If you’re new to the world of piano, then learning about F minor piano chord can feel like a daunting task. Not only is terminology potentially confusing, but understand hand and finger positioning can feel like something you’ll never master.
But don’t worry—we’re here to help. In this article, I’m going to help you learn everything you need to know about playing this cord, and we’ll also tackle subjects surrounding fingerings and inversions.
Where the F Minor Chord Comes From
Alright, so you might be wondering where in the world F minor chord comes from, or perhaps you’re not even sure what a chord is. Don’t worry, we’re going to cover it all in depth right now.
Now it’s important to note (no pun intended) that music is made up of sequences of notes called harmonies and melodies. Harmonies support melodies when they’re played together and are created by two or more notes stacked in columns called chords. The notes in one chord should be played at the same time, then the notes in the next chord, and so on.
You can see examples of such chords in the image below:
The F Minor Scale
Alright, now let’s take some time to discuss F minor scale a little bit.
The F minor scale, like all other scales, is made up of a series of notes which are used to create harmonies and melodies. It has seven notes plus a repeat of the first note, an F, at the end to complete an octave. It has four flats—A-flat, B-flat, D-flat, and E-flat—which you can see noted by the symbol ♭ on their respective lines and spaces. This notation is called the key signature. It’s there to let you know that instead of playing the white (natural) A, B, D, and E keys, you should down a half step and play the black (accidental) A♭, B♭, D♭, E♭ keys.
As you can see in the image above, the notes get higher as you move to the right, or up the scale and keyboard. And the notes get lower as you move to the left, or down the scale and keyboard. The way the keys are written on the staff mimics how you move your hands on the piano. You can listen to the scale with this interactive guide.
You can see how the F minor scale is written in the treble clef and in the bass clef in the images below:
Like with major chords, minor chords come from the first, third, and fifth notes of the minor scale. Because they are made up of three notes, they are part of a chord family called triads. They are also named by their root note, or the first note in the chord, so in this case, the note F. The first, third, and fifth notes are F, A♭, and C, so the minor chord is FA♭C, and its name is F minor. It will sometimes appear with the Roman numeral notation I or Ia.
You may have also noticed that the F minor key signature with the four flats looks just like the A♭ major key signature. This is because they are relative keys, meaning that they share all of the same notes but begin at different places on the keyboard. They can be incredibly easy to mix up, but you can learn how to tell the difference between these keys in this article.
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How to Play the F Minor Chord
Locating the Chord on the Piano
To locate the notes in the F minor chord on the keyboard, check out this image:
To find an F key on the piano, look for three black (accidental) keys. Find the one that’s farthest to the left. The F key is the white (natural) key directly below the first of those black keys.
To find an A♭ key on the piano, go back to those three black (accidental) keys. The one in the middle is the A♭ key.
To find a C key, move four white notes up the keyboard from F. The C key is a white (natural) key.
Playing the Chord and Fingerings
If you’re learning to play the piano, you might dream of one day going professional. To help you reach this goal, other professional pianists recommend that you use fingerings when you practice.
Fingerings are specific fingers which are used to play scales and chords. They are written as numbers on sheet music and correspond to particular fingers, especially when you’re just starting out, but as you advance, you’re expected to have them memorized.
Take a look at your hands. You should (hopefully) have five fingers on each hand. Now, start numbering your fingers… your thumbs are 1, your index fingers are 2, your middle fingers are 3, your ring fingers are 4, and your pinkies are 5.
Even though fingerings might seem weird, uncomfortable, or awkward when you’re first learning them, they’re organized to help you build muscle memory, practice your hand technique, and improve the speed and fluidity at which you play.
When I was a beginner, I didn’t really understand the purpose of fingerings, so I ignored them (to my great detriment)! Pretty quickly, though, I figured out that I wouldn’t ever be able to advance to the level I wanted to be at without them. So, instead I retrained my hands and lost months of potential improvement time as I broke old habit and formed ones that I had been recommended in the first place.
Take my advice and start learning fingerings right off the bat! Practice does not make perfect, but it does make permanent, and as you play, you’ll soon be able to refine your technique.
When the F minor chord is in its root position, FA♭C, these are the fingerings:
Let’s try out the chord. Place your hands on the keyboard and line up your fingerings with the notes. Don’t forget to use correct fingerings—your thumbs, middle fingers, and pinkies, should comfortably rest on their notes. Then, when you’re ready, press all of the keys down at the same time!
Congratulations! You’ve just played the F minor chord!
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F Minor Chord Inversions
Now that you’ve tried the FA♭C chord, let’s go over some of the common variations. These are fun to slightly mix up the sound of the chord while keeping the notes the same.
These variations are called inversions since the order of the notes is mixed up, rearranged, or inverted.
1st Inversion (Fm/ A♭)
Take the bottom note of the root position, FA♭C, and move it to the top of the chord to form A♭CF. This chord is in the first inversion.
Watch out for the fingering changes in the right hand between the root position and the first inversion:
The first inversion is also called the Fm/A♭ chord because the third note of the F minor scale, the A, is the lowest note in the chord. It will sometimes appear with the Roman numeral notation I6 or Ib.
2nd Inversion (Fm/C)
Take the bottom two notes of the root position, FA♭C, and move them to the top of the chord to form CFA♭. This chord is in the second inversion.
Watch out for the fingering changes in the left hand between the root position and the second inversion:
The second inversion is called the Fm/C chord because the fifth note of the F minor scale, C, is the lowest note in the chord. It will sometimes appear with the Roman numeral notation I64or Ic.
Tip: When you’re working on making inversions, take a moment to think about the number of notes you need to invert in the chord. If it’s the first inversion, you move one note from the bottom of the chord to the top. If it’s the second inversion, you move two notes from the bottom of the chord to the top.
There aren’t any “other” minor chords in the key of F minor, only the F minor chord and its inversions. However, there are other chords which come from other notes in the F minor scale.
Review of the F Minor Chord
So let’s go over what we’ve learned about the F minor piano chord.
The F minor chord is made up of the first, third, and fifth notes of the F minor scale. The F is the root of the scale, so the chord FA♭C is in the root position and takes its name from the root.
This chord also has two inversions. When you make the first inversion, move the F to the top of the chord to form A♭CF. When you make the second inversion, move the F and the A♭ to the top of the chord to form CFA♭. Don’t forget to check your fingerings for any changes before you play! Also make sure that you press down all of the notes at the same time.
Keep practicing the F minor on piano and its inversions. If you’re feeling down, it might be the perfect thing to turn that frown upside down.
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