Lesson 16

The E minor Chord (Em)

It is no surprise that this is one of the first chords that new guitar players learn. It is probably the easiest chord to play across all 6 strings

A Little Bit About Minor Chords

People often say that minor chords have a sad or unhappy sound, while major chords have a happy, optimistic sound. This difference in emotional flavour is the result of a simple fact about the way minor chords are constructed.

As you may know, a major chord consists of a "triad" (three notes). These notes create a natural harmony. The notes are the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of the scale. For example, a C major chord consists of C, E and G - the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the C Major scale.

We turn a major chord like this into a minor one by "flattening the 3rd". In other words, C minor is made up of C, Eb and G. The E is flattened by one fret to Eb.

It will be a while before you need to worry about C minor. But other minor chords come up regularly in simple songs for beginners. E minor is one of those chords.

With E Major/E minor it is easy to see the relation between the major and minor versions of these chords. In each case we just drop a note by one fret. As mentioned above this is always the 3rd.

This means that you play G1 for E Major, and G0 for E minor. Pretty simple!

Relative Minor of G Major

The other thing worth knowing about Em is that it is the relative minor of G Major. What that means is that it is built on exactly the same scale as G Major. For practical purposes that also means that Em will often be used in songs written in G Major.

Here are the chords typically used in songs written in G Major:

G(major) - A(minor) - B(minor) - C(major) - D(major) - E(minor) - F(diminished)

Songs using the E minor Chord

See this exercise on its own page.

See this exercise on its own page.

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