Minor key chord progressions are based around the same concept - a
"home" chord, a journey away from home (the progression), followed by a
resolution (the return home). With minor key songs, however, this tonic
chord is... minor.
key relationships in chord progressions
Just as in the first part we looked at some natural relationships that
define a major key chord progression, let's do the same for minor key
As we're using a minor tonic,
the numeral to represent this will be a lower case i
as opposed to the major I.
Note that with the most common open fingerings (based around those 5
basic shapes), there are only 3 minor chords we can use. We'll expand
on this at a later time. The important thing at this stage is you get
an ear for the relationships we're building...
So each of these is effectively the same
relationship (the same chord intervals), just
different tonic chords. It is these tonic minor chords that allow us to
create songs "in the key of __ minor".
Just like the major key I - IV relationship we looked at in part 1, its
minor equivalent has been used in music for centuries and is part of
the diatonic scale. It can be used as part of your songs when you need
it. Get to know its sound.
Another important minor key relationship... the iv,
minor v chord is commonly replaced by a major V chord as this
more harmonic weight when resolving back to the minor tonic.
The major V chord provides more tension before the return home. A
common use of the v/V position is to start with the minor v and change
to a major V in the same bar...
we know the basic relationships that make up major and minor keys, we
can create both major and minor tonic resolutions in the same song, if
we wish. It's sort of like a key change, but not strictly, because
we're still within the same diatonic key. It's known as relative
See, if you identify a major tonic, its relative minor key
will be the vi
chord we learned in the first part.
Similarly, if we start with a minor tonic, it will have its own relative major key.
That's our final relationship in this lesson...
Relative Major (I)
let's say our song started in the key of C major. We could use some or
all of the relationships we learned in part 1, but by resolving that
journey away from home to its relative minor chord, A minor, instead of
back to the C major tonic, we switch into its relative minor key!
vice versa if you start in the key of A minor. Resolving to its
relative major chord, C major, will move the progression into its relative major key.
difference between relative key changes and proper key changes (which
we'll look at another time) is that relative key changes sound more
natural and you can still use those same relationships/chords you were
in the original key. The only difference is the chord you're resolving
is what defines the key centre of our songs.
Hear how this relative key change alters the overall feel of the
progression - to put it simply, you can either resolve to happiness or
we go on to look at song structure, you'll see how knowledge of this
relative key can be further enhanced, using minor key verses and major
key choruses, for example.
For now though, keep experimenting
with different major and minor key combinations, building on those
relationships we've learned. Of course, these relationships exist
outside open chord fingerings, but more on that another time.