How to Find Chords for the Key of E Minor

Minor Key Chords

Let’s find chords for the key of E minor on the piano. Once we identify the chords for a particular key, we can use those chords to create chord progressions and play creatively in that key!

How to Find Chords for the Key of E Minor

Before we find the chords for E minor, we’ll need to build an E minor scale.

There are different types of minor scales, so let’s start with an E 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.

E natural minor is relative to G major, so these two scales use the same notes, but E natural minor starts and ends on E, and G major starts and ends on G. Since these two scales use the same notes to build their scales, their chords will be the same.

Here are the notes for E natural minor:

E – F♯ – G – A – B – C – D – E

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.

We’ll start on E, and count “1 – 3 – 5” using the notes of the scale to build our first chord. When we do, we get: E – G – B

Then we’ll start on F♯ and build another “1 – 3 – 5” chord, using only the notes of the scale. When we do, we get: F♯ – A – C

Next we’ll start on G, and build another “1 – 3 – 5” chord, using the notes of the scale. When we do, we get: G – B – D

We can continue following this pattern, building a “1 – 3 – 5” chord (also called a “triad”) off each note of the scale, using 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 E Minor

Here are the chords for the key of E minor:

E – G – B = E minor chord

F♯ – A – C = F♯ diminished chord

G – B – D = G major chord

A – C – E = A minor chord

B – D – F♯ = B minor chord

C – E – G = C major chord

D – F♯ – A = D major chord

How Do We Label the Chords?

You may be wondering how we know the difference beteween a major, minor or diminished chord? It all depends on the intervals used to build the chords (learn about 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 using the first, third and fifth notes of the matching major scale.

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

Augmented chords are built using 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 using 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 the 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

There are three chords in each key that are considered “primary”. These chords are used often in chord progressions, and they’re built off the first, fourth and fifth notes of the matching scale.

The primary chords for E minor are:

E minor
A minor
B minor

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

Now let’s look at how to build chords for E minor, using the E harmonic minor scale.

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

Here are the notes for an E harmonic minor scale:

E – F♯ – G – A – B – C – D♯ – E

Next we’ll build a “1 – 3 – 5” chord off each note of the harmonic minor scale, using only the notes of the scale to build the chords, as before.

Chords for E Minor Using the Harmonic Minor Scale

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

E – G – B = E minor chord

F♯ – A – C = F♯ diminished chord

G – B – D♯ = G augmented chord

A – C – E = A minor chord

B – D♯ – F♯ = B major chord

C – E – G = C major chord

D♯ – F♯ – A = D♯ diminished chord

Labeling the Chords

When we build a “1 – 3 – 5” chord off each note of the harmonic 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
Augmented
Minor
Major
Major
Diminished

Primary Chords for E Minor Using the Harmonic Minor Scale

The primary chords for E minor, using the harmonic minor scale are:

E minor
A minor
B 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. This change can add some nice contrast to the music.

Other Minor Key Chords

Here are posts teaching the chords for other minor keys:

A 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
C 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 E minor, and you can use these chords to create chord progressions in that key!

Minor keys are really enjoyable to use and work really well for expressing more reflective and introspective moods at the piano.

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