Discovering minor chord progressions-minor chords2-800
Are you ready to practice some popular Minor Chord Progressions? In the last two articles in this series you learned the basics of minor scales and minor chord progressions. Now it is time to apply this knowledge to practice with some practical exercises that work on your ear training skills and performance.

Common Chord Progressions

As every musician knows, there are infinite possible chord progressions in music but our favorite types of pop/folk, rock, jazz, and classical music often return to set chord progressions that we play over and over again and have grown to love.

If you need to brush up on recognising chords, you can check out these simple chord ear training exercises.

Exercise 1: Chord Quality

When learning how to play Minor Chord Progressions, you need to be able hear the difference between different chord qualities. While there are many chord qualities, including diminished and augmented, right now we are going to focus on the difference between minor and major chords.

In the following 6 examples you are going to hear a chord. Is it major or minor? Can you grab an instrument and work out exactly which chord it is? Write down your answers and then check with the answers below.

Show answers

  • Example 1: C Major
  • Example 2: F Major
  • Example 3: G Minor
  • Example 4: E Minor
  • Example 5: B Minor
  • Example 6: E Major

How did you do? Were you able to tell which ones were major or minor? Bonus points if you could identify which chord you heard. If you answered all of the answers correctly, you can tell major chords from minor chords and you are ready to move on to chord progressions.

Need a Little More Practice?

What if you need a little more practice? That’s okay! It just takes some time and practice to learn a new skill like hearing chord qualities.

Here are more great exercises and information on chords:

Now that you are comfortable with hearing minor chords and can differentiate them from major chords, try the chord progression exercises below.

Exercise 2: Chord Progression: i-iv-V-i

In this exercise you are going to practice playing along with chords following the simple chord progressions: Am-Dm-E-Am.

  1. Listen to the example.
  2. Look over the sheet music.
  3. Play the chords along with the track on your instrument.
  4. Improvise over the chord progression.

Minor Chord Progressions - iivViProgression

Remember that many chord progressions are built around these chords, using the i, iv, or V chord as a means to move the harmonic progression forward.

Exercise 3:Chord Progression: i-ii dim-V-i

In this exercise you are going to practice playing along with chords following the simple chord progressions: Am-B dim-E-Am.

  1. Listen to the example.
  2. Look over the sheet music.
  3. Play the chords along with the track on your instrument.
  4. Improvise over the chord progression.

Minor Chord Progressions - iiiViProgresssion

Exercise 4: Chord Progression Playalong

In this simple backing track to George Gershwin’s “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess, you can practice playing along with a longer minor chord progression in A Minor. While there are plenty of 7th chords in this track, you can easily drop the 7th and just play the basic chords like this instead:

Minor Chord Progressions - Summertime Chords modified

In this song you can hear how the chord progressions move towards the A minor chord and the E major chord. Remember than in most songs, the harmonic progression wants to resolve to the tonic (A) or the dominant (E).

  1. Review the modified chord progressions from “Summertime” above.
  2. Listen to the modified chords audio.
  3. Practice improvising and playing the chords in the modified version.
  4. Once you are comfortable with these chord progressions, then play the YouTube video below.
  5. Play the chords with the playalong track.
  6. Once you are comfortable with the modified chords, start to play the 7th chords in the YouTube video.
  7. Improvise over the playalong track.

If you find that playing along with the YouTube track is too difficult, then work with the modified chord audio. It always helps to use your ears to really hear for chord changes. Sometimes it can be difficult. Memorizing the sound and quality of the chords will help you as you learn these chords.

Notice that several Minor Chord Progressions can be extracted from this example.

  • Measure 11: i-iv-VII-III-i
  • Measure 13: i-ii dim-V-i
  • Measure 15: i-ii dim-V

By starting with shorter chord progressions and learning how to combine them with other chord progressions, you will expand your harmonic skills.

Your Minor Journey

There are many, many popular minor chord progressions. You have learned a few in this article and can use the practice tracks to continue to work on your musical skills. Continue to learn new progressions, and combine progressions together to make longer songs.

Experiment with chords and scales, combining both major and minor keys in your songs and training your ears for more kinds of minor chord progression. As you continue to expand your harmonic palette, you will be amazed at what you will create!


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