How to Play an E Minor 7th Piano Chord

The E minor 7 piano chord, also known as Em7, is versatile and widespread, ranging from American Pie to the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

Beautiful in its simple melancholy, the E minor 7 chord builds a seventh note off of a very strong, full-sounding chord. It’s a dash of color.

This is why great musicians like Elton John choose Em7 as an opening or transition chord in their progressions.

In this article, we’re going to discuss the best way to play the Em7 piano chord and how to use it.

The Notes of an E Minor 7 Piano Chord

Em7 consist of four notes: E, G, B, D. The initial E will be two keys to the right of the middle C.

That initial E will be our base note. Put a right thumb there, and extend outward. Two keys rightward is G, and from there two keys over is B.

With just those three notes, one plays the E minor chord. This is because the key of E minor is E – F# – G – A – B – C – D; in other words, F is the only note that needs to be sharp.

Now to form an E minor 7, put a finger on the seventh (D), two keys to the right of B. This will color an “accent” on the chord.

Long fingers can play the chord with the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. The rest of us use our pinky finger to hit that seventh note. (Hand span does make a difference.) [1]

Alternatively, you can play with your left hand. You’ll need to play the root (E) with your little finger, and extend to the right starting with your middle finger.

This is the essential Em7 chord, which we call the root position.

Inverting an E Minor 7 Piano Chord

Inversions provide variation. Big names use them to move along the bass line in pop songs, or just to keep the tempo going when holding the same chord. [2]

Here are the three inversions of the Em7 chord. They simply rotate the next note to the front and push the initial note to the back.

Em7, first inversion: G – B – D – E

To play 1st inversion, start two keys down from E (G), and make way up the scale until you reach E. It’s the same pattern as before, but the D and E are only one key apart.

Em7, second inversion: B – D – E – G

This chord has the same concept, except the B shifts to the front. D and E are still one key apart.

Em7, third inversion: D – E – G – B

The Bigger Picture

Note that all minor seventh chords follow the same pattern of 1 – 3b – 5 – 7b. Provided you know the formulas, you can build any chord by knowing the root note and its respective key. This is the same pattern we followed for E minor, with the notes of E – G – B – D. We also wrote an article for e7 chord, might want to check it out.

Still struggling to play like Elton John? Want to master the E minor 7 piano chord quicker? Start with the basic chord patterns and keys, then practice the songs you love. And make sure you pick the right instrument from the right brand while you’re at it!

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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