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What’s the Difference Between Major and Minor Chords?

Posted on .

We hear this question from new guitarists all the time.

Aside from the theory, which we’ll get to in a moment, the main difference between major and minor chords is how they sound. Major chords have a brighter, happier sound while minor chords produce sounds that are sad and melancholy. Songwriters choose their chords carefully to evoke emotions in the listener and give musical form to their lyrics. As you become a more experienced player, you will likely be able to tell exactly what chords are being played within a song.

Now, about the theory: The difference between major and minor chords is this: A major chord consists of a 1st, 3rd, and 5th degree of a major scale while a minor chord is made from the 1st, flatted 3rd, and 5th degrees of a major scale. So the only difference is the 3rd degree. You can see this clearly when you compare certain chords such as an open A Major with an open A Minor chord. The only difference is the note on the second string; changing that one note profoundly affects the sound.

Does your music knowledge need some upgrading? You’ll find an unmatched selection of books, tablature and media at Musician’s Friend to help get you up to speed.

Comments  

# Paige 2015-09-09 17:34
Is f# , and C# a minor major chord?
Reply
# Bernd Willimek 2015-08-18 06:03
Why do Minor Chords Sound Sad?

A major chord is something we generally identify with the message, “I want to!” The
experience of listening to a minor chord can be compared to the message conveyed when
someone says, "No more." If someone were to say the words "no more" slowly and
quietly, they would create the impression of being sad, whereas if they were to scream it
quickly and loudly, they would be come across as furious. This distinction also applies for
the emotional character of a minor chord: if a minor harmony is repeated faster and at
greater volume, its sad nature appears to have suddenly turned into fury.

The Theory of Musical Equilibration applies this principle as it constructs a system which
outlines and explains the emotional nature of musical harmonies. For more information
you can google Theory of Musical Equilibration.

Bernd Willimek
Reply
# suman khatri 2015-05-15 00:10
I'm so glad thanks all of your group.
Reply

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