An Introduction to Chords in the Key of C Sharp Minor

If you’ve heard Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, and chances are you have, you’ve heard C Sharp Minor chords in action.

Maybe, you’re not a fan of classical music and big hair? Then you can listen to Lady Gaga’s “Let’s Dance” for another tasty spoonful.

From the Classical Era to electronic dance pop, C sharp minor chords have made a lasting impression on us.

Keep reading to find out what the building blocks are.

Notes in the Key of C Sharp Minor

There are only 12 notes.

In hundreds of years of music making, every composer has used these twelve notes to create masterpieces.

They are: A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#

The chords of the key of C sharp (C#) minor are built on the C#minor scale. The scale follows a formula of whole-steps and half-steps.

Root, whole-step, half-step, whole-step, whole-step, half-step, whole-step

Here’s what the notes look like:

C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A, B

Chords by Key

Like the major scale, the minor scale follows a chord formula:

Minor, Diminished, Major, Minor, Minor, Major, Major

C#minor, D#diminished, EMajor, F#minor, G#minor, A Major, B Major

You will commonly see minor chords notated with a lowercase “m”, a minus sign “-“, or an abbreviation.

For example C#m, C#-, C#min

Major chords will usually have the standalone chord note or abbreviated “Major”.

For example: E or EMaj

Chords are built using intervals of the scale. These intervals explain the relationship a note has to another in the scale.

Triads

Triads are the most common chords you will common across. By using the Root, the third, and the fifth notes of a scale, you can build a three-note harmony. This where the word “triad” comes from.

If you whip out your trusty piano keyboard app, you can follow the C# minor scale with your finger. Starting at C# you can find your other notes on every other key. E falls on a white key, while C# and G# are black keys.

Here are the chords of the C#minor scale:

  • I. C#m
  • II. Diminished. D# diminished
  • III. E
  • IV. F#m
  • V. G# m
  • VI. A
  • VII. B

This is how you’d spell it out:

  • I. C#, E, G#
  • II. dim. D#, F#, A
  • III. E, G#, B
  • IV. F#, A, C#
  • V. G#, B, D#
  • VI. A, C#, E
  • VII. B, D#, F#

7th Chords

Another common chord you’ll find is the 7th chord. The seventh note is an interval of a third above the fifth of the scale. These notes are common in blues and jazz.

Check it out:

  • I. C#m: C#, E, G#, B
  • II. minor7flat5. D#m7b5: D#, F#, A, C#
  • III. E: E, G#, B, D#
  • IV. F#m: F#, A, C#, E
  • V. G# m: G#, B, D#, F#
  • VI. A: A, C#, E, G#
  • VII. B: B, D#, F#, A

Extensions

Common extensions you will come across are the 9th and the 13th. They are called extensions because they extend into the next octave of a scale. They are the same as the 2nd and 6th notes, respectively.

9th: C#m9: C#, E, G#, B, D#

13th: C#m13: C#, E, G#, B, A

These notes can cause a little confusion around notation circles. This is because when you see a 13th or a 9th written, you should assume the 7th is included.

Notice it is included in the chord above.

But sometimes it can be written in the manner above when it is really meant as an add9 or add13. This means that it is a simple triad with the extension added to the end.

Learn the Chords

Beethoven kept playing beyond the c sharp minor even as he slowly went deaf. The muscle memory he built up over his years of playing allowed him to keep playing the right notes.

So if you get discouraged on your musical journey, remember that it can’t get any harder than being a deaf musician.

Check out our guides for the tools to become your best musical self.

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