Chords in Major and Minor Scales

Building chords in a major scale

By now, we can create both major and minor scales by using our lists of intervals. We also know it is possible to name them with the numbers one to seven. We also learned a formula to build any major or minor chord. Now, it’s time for the next step!

We would like to link the right chords to the seven different notes within any given family in major. Once you have found the major scale of a certain key, you can use the formula below to find the right chords:

1st = major

2nd = minor

3rd = minor

4th = major

5th = major

6th = minor

7th = diminished

If you take a look at the illustration of the C-major scale, you will normally end up with the following chords:

  • 1: C-major (written as C from now on)

  • 2: D-minor (written as ‘d’);

  • 3: E-minor (written as ‘e’);

  • 4: F-major (written as F);

  • 5: G-major (written as G);

  • 6: A-minor (written as ‘a’);

  • 7: B-diminished (written as Bdim or b°)

It is most important to start with the basis, i.e., from the seven notes of any major scale. Just to be clear: the inverted commas near the lowercase (or minor) chords are only meant to avoid confusion in the text, they have no special meaning.

Building chords in a minor scale

Let's do the same by applying this to a minor scale. You know by now that the intervals used differ according to whether the scale is a minor or a major scale. To form a minor scale, we start again with the family of A-minor (or ‘a’). Earlier, we arrived at the following notes: A (1st), B (2nd), C (3rd), D (4th), E (5th), F (6th) and G (7th).

1st = minor

2nd = diminished

3rd = major

4th = minor

5th = minor

6th = major

7th = major

If you apply the above list, you normally obtain the following:

  • A-minor (written ‘a’);

  • B-diminished (written as Bdim or b°);

  • C-major (written as C);

  • D-minor (written as ‘d’);

  • E-minor (written as ‘e’);

  • F-major (written as F);

  • G-major (written as G)