An Introduction to the F Minor Chord

Understanding chords are essential to learning music theory: these triads form the basis of a composition and affect how a piece of music sounds.

This article will teach you basic music theory about chords, and how to play the F minor chord on the piano. And don’t forget to try out the E minor chord and G minor chord.

What Does Music in F Minor Sound Like?

The key of F minor was as popular with classical composers as it is with today’s songwriters. It has a dark sense about it, without being as dour as some other minor keys.

Classic compositions in the key of F minor include The Four Seasons – Winter by Vivaldi, Piano Sonata No. 1 by Beethoven, and Fantasia in F Minor by Franz Schubert [1].

To hear the key in modern songs, you could listen to Telephone by Lady Gaga, Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day, or Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana.

How to Find the F Minor Chord from the Scale

The scale of F minor has eight notes, including four incidentals. An incidental is a sharp or a flat, shown at the start of every music stave on sheet music. It means that each time you read a note that has an incidental, you need to step it up or down half a tone.

The F minor scale has eight notes [2]:

F, G, A-flat, B-flat, C, D-flat, E-flat, and octave F

The root chord uses a triad of the first, third, and fifth notes. That means you will play F, A-flat, and C.

How to Play the F Minor Root Chord

The root chord is the basic chord in F minor. There are other chord variations, but let’s start with the simple root triad [3].

Your Finger Numbers

To learn piano it is best to imagine that your fingers on each hand are numbered. This makes it easy to learn where to put each finger to play a chord or scale.

Numbers go from left-to-right in this order:

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

That means on your left hand, your little finger is 5, ring finger is 4, middle finger is 3, index is 2, and your thumb is 1.

On your right hand, your fingers are numbered starting from the thumb. So, your thumb is 1, index finger 2, middle finger is 3, ring finger is 4, and finally, your little finger is 5.

Finger Placement: Right Hand

To play the root chord with your right hand, first, locate the F key. This is the white key that sits just before the group of three black keys.

Place your thumb – finger 1 – onto the F key.

Next, find A-flat. Count up one white key (G), then put finger 3 onto the next black key. This key is known both as G# and A-flat.

Complete the triad with finger 5. The key you need to find is C. To do this, skip the next two white keys after the A-flat and put finger 5 on the third white key along. This is the C key: you’ve now played the F minor chord!

Finger Placement: Left Hand

To play the root chord with your left hand, use the same keys as above but in reverse finger order.

So, finger 5 is on F, finger 3 goes on A-flat, and finger 1 finishes the chord on C.

How to Play F Minor Inversions

A chord inversion is where the same notes of the root chord are played in a different order.

This gives the chord a different feel. For example, the first inversion uses the octave F instead of the root F. This can lift the chord and make a more natural progression into higher octaves for other chords or a melody.

The inversion chords are played with slightly different finger patterns to help with the different spacing between the keys.

Inversion One

The first inversion puts notes in the order of A-flat, C, and F.

To play this inversion with your right hand, place finger 1 on the A key, finger 2 on C, and finish the chord with finger 5 on the next F key.

To play with your left hand, start with finger 5 on the A, then finger 3 on the C, and finish with finger 1 (your thumb) on the F key.

Inversion Two

The second common chord inversion for F minor uses the order of C, F, A-flat.

On the right hand, that means finger 1 starts on C. Then finger 3 goes on to F, and the ring finger (finger 4) is placed on the A-flat key.

To play this inversion with your left hand, start with finger 5 on the C key. Finger 2 (index finger) is next, on the F key, and you finish with finger 1 on A-flat.

What Is F Minor Chord ii?

There is a second chord in F minor that doesn’t use any notes of the root triad but is still an F minor chord.

This secondary chord in the scale is useful to know when you start to learn about music theory in more depth. The ii chord in a scale is used when composing music, and learning it will help you to introduce more complex practice drills as you progress.

The chord ii uses the notes G, B-flat, and D-flat.

To play the chord, use the same finger placement as you learned in the root chord. That’s fingers 1, 3, and 5 on the right hand, and fingers 5, 3, and 1 on the left.

Start with the G key to find the root of chord ii. The B-flat key is the last black key in the group of three black keys, while the D-flat key is the first black key in the group of two.

To carry on the chord, the next two fingers (3 and 5 on the right hand, 3 and 1 on the left), go on the B-flat key and the D-flat key in that order.

More Chords in F Minor

Just like the F Minor Chord ii, there are many more chords in the key of F minor that you can learn.

F Minor Seventh

This chord has four keys: F, A-flat, C, and E-flat. You’ll need to use your ring finger on your right hand, or your index finger on your left, to play the C key. This means you can use the last finger to complete the fourth note in the chord.

G Diminished and G Minor Seventh Flat Five

The other chords in the F minor scale are derived from relative minor and major scales. This means they are like the F minor chord ii above: the notes used aren’t always in the root chord.

The G diminished chord is the same as the F minor chord ii above. The G minor seventh adds an extra note, so you need to play an extra F as the fourth note at the end of the chord.

A-flat Major Chords in F Minor

There are two A-flat major chords in this key. A-flat major uses A-flat, C, and E-flat.

Add a fourth note of G to find the A-flat major seventh: A-flat, C, E-flat, G.

B-Flat Minor Chords

Find the B-flat minor chord in this key by using the notes B-flat, D-flat, and F.

You can use the minor seventh, too: add an A-flat after the F to create the four-note B-flat minor seventh.

C Minor Chords

The C minor chord in the key of F minor uses the notes C, E-flat, and G. You play these using the same finger pattern as the root chord.

The second C minor chord is the diminished seventh: add a B-flat to the top end of the chord for this variation.

D-Flat Major and D-flat Major Seventh

A related major key, you can use the notes of D-flat, F, and A-flat to play the D-flat major chord.

If you add a C note at the top of the chord, this is the D-major seventh.

E-Flat Major and Dominant Seventh Chords

Another major chord in the minor key, the E-flat major chord uses the notes E-flat, G, and B-flat.

Play this chord and add a D-flat at the top of the chord to create the E-flat dominant seventh chord.

Practice Tip: Play a Two-Octave Arpeggio

To practice playing the F minor chord in different ways, try playing each note in the triad individually across two octaves. This is called an arpeggio.

Remember, the finger pattern is always the same across octaves. For example, on the right hand, you would play 1- F, 3- A-flat, 5- C, and repeat again for the next octave. Finish the arpeggio with a final octave F.


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