An Introduction to the C Minor Chord

Chords are what make music, well, music. Without them, you only have single notes strung together to make a melody.

You can still play a beautiful song with just the melody notes, of course. But a resounding chord is what fills it in and makes a simple melody into a vivacious song.

Thus, as you are studying music, learning to make chords is a very important piece of the puzzle. There are lots of chords to choose from. Today we’re going to look at the C minor chord. Take a look also the A minor chord and D minor chord.

In order to play the C minor chord, you’ll need to know the notes that make up the chord. You’ll need to know where to find them on a keyboard. And you should know when it is appropriate to use.

Let’s get started!

C Minor Chord: The Basics

The first thing you need to know about the C minor chord is what notes you must play to create it. The easiest way to understand where these notes come from is to take a look at the C minor natural scale.

You may already be aware that there are 3 types of minor scales [1]. There are the natural, the harmonic, and the melodic. These variants are created by modifying the 6th and 7th pitches, depending, to create a slightly different mood to the music.

For the purposes of building a C minor chord, you only need to worry about the natural scale. This scale is comprised of 7 notes, as are all scales.

Unsurprisingly, the scale begins on C. These are the notes of the C minor scale-C, D, Eb, F, Gb, Ab, and Bb. Remember that you flat note by lowering the pitch of a given note by a half step.

The C minor chord is made by taking the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes from the C minor scale. Thus, the chord is comprised of C, Eb, and Gb.

You can also create a slightly different sound by adding a 4th note to the chord. This is called the C minor seventh chord and is created by adding the 7th note on top of the basic 3. In this case, the 7th note is Bb.

Where on the Keyboard Is The C Minor Chord?

Now that you know which notes to play, you need to know where to find them on a keyboard.

You’re probably already familiar with the keys on a keyboard. The white keys come grouped in 3 and 4 and C is the leftmost white key in the group of 3.

The rest of the white keys continue in alphabetical order until you get to C again. The black keys provide sharps and flats between each note.

The c minor chord is easy to find. You need C, Eb, and Gb. We’ve already pointed out C. E is two white keys to the right, then step down onto the black key to flat it. G is two more white keys to the right, also with a step down onto the black key.

The C Minor Seventh

To create the C minor seventh chord that we mentioned earlier you need to simply add a Bb. B is one white key to the left of C and then step down onto the black key to flat it.

Inversions

To add variety to the sound of the music, composers use inversions. This simply means to rearrange the order of the notes in the chord. You still play the same notes but with different intervals (number of half steps) between them, the sound changes slightly.

For example, instead of playing C, Eb, Gb you can start on Eb and play Eb, Gb, and C. This is the 1st inversion. You can also create The 2nd inversion by starting on Gb and playing Gb, C, and Eb.

Mix it up even further by using both hands. Try playing an octave on C in the bass with an Eb and Gb in the right hand. Or you can play a normal c minor chord in the bass and top it off with C and Gb in the right.

Experiment with different positions and listen to how the sound changes. It’s fascinating what you can do with the same 3 notes!

Keep in mind you can do the same thing with the c minor seventh chord to create even more diversity.

When to Use C Minor Chords

C minor chords convey the feeling of love, but not in the most joyous sense [2]. It’s more like a sense of lovesickness or unhappy sighing.

There is a hint of longing in the sound, almost like a lament. Minor chords, in general, don’t sound bright and happy but this is one of the more mild chords. Others can be quite melancholic and downright depressing.

Thus, you’ll find that composers use the C minor chord to express more mild laments through their music. As you develop your ear and master your instrument, you’ll be able to create original pieces of music to express your own lovesick lament with c minor.

Famous Works Using C Minor

Many famous classical pieces were written using C minor chords. Here are a few:

  • Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2
  • Bach’s Come Sweet Death
  • Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111
  • Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 13, No. 8 Pathetique

And the list goes on. Rest assured, many of the great composers have created beautiful pieces of music with c minor chords. You can too!

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Now you know how to build the C minor chord and where to find it. Now there’s nothing to stop you from using it.

Put what you’ve learned into practice and find the notes for the c minor chord on your chosen instrument. Now, play it a hundred times-or at least until you can do it somewhat naturally.

Once you start creating your own musical works, the C minor chord will come in handy. You can express unique emotions with it and bring that beauty out from the depth of your soul!

Stephanie Su
 

Started learning music when she was four years old, Stephanie is a music teacher and a music therapist who is highly proficient in Piano, Violin, Guitar, and Ukulele. She likes to learn, teach, and share her music playing experiences.

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