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Old 04-28-2013, 09:10 PM   #1
MissingSomethin
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20 years and I never use minor chords. Incorporating them into one's playing???

This may sound really stupid, but the reality is that I've gone 20 years and never really used minor chords as part of my basic chord vocabulary. Can anyone relate to this? I've done power chords, triads, inversions, etc. I've even used minor7th chords, but, I have never instinctively gravitated towards using minor chords while jamming. It's the most basic chord type after learning major chords, but somehow it passed me by, and always felt forced. Like, "Here is a minor chord. See how it sounds 'sad'"? Or, forcing the use when learning major scale harmonization I ii iii IV V iv vii(dim)....of which I've also never really used to make a progression that sounded catchy.

I know both E and A based barre chord minor shapes. I understand that minor is -3 instead of 3. Bottom line is that I only ever used minor chords when they were part of tablature I was learning.

Green Day's "When I Come Around" does G D Em C
Here is one example of using minor chord NOT for the blatant "sad" sound.
It just fits right in perfectly, and sounds wrong with a E major, and it doesn't even sound minor since it's not being strummed like people normally do with them.


Another example is "Another Brick In The Wall " with the Dm G part.
Sounds great. But, I'd never think of it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YR5ApYxkU-U&t=2m20s

I guess I need to start developing my ear with regards to minor chords. I'll try what's been posted so far.

Just to clarify, I know all about minor chords. I can play them with my eyes closed, from all the songs I've learned over the years. I also know the whole harmonizing the major scale to get I ii iii IV V vi vii(dim). I know all that. I've tried making up progressions from that major scale harmonization, but they always sounded boring. Maybe I need to revisit that.

I just never THINK to use minor chords when I am coming up with a riff or progression to jam over. I just never went down that path, somehow. So, I guess I will revisit the whole I ii iii IV V vi vii(dim) concept, for starters.

Any ideas on how to authentically incorporate minor chords into my natural playing, and recognizing opportunities to use them?
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Last edited by MissingSomethin : 04-28-2013 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 04-28-2013, 09:14 PM   #2
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If you don't want to use minor chords then don't use them. If you don't hear them when you write then don't put them in your songs or it'll sound forced as you say.
The Green Day song is using the pop chords - I-V-vi-IV, it's pretty common.

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Old 04-28-2013, 09:38 PM   #3
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What type of music do you play?
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Old 04-28-2013, 10:05 PM   #4
MissingSomethin
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Rock. Classic Rock.
I guess I need to start developing my ear with regards to minor chords. I'll try what's been posted so far.

Just to clarify, I know all about minor chords. I can play them with my eyes closed, from all the songs I've learned over the years. I also know the whole harmonizing the major scale to get I ii iii IV V vi vii(dim). I know all that. I've tried making up progressions from that major scale harmonization, but they always sounded boring. Maybe I need to revisit that.

I just never THINK to use minor chords when I am coming up with a riff or progression to jam over. I just never went down that path, somehow. So, I guess I will revisit the whole I ii iii IV V vi vii(dim) concept, for starters.
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Old 04-28-2013, 10:22 PM   #5
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Start by knowing what the vi chord is for whatever key you're in. Experiment with it once in a while. It can have a very cool effect if you replace a V-I with a V-vi.
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Old 04-28-2013, 10:23 PM   #6
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I suppose if your default thought process is working with major keys you should listen attentively to songs in minor keys to see how the melodies and chords interplay and work your way from there.

That said if you don't enjoy the sound of minor chords in songs because it seems forced or stereotypical there's no real reason to incorporate it into your playing unless you think what you've been playing is getting stale.
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Old 04-28-2013, 10:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shreddymcshred
Start by knowing what the vi chord is for whatever key you're in. Experiment with it once in a while. It can have a very cool effect if you replace a V-I with a V-vi.


Thanks for the concrete idea. I will give this a try.
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Old 04-28-2013, 10:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissingSomethin
... So, I guess I will revisit the whole I ii iii IV V vi vii(dim) concept, for starters.

Any ideas on how to authentically incorporate minor chords into my natural playing, and recognizing opportunities to use them?...


Well, you could revisit the harmonized minor scales again if you need to:

e.g. A NATURAL MINOR: (A,B,C,D,E,F,G)
Triads: Am-Bdim-C-Dm-Em-F-G
7THS: Am7-Bm7b5-CM7-Dm7-Em7-FM7-G7

A HARMONIC MINOR: (A,B,C,D,E,F,G#)
Triads: Am-Bdim-Caug-Dm-E-F-G#dim
7ths: AmM7-Bm7b5-CM7#5-Dm7-E7-FM7-G#dim7

Probably you already know these songs but I would recommend recalling them a bit if you're into "minor":
Led Zep - Stairway to Heaven
Eagles - Hotel California
Metallica - Nothing Else Matters
Yngwie Malmsteen - Black Star

Last edited by ha_asgag : 04-28-2013 at 11:26 PM.
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:33 AM   #9
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You said you have used minor 7th chords? They are minor chords. So just don't play the 7th note and you have a minor chord.

And if you mean AC/DC style stuff when you say classic rock, they don't really use minor chords. Also a power chord can function as a minor chord.
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:52 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissingSomethin
This may sound really stupid, but the reality is that I've gone 20 years and never really used minor chords as part of my basic chord vocabulary. Can anyone relate to this? I've done power chords, triads, inversions, etc. I've even used minor7th chords, but, I have never instinctively gravitated towards using minor chords while jamming. It's the most basic chord type after learning major chords, but somehow it passed me by, and always felt forced. Like, "Here is a minor chord. See how it sounds 'sad'"? Or, forcing the use when learning major scale harmonization I ii iii IV V iv vii(dim)....of which I've also never really used to make a progression that sounded catchy.

I know both E and A based barre chord minor shapes. I understand that minor is -3 instead of 3. Bottom line is that I only ever used minor chords when they were part of tablature I was learning.

Green Day's "When I Come Around" does G D Em C
Here is one example of using minor chord NOT for the blatant "sad" sound.
It just fits right in perfectly, and sounds wrong with a E major, and it doesn't even sound minor since it's not being strummed like people normally do with them.


Another example is "Another Brick In The Wall " with the Dm G part.
Sounds great. But, I'd never think of it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YR5ApYxkU-U&t=2m20s

I guess I need to start developing my ear with regards to minor chords. I'll try what's been posted so far.

Just to clarify, I know all about minor chords. I can play them with my eyes closed, from all the songs I've learned over the years. I also know the whole harmonizing the major scale to get I ii iii IV V vi vii(dim). I know all that. I've tried making up progressions from that major scale harmonization, but they always sounded boring. Maybe I need to revisit that.

I just never THINK to use minor chords when I am coming up with a riff or progression to jam over. I just never went down that path, somehow. So, I guess I will revisit the whole I ii iii IV V vi vii(dim) concept, for starters.

Any ideas on how to authentically incorporate minor chords into my natural playing, and recognizing opportunities to use them?

Identify your key and identify which chords should be minor by harmonising the major scale - it's that simple. Minor chords aren't "used for a sad sound", they're used because they're the chords you get when you harmonise the major scale.

Obviously there's no rule that says you HAVE to do that but certainly to my ears a major chord in the wrong place sounds, well, out of place. And sometimes you want that, it can work really well, also some progressions like a I-IV-V are only going to feature major chords anyway. It sounds to me like you simply haven't properly absorbed the concepts behind the major scale and harmony, because once you have you don't really have to think "when to use a minor chord", they just fall into place naturally.

I'd recommend doing a bit of studying, find some songs you like that use major chords, identify the key and see for youurself how the chords in the song fit into the Maj min min Maj Maj min dim sequence, or min dim Maj min min Maj Maj if the song's in a minor key.
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Old 04-29-2013, 04:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissingSomethin
This may sound really stupid, but the reality is that I've gone 20 years and never really used minor chords as part of my basic chord vocabulary. Can anyone relate to this?
I can't, but I'm pretty sure Jimmy Buffett can.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissingSomethin
I've done power chords, triads, inversions, etc. I've even used minor7th chords, but, I have never instinctively gravitated towards using minor chords while jamming.
That's kind of understandable. Jam sessions tend to be upbeat and bluesy. So, major and V7 type chords will predominate. Everybody can follow 12 bar blues right?

You'll find of excursions to the relative minor in turnaround type progressions. But then, nobody really jams an awful lot using turnarounds. I think they're more of the province of singer songwriters..

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissingSomethin
I know both E and A based barre chord minor shapes. I understand that minor is -3 instead of 3. Bottom line is that I only ever used minor chords when they were part of tablature I was learning.
Knowing that you flat the 3rd of a major chord to get a minor, aids on the theory end. The major and minor of the same name really aren't very closely related musically, and you only very infrequently find them in the same song

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissingSomethin
Green Day's "When I Come Around" does G D Em C
Here is one example of using minor chord NOT for the blatant "sad" sound.
OK, that progression is like pigeon shit on statues, it's all over the place. It doesn't sound "sad" the Em just makes that cadence richer. Think Bruce Springsteen, "The River, Think Garth Brooks, "The Beaches of Cheyenne". Joan Baez', "Diamonds and Rust" is in Fm, (same four chords, capo on 1st fret), and actually does sound sad, don't know if it's the capo or the content..

Calling major and minor, "happy and sad", is a bit trite anyway. But, "ominous" or"foreboding", is (IMO) a better description for heavy usage of the minor.

This is my list of "the greatest hits using mostly minor chords".

Emerson, Lake & Palmer, "Battlefield" (from "Tarkus"). Here they take I, V, IV, I in the key of E, and use all minors, (Em, Bm, Am, Em), It's a grandiose and exquisitely dismal anti-war dirge.

Al Stewart, "Roads to Moscow". The Germans invade Russia in WW2. High body count in mostly Eb minor, (it's a 1/2 step tune down played in Em open). And you do get you use the E major and minor chords in the same song, as there's a Phrygian dominant vamp Fbmaj7 > Eb major in certain sections.

(I'm not sure of the enharmonic equivalent there. It might be D# minor, to avoid a flat on the F. D# minor is relative to F# major). So then, Emaj7 > D# (major). I'll really have to count those sharps and flats in those two keys one of these days.

Last example, The Who, "Go to the Mirror" (From Tommy). The song is a basic march/anthem in E major; E//// B// A/ /, But when he goes to the relative minor (C#m > G#m) he winds up making the minor part of the progression positively uplifting.

If you can sit through old fart music, I think those examples might help.

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Old 04-29-2013, 04:44 AM   #12
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After 20 years you've never learnt how to use minor chords? Did you have massive gaps in those 20 years? Its hard to find a song that doesnt use them.
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Old 04-29-2013, 12:45 PM   #13
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When we jam with our band, the progression we use all the time (and really too much) is i-IV (Em-A). I think it's a cool jamming chord progression and if you like jamming, you should try it (it's the same progression as in "Another Brick in the Wall").

But really, there aren't that many songs that don't use any minor chords. And as I said, a minor 7th chord is a minor chord. They are pretty much the same thing. You don't need to play the 7th if you don't want.

So if you want to get used to the sound of a minor chord, just play a lot of songs that use minor chords (and there are so many songs that use minor chords). Most of the time in rock every chord is a power chord but they can still function as minor or major chords. For example "Live Wire" by AC/DC. The main progression is B5-A-E. But the B5 functions as a minor chord. They just don't play it as a minor chord.



And as Captaincranky said, not every minor chord sounds sad. One of the most "happy" progressions IMO is C-Am-F-G. I think it's even happier than C-F-G-C. Also there are some pretty "happy" minor songs just like there are "sad" major songs.
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Old 04-29-2013, 04:07 PM   #14
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TS, I think you're MissingSomethin from your progressions...
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Old 04-29-2013, 04:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaggaraMarine
When we jam with our band, the progression we use all the time (and really too much) is i-IV (Em-A). I think it's a cool jamming chord progression and if you like jamming, you should try it (it's the same progression as in "Another Brick in the Wall").


With the i-IV progression, how would you see that theoretically and therefore in terms of soloing? E.g. the two things that come to mind for me are either an Em key with the A borrowed from E major OR I'd possibly see it as in D maj so both those chords are diatonic. However this would mean the Em wouldn't be a tonal centre but it certainly sounds that way. Thanks
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Old 04-29-2013, 05:08 PM   #16
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With the i-IV progression, how would you see that theoretically and therefore in terms of soloing? E.g. the two things that come to mind for me are either an Em key with the A borrowed from E major OR I'd possibly see it as in D maj so both those chords are diatonic. However this would mean the Em wouldn't be a tonal centre but it certainly sounds that way. Thanks

It could be either. But if the song is just i-IV, it would be in E minor. You could call that a "dorian vamp". It's very common in pop music to use the major IV chord in a minor key (pop = everything but classical and jazz, though using a major IV is also usual in jazz).
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:40 PM   #17
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^^^ Without prompting a modes thing, that's definitely how I approach the i-IV. Pretty typical of Santana songs.
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:30 PM   #18
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(pop = everything but classical and jazz and SATAN).


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Old 04-29-2013, 11:58 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by MaggaraMarine
It could be either. But if the song is just i-IV, it would be in E minor. You could call that a "dorian vamp". It's very common in pop music to use the major IV chord in a minor key (pop = everything but classical and jazz, though using a major IV is also usual in jazz).

I consider Jazz and Pop to be in the same boat.
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Old 04-30-2013, 04:36 AM   #20
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I consider Jazz and Pop to be in the same boat.

Yeah, I think it kind of depends. Jazz is kind of more "sophisticated" music than pop and people who listen to jazz usually listen to classical too. Though that doesn't make it not pop. Yeah, maybe jazz is also pop.
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