Major Versus Minor

If you are at this point in the course you have probably had your fair share of experience with minor chords. Minor chords and major chords are polar opposites while major chords are bright, happy sunny and strong, minor chords are often thought of as said, dark and mournful. Although they are very similar to each other, and differ only by one note there is a world of difference between major chords and minor chords.

Once again, if you are at this point in the course you are well schooled in the theory of a major chord versus that of a minor chord but for the sake of completeness, and for reference and review, the diagram below is a good quick look at the associated music theory. Of course all discussions of music theory, it's numerology and terminology, revolve around the major scale.

All of the notes in the major scale are considered natural notes -that is to say notes that are naturally occurring in the major scale. So the third note of the A major scale which is C sharp (C#) is, in theoretical terms called the natural third.

The A major triad, also known as the A major chord, is comprised of the first, third and fifth notes of the major scale.

A natural minor scale is a major scale which has had its third, sixth and seventh degrees lowered by one halfstep this is called being flatted by one halfstep.

The A minor triad, also known as the A minor chord, is comprised of the first, flatted third and fifth notes of the major scale.  Even though the third of the A minor scale (and therefore the third of the a minor triad) is a C natural note, it is still considered a flatted third. This is because, as I said before, the major scale is the king of music theory.

To get the sound of A major and A minor in your ear, and to review your chord spellings and formulas, check out the interactive diagram below.

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Video Le sson

Converting The 5 Basic CAGED System Chord Shapes To Minor

Now that we have cemented our basic understanding of the key of A minor, and of minute keys in general, we can get into the business at hand: converting the five basic major chords in the CAGED system into minor chord shapes.  With the exception of C minor and G minor the five basic minor chord shapes are instantly recognizable, common knowledge chords. Review the diagrams below to make sure you understand the five basic minor chord shapes in the CAGED system.

Converting C Major To C Minor In Position One

As you probably already know, C major is generally not thought of as a first position chord although the voicing below makes it possible to play one.  All forms in the CAGED system are important however and variations of this minor chord are often found in professional level guitar playing.  Also, remember these five chord shapes serve as the system of neck organization so even if it is not the most usable chord form, it is always a valuable and useful position and shape to understand.

Converting A Major To A Minor In Position One

There is certainly no mystery here, both a major and a minor common knowledge chord forms. If you are at this level the course I don't have to tell you how valuable a root five major chord or minor chord can be.

Converting G Major To G Minor In Position One

The G minor chord in position one is another one of those chords that is rarely, if ever played. But at the risk of being repetitive, you must know all positions and their corresponding shapes very well if you are to truly master the 5 position CAGED system.

Converting E Major To E Minor In Position One

Once again, common knowledge chord forms and make complete sense.  The root 6 E type form of any chord is probably the most used and thought of in position playing.


Converting D Major To D Minor In Position One

Finally, converting the D major  to D minor by lowering the third note the D major scale (F#) by one half step.

Playing 5 Minor Chord Shapes In The CAGED System

Now, our next step is to play the five minor chord shapes associated with the CAGED system.  We will begin with the key of A minor because it's the key which uses no flats and sharps in the key signature and is located at the very top of the circle of fifths.

As a reminder, the circle of fifths is an extraordinarily valuable tool in your practicing of the guitar and learning about music in general so it's always good to keep an illustration of the circle of fifths handy.


5 CAGED Positions Of The A Minor Chord

Begin your work below with the five positions of an A minor chord. You will be using the positions that you saw me play in the video, which of course are based on common knowledge open string chords. The notable exceptions are the G type in the C type which are generally not thought of as useful are well-known minor chord voicings in the open position. The G type of minor chord is very unusual and uncomfortable to play as a movable chord shape and I demonstrated a few different perspectives on the shape in the video. In the diagram below noticed the two bright green dots in the G minor type of chord, the second diagram in the illustration below, which are included there for the sake of completeness.


If you have progressed to this point in my chords course sequentially, you are well aware of my concept of chord reference charts. I believe that someone should constantly be updating and rewriting the chord files in their mental computer on an ongoing basis. It is impossible to know too much, understand too much, or to have played too many unusual or little known chord forms. A knowledge of the guitar is dependent on a vast knowledge of chord forms.

The diagrams below have the five minor chords associated with the CAGED system represented in every one of the 12 keys of music. I am not suggesting you memorize all of the chord forms in this lesson immediately, I am merely saying that these pages should be added to your reference materials, your personal guitarists library so you can return to them often, with each successive visit gaining a little more understanding and a little more mastery of this five position CAGED system.  Finally if the exercises you do as part of your personal practicing regimen are more difficult, and more mentally demanding than the actual songs you will be playing in your life as a musician, you will experience a sense of freedom when you actually do play. This sense of freedom means you are not thinking and struggling: tethered to your system of knowledge. This sense of freedom means you are listening to and interacting with the other musicians, doing your best to create beautiful music, to stay in the moment and not merely survive.

5 CAGED Positions Of The E Minor Chord

Once you are comfortable with the key of a minor quickly focus your thoughts to the key of E minor and begin playing the five associated chords in the CADEG system smoothly, a sending in descending up and down the neck. These chord reference charts are here for you to visualize each and every key, and methodically memorize the positions in those keys. This type of practicing enables you to effortlessly play all over the guitar neck and not be trapped in one or two positions.

Chord Soloing

The premise of this course is not only learning how to play and mname chords but also how to use them in your life as a musician. One of the most interesting applications of a large chord vocabulary is the creation of your very own solo guitar pieces. This study is an arrangement of a classic British folk ballad called Scarborough Fair. Although the song dates back to at least the Renaissance period, a version of it was made popular by the iconic duo Simon and Garfunkel in the 1960s. It is a beautiful haunting melody, which deals with the subject of lost love.

Our version is done in a style called chord soloing, which means that each melody note is harmonized with the appropriate chord of that moment, with that melody note being the highest pitched note of said chord. This technique causes the melody to be very audible and to jump out at the listener as a series of harmonies. I like to think of it as a harmonized melody. Chord soloing is most often thought of in the context of jazz guitar playing, and the term chord soloing itself is rarely, if ever used when discussing any instrument other than the guitar.

First, just listen to the arrangement and notice the sound and overalll musical effect. Take special notice of the ideas we have discussed so far in the course such as slash chords (e.g. D/A) and interesting chords in the minor family such as E min 9. Click on the PDF image just below the arrangement for a highly detailed and printer friendly study of the arrangement.

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Scarborough Fair Chord Solo

Click the printer/ pdf icon th the left for a copy of the Scarborough fair chord solo and analysis which includes chord frames, guitar tab and performance notes.


5 CAGED Positions Of The B Minor Chord

Finally, the chord reference charts for the remaining keys appear below. Print and save these studies in a large binder and referred to them often. With regular practice, attention to detail, and visualizing the five positions will become second nature to you.


5 CAGED Positions Of The F Sharp Minor Chord


5 CAGED Positions Of The C Sharp Minor Chord


5 CAGED Positions Of The G Sharp Minor Chord


5 CAGED Positions Of The D Minor Chord

5 CAGED Positions Of The G Minor Chord


5 CAGED Positions Of The C Minor Chord


5 CAGED Positions Of The F Minor Chord


5 CAGED Positions Of The B Flat Minor Chord


5 CAGED Positions Of The E Flat Minor Chord