Mastering Chords in E Minor: A Music Theory Guide

By Jade Bultitude
Last Update:

Each minor scale can be used to create chords in that key. These can be used to create chord progressions that underpin melodies and will allow you to create pieces in any key you like.

Chords in E Minor are created from the E Minor scale. The notes in the E natural minor scale are shown below along with the degree of the scale.

  • E – 1, Tonic
  • F# – 2, supertonic
  • G – 3, mediant
  • A – 4, subdominant
  • B – 5, dominant
  • C – 6, submediant
  • D – 7, leading note

You may notice that these notes are the same as the G Major scale which also has one sharp (F#). This is because G Major is the relative major key to E Minor.

E Minor scale

Chords in E Minor

As with all keys, we can create chords on each note of the E minor scale. Below you can see the chords in E minor and their individual notes. Notice that we have an F# in some of the chords. This is because E natural minor has one sharp in its key signature. 

Each chord is also called a triad and consists of the root note, the 3rd above and the 5th above (in the scale). If we use this idea for every note of the scale, we get all 7 chords in the key of E minor.

 Here are the chords in E minor:

  • i – E Minor: E – G – B
  • ii° – F# diminished: F# – A – C
  • III – G major: G – B – D
  • iv – A minor: A – C – E
  • v – B minor: B – D – F#
  • VI – C major: C – E – G
  • VII – D major: D – F# – A
chords in e minor

As you can see, we can label each chord according to the root note and using Roman numerals. Learn more about Roman numeral chord labelling. For a lightning quick summary, upper case numerals are MAJOR, lower case are MINOR and the little circle means DIMINISHED.

Seventh Chords In E Minor

Notice that all of the chords labelled above are three note chords, otherwise known as triads. It is also possible to make four note chords on these different scale notes. These would be called seventh chords. The first note of the chord will stay the same but you will simply add an additional note, a seventh above the tonic. Take a look at the example below:

  • i – E minor seventh: E – G – B – D
  • ii° – F# minor seventh flat five: F# – A – C – E
  • III – G major seventh: G – B – D – F#
  • iv – A minor seventh: A – C – E – G
  • v – B minor seventh: B – D – F# – A
  • VI – C major seventh: C – E – G – B
  • VII – D dominant seventh: D – F# – A – C
seventh chords in e minor

Chord Progressions in E Minor

  • i – VI – VII (Em – C – D)
  • i – iv – VII (Em – Am – D)
  • i – iv – v (Em – Am – Bm)
  • i – VI – III – VII (Em – C – G – D)
  • ii – v – I (F#m7b5 – Bm – Em)
e minor chord progression - i, VI, VII
e minor chord progression, i, iv, VII
e minor chord progression- i, iv, v
e minor chord progression - i, VI, III, VII
e minor chord progression - ii, v, i

Ear Training and Chords

To develop as a musician you’ll want to be able to recognise chords by ear. This is where ear training comes in. My recommendation for this is Tonegym as they have a comprehensive and fun program for training your ears! It’s what has gotten the best results with for my own students.

In the ‘tools’ section of their site, Tonegym even have a chord player that allows you to listen virtually any chord.

For an in-depth look at ear training, here’s my full review of Tonegym.

chordelius opt tonegym

Piano Chords in E Minor

If you are interested in playing the piano version of these chords then below are diagrams for all chords in E minor.

chords in e minor piano charts 1
chords in e minor piano chart 2

Guitar Chords in E Minor 

Here are the guitar charts for chords in E minor. The numbers inside the green circle show a suggested fingering for each chord.

chords in e minor guitar chord charts

Chord Inversions

There are different versions of these chords that we could play called ‘inversions’. To invert a chord means to change the order of the notes by having the 3rd, 5th or 7th note as the lowest note in pitch. For more on chord inversions on this see our complete guide to chords.

What should I learn next?

Photo of author
Jade is a flute player and music educator with a passion for educating the next generation of musicians. She is a Masters Graduate from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Jade has been helping people learn music theory for more than 10 years from pre school children all the way to degree level studies.