How to Find Chords for the Key of C Minor

Minor Key Chords

Let’s find all the chords for the key of C minor on the piano. We can use these chords to create chord progressions and play creatively in that key!

How to Find Chords for the Key of C Minor

To find the chords for the key of C minor, we’ll first need to build a C minor scale.

There are different types of minor scales, so we’ll start with a C natural minor scale.

Natural minor scales each have a relative major scale on the piano. This means these two scales use the same notes to build their scales, but start and end on different notes. Natural minor scales are built off the sixth note of their relative major scale.

C natural minor is relative to E flat major, since C is the sixth note in the E flat major scale. Since these two scales share the same notes, they also share the same chords, just in a different order.

Here are the notes for a C natural minor scale:

C – D – E♭ – F – G – A♭ – B♭ – C

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

Starting on C, we’ll build our first “1 – 3 – 5” chord, using the notes of the scale: C – E♭ – G

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

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

We can continue following this pattern, building a “1 – 3 – 5” chord, or triad, 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 the Key of C Minor

Here are the chords for the key of C minor:

C – E♭ – G = C minor chord

D – F – A♭ = D diminished chord

E♭ – G – B♭ = E♭ major chord

F – A♭ – C = F minor chord

G – B♭ – D = G minor chord

A♭ – C – E♭ = A♭ major chord

B♭ – D – F = B♭ major chord

How Do We Label the Chords?

You may be wondering how we know the difference between majorminor, and diminished chords. It all depends on the intervals used to build the chords (learn more about piano intervals here).

But to summarize, there are actually four types of “1 – 3 – 5” chords, or triads:

Major
Minor
Augmented
Diminished

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

Minor chords are built with the first, third and fifth notes of the matching major scale, but the middle note is lowered 1/2 step.

Augmented chords are built with the first, third and fifth notes of the matching major scale, but the third and fifth notes are raised 1/2 step.

Diminished chords are built with the first, third and fifth notes of the matching major scale, but the third and fifth notes are lowered 1/2 step.

When we build a “1 – 3 – 5” chord off each note of a natural minor scale, using only the notes of the scale to build the chords, we’ll always get these chord types in this order:

Minor
Diminished
Major
Minor
Minor
Major
Major

We can use this pattern to find the chords for other minor keys!

Primary Chords for C Minor

Each minor key has three primary chords built off the first, fourth and fifth notes of the scale. Primary chords are used frequently in songs.

The primary chords for the key of C minor are:

C minor
F minor
G minor

How to Find Chords for C Minor Using the Harmonic Minor Scale

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

Harmonic minor scales are similar to natural minor scales, except the seventh note is raised 1/2 step.

Here’s a C harmonic minor scale:

C – D – E♭ – F – G – A♭ – B – C

Now 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 as before.

Chords for C Minor Using the Harmonic Minor Scale

Here are the chords for C minor using the harmonic minor scale:

C – E♭ – G = C minor chord

D – F – A♭ = D diminished chord

E♭ – G – B = E♭ augmented chord

F – A♭ – C = F minor chord

G – B – D = G major chord

A♭ – C – E♭ = A♭ major chord

B – D – F = B diminished chord

Labeling the Chords

When we build a “1 – 3 – 5” chord off each note of a harmonic minor scale, we’ll always get these chord types in this order:

Minor
Diminished
Augmented
Minor
Major
Major
Diminished

Primary Chords for C Minor Using the Harmonic Minor Scale

The primary chords for C minor using the harmonic minor scale are:

C minor
F minor
G major

When we use the harmonic minor scale instead of the natural minor scale to build the chords, the third primary chord becomes major instead of minor, creating a nice contrast.

Other Minor Key Chords

Here are posts teaching the chords for other minor keys:

A Minor Chords
E Minor Chords
B Minor Chords
F Sharp Minor Chords
C Sharp Minor Chords
G Sharp Minor Chords
D Sharp Minor Chords
A Sharp Minor Chords
D Minor Chords
G Minor Chords
F Minor Chords
B Flat Minor Chords
E Flat Minor Chords
A Flat Minor Chords

Conclusion

Now you know how to find chords for the key of C minor, and you can use those chords to create chord progressions and play creatively in that key!

Learning chords and using them to play creatively at the piano is lots of fun, and is a wonderful way to enjoy and share music.

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