minor I-I-VI-V 

 

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