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Learn the expressive darkness of the F minor chord

The F minor chord is a wonderful, darker sounding triad that is commonly found in a number of popular songs and classical favorites. Learning to master the F minor chord is a basic skill on piano that will broaden your repertoire of chords, deepen your understanding of music theory and harmony, and allow you to access more new and exciting sounds.

In this article, we will explore all the basics of the F minor chord including how it is built, how we play it on the piano in both hands, some chords that are related to the F minor chord, and some common chord progressions that use F minor. When you are ready, dive in!

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What is an F minor chord?

An F minor chord is a triad (three note chord) with a root note of F, a minor third, A♭ and a perfect fifth, C. Remember, all minor triads follow the same intervallic formula of a minor third (three half steps or semitones) followed by a major third (four half steps or semitones). All minor triads have the same scale degree formula of 1 – ♭3 – 5. The F minor triad is spelled F – A♭ – C.

How is a minor triad different from a major triad?

You may feel slightly confused about the difference between minor and major piano chords. However, the difference is quite simple.

A major triad is composed of a major third (four half steps or semitones) followed by a minor third (three half steps or semitones).

A minor triad is composed of a minor third (three half steps or semitones) followed by a major third (four half steps or semitones).

As you can see, major triads and minor triads are simply the opposite of one another! Pretty cool, right?

How to play an F minor chord

An F minor triad is quite simple to play on the piano. With your right hand, place your first finger on F, your third finger on A♭, and your fifth finger on C. With your left hand, place your fifth finger on F, your third finger on A♭, and your first finger on C. Easy!

The F minor chord looks like this on the piano:

f minor chord

Inversions of F minor

All triads can be played in three different ways. We call these different ways chord inversions. Basically, we rearrange the notes of the chord. Inversions offer us slightly different shades of the chord which can be useful expressive tools in chord progressions.

Each triad has three basic positions: root position, first inversion, and second inversion. The basic triad we learned above is in root position, meaning the root note is the lowest sounding note of the chord.

1st inversion of the F minor chord

To make a first inversion triad, all you need to do is make the third (the middle note) the lowest sounding chord. A first inversion F minor triad is spelled A♭ – C – F.

To play it with your right hand, start with your first finger on A♭, your third finger on C, and finally your fifth finger on F. To play it with your left hand, start with your fifth finger on A♭, your third finger on C, and your first finger on F. 

The chord looks like this on the piano:

1st inversion of the F minor chord

2nd inversion of the F minor chord

To make a second inversion chord, all you need to do is put the fifth as the lowest sounding note of the chord. This means that second inversion F minor triad is spelled C – F – A♭.  

To play the chord with your right hand, place your first finger on C, your third finger on F, and your fifth finger on A♭.

To play the chord with your left, place your fifth finger on C, your third finger on F, and your first finger on A♭.

The chord looks like this on the piano:

f minor chord

 

Chords related to F minor

There are seven chords in the key of F minor:

F minor, G diminished, A♭ major, B♭ minor, C minor, D♭ major, E♭ major

The progression of chords in any natural minor scale follows this progression of minor, diminished, major, minor, minor, major, major. Memorizing this will save you time when moving chord progressions to different keys.

You may also notice that F minor is the relative minor of A♭ major. Understanding the concept of relative minor and relative major is another great shortcut you can use when you learn how to play piano to easily jump between key centers and manipulate chord progressions much faster.

Common chord progressions with F minor

F minor is a great chord that you will see all over the place. Some common piano chord progressions with an F minor chord are:

  • F minor – E♭ major – D♭ major – C major (i – VII – VI – V)
  • F minor – D♭ major – C major – F minor (i – VI – V – i)
  • F minor – C major – B♭ minor – F minor (i – V – iv – i)
  • F minor – D♭ major – A♭ major – E♭ major (i – VI – III – VI)

Add to your chord mastery

F minor is a great chord to add to your library of piano chords. Understanding how minor triads work, how you can build them, and the related chords to F minor will open new doors and allow you to access new sounds and songs. It is always a worthwhile idea to add to your knowledge of chords and music theory.

Skoove is full of lessons on chords, repertoire, and music theory. Whether you favor pop hits or are more interested in exploring classical favorites or brushing up your skills with chords and theory, Skoove offers great lessons for every student. Check it out this week!

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Author of this blog post:

Edward Bond

Eddie Bond is a multi-instrumentalist performer, composer, and music instructor currently based in Seattle, Washington USA. He has performed extensively in the US, Canada, Argentina, and China, released over 40 albums, and has over a decade experience working with music students of all ages and ability levels.

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Start your musical journey
  • Fall in love with the music - Learn your favorite songs; whether they're classical, pop, jazz or film music, all at a level that suits you.
  • Enjoy interactive piano lessons - Learn with courses that help you master everything from music theory, chords, technique and more.
  • Get real-time feedback - Improve your practice with rich feedback as Skoove listens to your playing and highlights what went well and areas for improvement.
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