The Chord of C Minor


Love’s lament

Chords have characteristics. Personalities, almost. The master composer Schubert even made a directory to explain this!

In it, C Minor is described as a ‘Declaration of love and at the same time the lament of unhappy love. All languishing, longing, sighing of the love-sick soul lies in this key.’

Pretty perfect for a lot of pop music and dance music – love with bittersweet undertones is a common theme!

Tonally, this tension can also work really well with lyrical, or songwriter-based music such as Deep House, EDM and Hip-Hop.


Deeper shades

While these type of characterizations are best suited to classical music, they retain some value when looking at modern popular music. Songs like The Beatles ‘Something’ and Disclosure Ft Aluna George ‘White Noise’ are great examples of the laconic, melancholy yet ultimately propulsive characteristics in C Minor.

Let’s analyze C Minor. Like all tonal chords, it’s generic form is a triad – or three notes played simultaneously – and it starts with it’s own root note, which is, of course, C.

The magic number

Every triad starts with the root note and ends with a perfect fifth – five notes up from the root. The middle note is really important as it decides whether the chord is Minor or Major. Check out this simple chart below:

C Chord Root (AKA ‘Tonic’) Interval 1 Interval 2
Minor C E Flat G
Major C E G

The chart shows us the simple difference between C Minor and C Major and Minor chord. It also tells us that C Minor consists of three notes: C, E Flat and G.

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Relatively speaking

Every Major chord has a relative Minor chord that complements it. If you’ve ever seen the Mixed in Key Harmonic Mixing Wheel (AKA the ‘Camelot’ Wheel) you’ll be familiar with the way chords ‘connect’ based on their position on the wheel.


The outer ring has the Major chords, the inner ring has Minors. Look at the lower left side of the wheel. 5A = C Minor, and is positioned next to 5B = E-Flat Major. These are ‘relative’ chords – very useful when writing chord progressions as you know they’ll sound ‘correct’ even when played on top of one another.

Minimize the Leap

When playing C Minor, you can change the way it’s played and play either of the triad notes at the bottom. Check out the video example below, where you can see and hear the difference between the three ways of playing the same chord. The sound is almost the same and the pitch is identical. These are sometimes referred to as inversions.

These inversions are scored in different ways:

Root First Inversion Second Inversion
C C/E Flat C/G

Why invert?

Inverting chords gives musicians different ways of playing the same chord in different positions on the keyboard – minimizing the distance between chords. That’s where the term ‘Minimize the leap’ originates – something you can easily replicate in Captain Chords.

Flavors and Suspended Chords

We can make C Minor more complex and interesting by adding additional notes. It’s like adding spice to your chord – so be careful not to overdo it.

These additional notes come from the overall diatonic scale of the note, which takes a bit of time to learn.

Each one adds its own flavor, which is why they are sometimes referred to as flavors. It’s super simple to add these flavors in our Captain Chords software – you just select the flavor you want and audition it live within your composition.


The diatonic scale of C Minor


Root Third Fifth 6th 7th 9th 11th 13th
C E Flat G A Flat B Flat D F A Flat


Root Third Suspended 2nd Suspended 4th Fifth
C E Flat D F G

There are fewer potential suspended notes, since they fit in between the root and fifth. There are two options, in fact, which makes sense if you think about it: 1 is taken by the root note, C. 3 is taken by the first interval, and 5 is taken by the perfect fifth. This leaves just 2 and 4 as possible destinations for our suspended notes.

Write your own Chords using Captain Chords

It’s super easy to create your own ideas from scratch. Visit the official Chords homepage and see how it will help you explore music and write your own original productions.