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The Cm chord is made up of the Root, Minor Third, and Perfect Fifth
The Cm chord is known as:
- C Minor
- C Min
- C Minor Triad
The C Minor chord is made up of the notes C, Eb, and G
Notes that compose the C m chord:
How the Minor chord is built:
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These maps show you the tones in a chord all along the fretboard. They are incredibly helpful because allow you to:
- Create new voicings on the fly, across all the neck
- Improvise targeting the right notes
- Unlock the fretboard and expand the CAGED system.
In the new ebook, Chords Domination, you'll find the fretboard tones maps for 44 different qualities of chords. Check it out:
Before we find different chord positions for Cm let’s get an idea of how the chord is built and used.
The notes for the C major scale are C D E F G A B and a major chord is made up of the root, major third, and perfect fifth. Which means a C major chord is made up of the notes C-E-G. If we instead use the root, minor third, and perfect fifth we get CEbG or C minor
C minor scale: CDEbFGAbBb
- One famous song written in a minor key was "Stairway to Heaven"
- One particular tune using Cm was "Blackbird" by The Beatles.
- The song "Creep" by Radiohead uses C major and then C minor to end each verse. (And the song "Creep" is supposedly a copy of the song "Air That I Breathe" by The Hollies and that also uses the Cm chord)
That is why that chord progression (C major and the C minor) has been used so many times (even "Get Free" by Lana Del Ray) it sounds so nice changing from the major to the minor.
Using the tones above we can come up with some of the more popular versions of how to play the Cm chord. Usually when we play a chord we want the root note (here C) to be the lowest played bass note. Sometimes we will find a chord shape where that isn’t the case, which means the chord is an inversion. If the lowest note is E or G instead of the C than that is an inversion. It will depend on previous and latter chords in the progression as to whether the inversions sound good when played. Sometimes the inversions will sound better than the regular chord with the normal root note!
One common way to play Cm is by using barre chord minor shapes. For example the Am shape moves up three frets to become Cm X35543. Or we move the Em shape up eight frets at 8-10-10-8-8-8.
Or we can try voicing it as 8655XX or perhaps the first inversion which is easily played X6554X
We can also try some complicated positions with muted strings. Like X3X04X which is used in the song Blackbird like we mentioned above. Also this "open" Cm X3101X. Remember muting the outer E strings will be a lot easier than internal strings, they require a lot more practice.
You will often see Cm in the Keys of Eb, Bb, and Ab. Of course it may be used in regular keys like G and F if you want a mood change from major to minor. Three common scales that are fitting when playing the Cm chord are the natural minor scale, the harmonic minor, and the melodic minor scale.