Skip to main content

Music Theory for Electronic Musicians 2: Minor Keys and More

Lesson 5 of 26

Minor Diatonic Chord Progressions

J. Anthony Allen

Music Theory for Electronic Musicians 2: Minor Keys and More

J. Anthony Allen

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

5. Minor Diatonic Chord Progressions

Lesson Info

Minor Diatonic Chord Progressions

okay, It's time to talk about diatonic chord progressions in a minor key. Not to remind you Ah, we looked at diatonic chord progressions in a major key. All that means diatonic chord progressions is a fancy way to say, Ah, all the chords in the key Ah, diatonic just means in key. So, um, all the chords in the key when we did it with a major ah, scale. What we did is we all the notes and we built triads out of them, So first three, etcetera. So we're gonna do that same thing, and we're gonna see what pattern emerges. Now, if you remember, the major scale pattern that we had was major minor, minor, major, major minor diminished that weird one, and then it starts over again. Those were all the cords in Ah, the major scale. So that's the major pattern of doing this. So let's do it with a minor scale and see what emerges. So I'm just gonna take into these. So here's the next note. Ideo up one. This is the second up to the third and then up to the fifth. So I'm looking at what scale degrees ...

making sure I'm only counting notes that air in key the fifth. So Dio, that's a second. That's the third. Because it's right there on both eyes. Gonna be here, skip G and go to a is going third. The next one will be in the key. I'm in a minor right now, By the way, if I didn't point that out. Uh, half third, scroll up to touch here. Third A. Okay, so now I have my diatonic chord progression laid out. Um, let's hear it. What did I do crazy there? A see? What did I do that I e e g? Okay, those first few I think I was talking and I got confused. So first for okay, much better. Let's try that again. Oh, so that's our diatonic chord progression. Now let's figure out what the pattern is, cause it's gonna be different than a major key. But if you remember, we just learned about relative keys, and so we're going to see the same pattern again if we just started at a different spot, So let's have a look. Okay, so we're in a minor key. So pretty safe to assume our first chord. The one chord if you will is going to be minor. So I'm gonna use a lower case. M Our second court here is going to be where the weird one pops up. So in our major scale, when we did this Ah, the seventh scale degree. When we built a court on the seven scale degree, we got that diminished chord, which is kind of like a super minor chord with one we try to avoid all the time. Well, that happens here on the 2nd 1 here, so that's called a diminished chord. So let's just leave that one there for a minute. Ah, the third scale degree is going to be a major. So Capital M, the four scale degree is going to be minor. And then the fifth is gonna be minor. The six is going to be major. The seventh could be major. So our pattern now is minor, diminished. Major, minor, minor, Major, major. Now let's look at what the major diatonic chord progression. What? So the major one is major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished. So remembering our relative majors and miners, if we look at the minor chord progression and we go all the way to a certain point will find the major pattern cycling through. The easiest way to spot it is Look at the diminished chords right, because it diminished chords only happened once, so they happen in the relative same spot. So in the minor chord or sorry, the minor chord progression. If we go to the third again and we start counting from their major minor minor major major right, that's the same as the major chord progression. Major, minor, minor major major. So we started there and this one in the major core progression. If we started here on the six again, we would get minor, diminished major minor minor. That's the same as the other one. Ah, the minor one minor, diminished major minor minor. So the core progressions work the same that they have relatives. But, ah, let's set that aside for a minute because we don't get too confusing. So let's just focus on the diatonic minor chord progression. So remember, the core progression is minor diminished, which means you might want to avoid that one. We don't use that one very often because it's ugly. Um, major, minor, minor, major major and starts over again that is our minor chord progression. That means if we're in C uh, no, I'm sorry. Let's do a Because that's what we're looking at. Now we're in a minor. Ah, a minor. If I go to the third scale degree, that's gonna be a C. That means there is a C major chord in the key of a minor. A minor has a C major in it, so ah, how that's useful to us. We're writing a track, you're working on something and you're in the key of a minor. You know that because you've been using a lot of a you wanted to have a minor sound. Um, and you think, what are my possible courts, where all the cords I could possibly use that would be perfectly in key. That doesn't mean that's the only cords you can use. That just means that's accord you can use to stay perfectly in key when you start using court that are out of key is when it starts to get kind of fun. But let's say you wanted to sound perfectly in key. This tells you all the cords at your disposal. It's gonna be the first ones gonna be minor. So that's gonna be an a minor chord. Second one's gonna be a diminished. So that's going to be diminished symbol for diminished as this tiny zero. Let's put that one in parentheses because we don't really want to use it if we can avoid it. Ah, the third chord is gonna be based on sea because ABC, that's the third note of the scale and that's gonna be C major. So, see, Major, the fourth is gonna be minor. And that's gonna be a d So that's gonna be D minor. Chord Fifth is gonna e That's gonna be an e minor chord Six is an f. So we have an f major chord and the seventh is geese. We have a G major chord. So these are all the cords you can use in the key of a minor. Um, when you're working on a track. So if you're working on a track and maybe the core progression is like a minor d minor C or something like that, that's your corporation, like Okay, it's a sweet. Now I need a bridge. I need something different. What can I do? You can look at all of these and you can say, Well, I could go toe f That would be different. Totally in key. It'll sound good. Nothing really, to worry about. I could go toe f and then maybe d minor and then see, that could be cool. Um, I could go to E minor if I want to keep it kind of dark. I could stick to a minor record so I could go to E minor. I could go to G. I go to pretty much anything I want. That's on this list. That's gonna be stuff that's perfectly in key. It's gonna sound great. Um, now let's walk through how to figure this out one more time. Let's do a different key so that we can figure it out in a different key. Let's look at, um, select all these and let's move to Let's move to see minor for that horrible way. Go very modern. Um, okay, I just transposed everything to put us in C minor. So I didn't go to the relative. I went Teoh the parallel, so I went to from a minor to C minor, so I just had to transpose everything up. Um, so in some minor see the D sharp or the flat sharp a sharp and then see again at the end. So we know what our pattern is. Let's find all the cords we can use in C minor. If our trackers and C minor let's just list out all our possible cords that work in C minor. So we know the pattern. The pattern is going to be minor diminished. Major, minor, minor, major. Oops. Oh, yeah, that's right. Then we start over here, so this is see again. So that's the same as our first court. I was like, Oh, I need one more court. Um okay, so now we have now we just need to put names on these, see? And it's a minor chord. So see, miners in the key of C minor obviously d diminished. And we don't really want to use that one. If we can avoid it. We we do use thes diminished chords. Um, they work pretty well as passing chords. Passing chords means like according to get between two chords really quick. Um and we're not going to sit on it, but you don't want to sit on this. And in dance, music and most electronic music. We just avoid him altogether. Um, if you were doing another style like especially jazz, you abusing diminished courses, too, Like that all the time. But, ah, we don't use it very often, so I'm not gonna spend too much time on okay. Next D sharp. And it's a major chord, so we have D Sharp major. Next is F, and it's a minor chord, so f minor. Next is G, and it's a minor chord. G minor g sharp. That really should be a flat. But let's call it G sharp g sharp. And that's a major chord, a sharp and that's a major chord. Okay, so here are my options. If I'm in the key of C minor and I want to know what I can use, I can use a C minor chord. I can use d diminished chord, which I probably shouldn't. I can use a D sharp major chord. I can use an F minor. I can use a G minor. I can use G sharp major, and I can use in a chart major quote. So now we know all the courts we can use in that key. So all you have to do is figure out what, Kieran, run this pattern. You don't even need Teoh Do all of this business of figuring it out now. Right now we know how to just figure it out. We know this pattern. Minor, diminished major, minor, minor, Major Major. And we know the notes of the scale. Right? So we just gotta put those together and lay out all the possible cords we can use. Cool.

Class Description

In the first part of Music Theory for Electronic Musicians, we learned how to work with the piano roll editor in a DAW to make harmonies, melodies, and whole tracks. In this second part, we'll expand on those ideas. We'll work with minor keys, focus some time on melody and bassline writing, and we'll talk about how different tracks work. 

Extensive Analysis 

In this class, we feature an extensive track analysis segment by Daft Punk, Avicii, Skrillex, and many more. In each of these segments, we'll look at their tracks on the piano roll editor. We'll talk about why they sound the way they do, and how you can use similar techniques in your own music. Each of these segments picks apart multiple elements of the song and dissects it in an easily digestiable manner. 

Who should take this course? 

Anyone interested in producing their own tracks. This will get you up and running and give your tracks a unique sound in no time.


This course consists of video lectures, which all contain a session in Ableton Live 9. If you are using a different program (or none at all), no worries! This isn't a class on how to use Ableton Live, and the concepts can be applied to any DAW.  



Well, I slobbered all over you after your first class and this one is as good or better. I realize people don't go to college for 12 years and learn what you shared in a few hours and you didn't earn your doctorate with just this stuff. I mean Julliard must offer a lot more, but you have advanced my knowledge by miles and I've got to say thank you. Make some more of these simple, common talk courses - I'll buy them all.

Nick van Lochem

This course its so good he makes it al sound so easy. that ists easy to remember and use in your creations.

Scott Vincent

Very cool class - learned a lot from this class as well as from the Part 1 class. Highly recommend both classes!