How to Find Piano Chords for Minor Keys

Chords for Minor Keys

Let’s look at how to find piano chords for minor keys. Learning to identify the chords belonging to a particular key will help you play creatively at the piano!

Keys

“Keys” are groups of notes used to write songs. Songs written in the “key of A minor” used the notes of the A minor scale to write the melody of the song.

If we build a chord off each note of a minor scale, using the notes of the scale to build the chords, we can find all the chords in that key.

How to Find Chords for Minor Keys

Let’s find chords for the key of A minor.

There are several different types of minor scales: natural, harmonic and melodic. Let’s find chords using the natural minor scale first, then we’ll find chords using the harmonic minor scale.

Here’s an A natural minor scale (learn how to build a minor scale here):

A – B – C – D – E – F – G – A

To find the chords, we’ll build a “1 – 3 – 5” chord off each note of the scale, using only the notes of the scale to build the chords.

Starting on A, we’ll build a “1 – 3 – 5” chord using the notes of the scale: A – C – E

Then we’ll start on B and build another “1 – 3 – 5” chord, using the notes of the scale: B – D – F

Then we’ll start on C and build another “1 – 3 – 5” chord, using the notes of the scale: C – E – G

We can continue following this pattern, building a “1 – 3 – 5” chord off each note of the scale, and using only the notes of the scale to build the chords.

chords for minor keys piano chord charts pdf

Chords for Minor Keys Printable

Learn the chords for each minor key with this 39-page PDF! Chords are built with both the natural minor and harmonic minor scales.

Chords for A Minor

Here are the chords:

A – C – E = A minor chord

B – D – F = B diminished chord

C – E – G = C major chord

D – F – A = D minor chord

E – G – B = E minor chord

F – A – C = F major chord

G – B – D = G major chord

How to Label the Chords

The chords we built were either major, minor or diminished, and you may be wondering how we can tell the difference.

“1 – 3 – 5” chords are called “triads”, and there are actually four types: major, minor, augmented or diminished.

Major chords are built off the first, third and fifth notes of the matching major scale.

Minor chords are major chords with the middle note lowered 1/2 step.

Augmented chords are major chords with the upper-note raised 1/2 step.

Diminished chords are minor chords with the upper note lowered 1/2 step.

When we build a chord off each note of the natural minor scale, we’ll always build these chord types in this order:

Minor
Diminished
Major
Minor
Minor
Major
Major

We can use this pattern to find the chords for any other natural minor scale!

How to Find Chords for Harmonic Minor Scales

Now let’s find the chords for the harmonic minor scale.

Here’s an A harmonic minor scale (learn how to build a harmonic minor scale here):

A – B – C – D – E – F – G – A

We’ll follow the same pattern, building a “1 – 3 – 5” chord off each note of the scale:

Starting on A, we’ll build a “1 – 3 – 5” chord, using the notes of the scale: A – C – E

Then we’ll start on B, and we’ll build another “1 – 3 – 5” chord, using only the notes of the scale: B – D – F

We’ll build another “1 – 3 – 5” chord starting on C, and using only the notes of the scale: C – E – G♯

We can continue following this pattern, building a “1 – 3 – 5” chord off each note of the scale, and using only the notes of the scale to build the chords.

Chords for the A Harmonic Minor Scale

Here’s what we come up with, using that pattern:

chords for a harmonic minor

A – C – E = A minor chord

B – D – F = B diminished chord

C – E – G♯ = C augmented chord

D – F – A = D minor chord

E – G♯ – B = E major chord

F – A – C = F major chord

G♯ – B – D = G diminished chord

Chord Types for Harmonic Minor Scales

When we build a chord off each note of a harmonic minor scale, using the notes of the scale to build the chords, we’ll always get these chord types in this order:

Minor
Diminished
Augmented
Minor
Major
Major
Diminished

We can use this pattern to find chords for any harmonic minor scale!

You’ll notice the chord types are different between A natural minor and A harmonic minor, because the seventh note of the scales is different. Changing that note affects several chords, so the types we build will be different depending on which scale we use.

Conclusion

Now you know how to find chords for minor keys, and you can apply that knowledge to any minor key. Using patterns to learn the piano is a wonderful way to enjoy this instrument!

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8 Comments

  1. M.R.E.

    Hi Julie very helpful ways of teaching major and minor chords.

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      I’m so glad it’s helpful!

  2. B. SHAKUNTALA BALIGA

    Thank you, Julie. I do find your weekly “classes” very informative. Regards, Shakuntala

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      You’re welcome, I’m glad it’s helpful!

    • RUBAB Sakina

      THE MOST RESPECTED MAM,
      YOURS WAY OF EDUCATION,SO NATURAL, AND AN EXACT WAY TEACHING DEEPLY BUT IN THE SIMPLEST WAY.
      WONDERFUL!
      YOU, TEACHER! GOD GIFTED POWER OF EDUCATING TO STUDENTS.
      I AM VERY VERY SATISFIED WITH YOURS, YES!, YOURS TEACHING.
      I AM VERY MUCH GLAD TO BE YOURS STUDENT.
      THANKS MOST.

    • Julie Swihart

      What an encouraging message, thank you so much! I appreciate it and I’m so glad this is helpful!

  3. Kostas

    Thanks.You are the best.

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      You’re welcome, I’m glad it’s helpful!

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