The A Minor triad is one of the most popular chords in Western music. In this article you’ll learn how to contract the A minor triad as well as how to play it on piano and guitar. We’ve also included sections on inversions for those that want a deeper understanding. Lastly, listen to some examples of popular songs that featured this triad.
A Minor Triad – Root, 3rd and 5th
The A Minor triad is formed of the 1st, 3rd and 5th of the A minor scale. Another way of putting this is that we have the root note (A), a minor 3rd above this (C), and a perfect 5th above the root (E). By playing these note we form the A minor triad, or the A minor chord.
Below is the A minor triad shown in the treble and bass clef.
Before you read on make sure that you have a basic understanding of intervals. Intervals are vital for understanding how triads are built. Check out our guide to major, minor and perfect intervals for more on this.
A Minor Triad on Piano
Below you can see how to play an A minor triad on the keyboard or piano. This pattern of notes could also be played starting on any A note. However, the order of the notes must be the same, with A being the lowest note, followed by C and the highest note being E. This is called ‘root position’.
How to play the A Minor Triad on Guitar
There are two simple positions that you can use to play an A minor triad on guitar. Both positions can also be slide up or down the neck to play different minor triads.
A Minor Triad 1st Inversion
A 1st inversion is where we take a triad but we start on the second note, which in this case is C natural. We still keep the E above, but then the A (or root) become the highest note. This way of rearranging a triad gives us a different sound as the relative pitches of the three notes has changed.
We could construct a 1st inversion starting on any C note in any octave. The only thing that must stay the same is that the we use the E above and the A above that. Below you can see this triad on the staff.
How to play A minor 1st inversion on Piano
On the piano we can play the 1st inversion of an A Minor triad by starting on a C natural. They play the E above and the A above this.
How to Play A Minor 1st Inversion of Guitar
Below are the most common shapes for playing an A minor triad in the 1st inversion. Remember that we can only use certain shapes are the pitches of the three notes are important.
A Minor Triad 2nd Inversion
A 2nd inversion is where we take a triad but we start on the third note, which in this case is E natural. We still keep the A above this as we did from the 1st inversion. Then the C becomes the highest note in the chord. Again this will give us a different sound as the relative pitches of the three notes has changed.
We could construct a 2nd inversion starting on any E note in any octave. The only thing that must stay the same is that the we use the A above and the C above that. Below you can see this triad on the staff.
How to play A minor 2nd inversion on Piano
On the piano we can play the 2nd inversion of an A Minor triad by starting on a E natural. They play the A above and the C above this.
How to Play A Minor 2nd Inversion of Guitar
Below are the most common shapes for playing an A minor triad in the 2nd inversion. Remember that we can only use certain shapes are the pitches of the three notes are important.
What different types of triad are there?
There are several different types of triads that we can create for the major scale:
- Major Triad– This is formed with the 1st, 3rd (major 3rd) and 5th (perfect fifth) of the major scale. The A Major triad is A, C# and E.
- Minor Triad– This is the same as the major triad, except instead of a major 3rd we have a minor 3rd. The A Minor triad is therefore A, C, E.
- Diminished Triad – To create the diminished triad start with the 1st (A), then minor 3rd (C) then a diminished 5th (Eb). A Diminished 5th interval is a half-step (semitone) smaller than a perfect 5th.
- Augmented Triads– This triad starts with the 1st degree of the scale (A), followed by major 3rd (C#) and augmented 5th (E#). An augmented 5th interval is a half-step (semitone) larger than a perfect 5th.
Triads from the A Minor Scale
By looking at the A Minor scale we can actually make triads built on each note and only using notes from A minor. Below you can see a list of each triad we will create be starting on different notes of the scale.
- A Minor
- B Dim
- C Major
- D Minor
- E Minor
- F Major
- G Major
Famous Songs in A Minor
Here’s 3 famous examples of songs in the key of A minor. For this reason, they use A Minor triads, as the root note chord, priminently in their chord progressions.
‘Angie’ – The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones’ ‘Angie’ is a heartfelt rock ballad renowned for its soulful vocals and melancholic lyrics. It stands out as a poignant and enduring track in the band’s extensive repertoire.
‘Dreams’ – Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’ is an iconic rock track celebrated for its blend of emotional lyrics and harmonious vocals.
‘Tennis Court’ – Lorde
Lorde’s ‘Tennis Court’ is an ethereal pop song known for its minimalist production and introspective lyrics, representing the artist’s distinctive style.