An Introduction to the F Sharp Minor Chord
Why is Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” happy and Chopin’s “Funeral March” sad?
The science of music causes our brains to choose an emotion based off the key of a song. Our brains automatically assume songs in a major key are happy while songs in a minor key are sad.
Being able to play major and minor chords will help you add a variety of feelings to your music. Here we will explore what the F sharp minor chord is and why it’s so important to learn.
Identifying Minor Chords
In music, a minor chord will have a symbol “m” next to it. Minor scales will also be notated with a lowercase m. Other musical notations may show a minor chord with a “min” or “-” symbol.
When you know how to play a major chord the minor version will be easy to learn.
Key of F Sharp Minor
You can hear the unique tonality of the key by Norbert Burgmuller in his Piano Concerto in F sharp minor, Op.1 from the 1800’s. However, you don’t have to learn pieces in the key of F sharp minor to appreciate the chord structure.
The F# minor chord appears in the following keys:
- A maj
- B min
- D maj
- E maj
Next, we will look at a brief overview of the theory behind minor chords.
Theory of F Sharp Minor Chords
Minor chords are the second most popular chords next to major ones. Not only are minor chords common, but they’re also very easy to learn. Before you start to practice minor chords, build your foundation with major ones.
Once you feel comfortable playing the major versions of chords you can learn the minors. The F# minor chord is a triad. A triad consists of three different notes, you play simultaneously.
Every triad will have a:
- Minor Third
- Perfect Fifth
You create a minor chord by combining a minor third and major third interval. When you understand the theory behind minor chords you can build them in any key.
Build with Semitones
One way to structure your chord is to use semitones or half steps.
A half step is the next closest key, it’s also the smallest interval in Western Classical music. Usually, the chord’s name will tell you the root note’s name as well.
For this example, we’re learning the F# minor chord, so your root note is F#. After you identify your root note, you’ll want to move three half steps higher. Without skipping any keys, you’ll count each move as one-half step.
The note that’s three half steps higher will be your second note. Finally, find the third note by adding seven half steps to the root note. You can also find the third note by counting four half steps up from the second note.
Pick whatever method resonates best with you.
Build Minor Triad Formula (Root note plus 3 half steps plus 4 half steps):
- R + 3HS + 4HS
Write down the formula above and try to create minor chords in different keys.
Intervals of Minor Chords
Another way to think of minor triads is in intervals — a minor third interval with a major third interval on top.
Start by placing your hand in any major chord position. Next, move your middle note down one-half step. You just created the minor variation of a major chord.
The F# major chord is played using the notes F#, A#, and C#.
F Sharp Major Chord
Using what you just learned about intervals, find the minor variation of F# major. Remember, you have to lower your middle finger down one-half step. What’s one half step down from A#?
If you said A, you’re right! An F#m chord is made up of F#, A, and C#.
F Sharp Minor Chord
From F# to A you have a minor third interval and from A to C# you have a major third interval.
In music, when you go down a half step you are “flat” and when you go up you are “sharp”. In this chord, A is considered to be a flat minor.
How to Create Inversions
Moving on, you can start to play with the inversions of the chord structure. When you know how to invert chords you can create different sounds with the same notes.
The word “inversion” means to rearrange by altering the direction of the pitch. Every chord has a root note, an inversion rearranges the notes order from the root.
Root, 1st and 2nd Inversions
Inversions are easy, you start by moving the root note to the next octave up.
To create the first inversion move F# one octave up to the next F# key. Now your fingers will be placed on A, C#, and F#.
F# is still the root note of the F#m chord, but it’s in a different position. Next, you can create the second inversion by only moving A to the next highest octave.
You can apply the theory of inversions to any chord, major, minor, diminished or augmented. The more frequently you use inversions, the easier the transitions will become.
Next, you’ll want to make sure you understand the technique used to play an F#m chord. Accurate finger placement is vital to being able to transition between chords. Remember, each finger has an individual number.
The numbers are the same no matter what hand you are using. Before you practice the finger placement for the F# triad, warm up your hands.
Practice counting each finger out loud on each hand separately. Then practice moving the fingers and counting out loud with both hands.
Once you’re warmed up, put your fingers in root position on the piano. Use the 1st finger to play the F#, the 2nd finger to play the A, and the 4th finger to play the C#.
- F# (1st finger)
- A (2nd finger)
- C# (4th finger)
- A (1st finger)
- C# (2nd finger)
- F# (4th finger)
- C# (1st finger)
- F# (3rd finger)
- A (5th finger)
One way to practice the finger placement is by playing each note separately. Name the note out loud as you place the correct finger on the key. Go slow when you’re learning — speed will come naturally with practice.
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