Minor Triads in C

Minor Triads in C On Strings 123

This is a continuation of free lesson blogs:

Major Triads in C on strings 123
Major Triads in C on strings 234.

Reading the 3 above blogs first is only going to take about 4 minutes of your time, but will speed up your progress learning the following Am, Dm and Em triads.

Today we’ll cover the minor chords on strings 1 2 3 in the key of C
There are 3 minor chords in a major scale: on II, III and VI.
This means: the 2nd, 3rd and 6th chord in a major scale are minor chords. In the key of C, II, III and VI are: Dm, Em and Am

We can also think of these 3 chords in relationship to a minor scale.

When you start a C major scale from the note A, you get A B C D E F G. This scale is called an A minor scale.
We call this “relative scales” in music theory: different scales that have the same 7 notes.
When you look at the first, 4th and 5th note in the A minor scale, you notice they are A, D and E.

In the key of Am, the chords on I, IV and V are Am, Dm and Em.
I (Am), IV (Dm) and V (Em) in the key of Am, are VI (Am), II (Dm) and III (Em) in the key of C major.

Memorize that the minor chords in a major scale are on II, III and VI, but in this blog: we will think of these chords as I, IV and V in the key of A minor. We will later in this blog, cover how to practice these triads in an Am blues.

But first off, let’s tackle the Am chords on strings 123

am-triads

  1. The shape on frets 2/1/0 (2nd fret, 1st fret, open E string) is what you call “root position”. The notes from low to high are A C E (root, b3rd, 5th). Whenever you play that shape on these 3 strings, you play a minor chord with the root as the lowest note. Also play this shape up 12 frets on the frets 14/13/12
  2. The shape on frets 555 (5th fret, 5th fret, 5th fret) is what you call “1st inversion”. The notes from low to high are C E A (b3rd, 5th, root). Whenever you play that shape on these 3 strings, you play a minor chord with the b3rd as the lowest note.
  3. The shape on frets 9/10/8 (9th fret, 10th fret, 8th fret) is what you call “2nd inversion”. The notes from low to high are E A C (5th, root, b3rd). Whenever you play that shape on these 3 strings, you play a major chord with the 5th as the lowest note.

There is a trick to speed up your memorization of the location of the 3 shapes. The trick is to focus on the notes on the lowest of the 3 strings, in this case the G string. The notes you are looking for (for an Am chord) are A, C and E

  1. A is on the 2nd/14th fret of the G string
  2. C is on the 5th fret of the G string
  3. E is on the 9th fret on the G string

Focusing on these 3 notes on the G string only, helps you memorize the location of each Am shape.

The 2/1/0 (14/13/12) shape goes on the root A
The 5/5/5 shape goes on the b3rd C
The 9/10/8 shape goes on the 5th E

Play these 3 Am chord shapes up and down till you feel pretty confident you have them memorized.
Then move on to learning and memorizing the Dm shapes.
You’ll notice, it’s the same 3 shapes, just in different locations.

dm-triads

The notes in a Dm chord are D, F, A
These are the 3 notes you’re focusing on on the G string.
You play the root shape on D on the 7th fret
You play the first inversion (3rd in bass) shape on F on the 10th fret
You play the 2nd inversion (5th in bass) shape on A on the 2nd/14th fret

Once you get all the Dm chords memorized: go up the neck with Am chords and down the neck with Dm chords.
When you can do this pretty easily: learn the Em chords. (Notes: E G B)

em-triads

Em chords are easy if you know the Dm chords really well. The Em chords are the 3 Dm chords up 2 frets.

When you get the Em chords down, go up with Am chords and down with Em chords.

One you feel you get all Am, Dm and Em chords down pretty well on these 3 strings, you are ready for the next exercise.
Practice these chords over a 12-bar blues in Am

||: Am | Dm | Am | Am |
Dm | Dm | Am | Am |
Em | Dm | Am | Em :||

Here’s what you do:

In bar 1: play 2 different Am chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 2: play 2 different Dm chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 3: play 2 different Am chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 3: play 2 different Am chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 5: play 2 different Dm chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 6: play 2 different Dm chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
… and so on.

This is going to be challenging at first, but this is a good drill to really nail down these chords.
When you can do this exercise pretty well, start practicing it with a metronome.
Work it up to 145bpm.
When you can play this exercise at that tempo, you don’t have to think anymore: you really have your Am, Dm and Em triads memorized.

Hit me up anytime at [email protected] if you would like me to send you backing tracks of the above chord progression, if you have any questions, or if you would like to book a lesson.
You’re on your way to becoming a great guitar player.
Have fun! 🙂

Conclusion

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