Chords In Keys

Let's tackle a bit about music theory. Understand what are chords in keys! :)

View the full lesson at Chords In Keys | JustinGuitar

easiest way to remember which is major/minor is in a major key chords 1-4-5 are major. in a minor 1-4-5 are minor. just think of the blues


Welcome to the forum Jason
If you’re going to remember in Major 1 4 5 are major you may as well add 2 3 6 are minor
and 7 is Diminished.
minors a little trickier. minor diminished Major minor minor Major Major

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Hello @gristam and welcome to the Community.

I’m sure that 1, 4, 5 memory aid will help a lot of people.

The 1, 4, 5 are major in major and minor in minor.

Nice, simple, neat.

Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | Community Moderator, Official Guide, JustinGuitar Approved Teacher

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The note for the chords in the key of C in the learn more page shows the minor chords listed twice

Hi, just wanted to say there’s a small mistake (duplicate writing) in the article:

Major Chords: C, F, G,Minor Chords: Dm, Em, Am

Minor Chords: Dm, Em, Am

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Not sure if this is the right time to be asking this so far in the lesson, but I saw the song Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones is in the key of G major. When I looked at all the chords in that song, I saw that they matched the scale (G, Bm, C, D) except for two of them. Am and F are in that song, but those notes are not in the G major scale. Is that normal to sometimes play chords that are not in the key of a song?


IMHO, the right time to ask, is when you have a question and ask :wink: I am still a very much beginner. But the more songs I look through, it seem to be much more common, that there are chords borrowed from other keys, one way or the other. Also some songs change keys in the middle of a song and then go back again to the key the song started in. Some start in one key and end in another. No limits really. - Richard have made an extensive post about borrowed chords.

using borrowed chords


That makes sense. Thanks for the reply!

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Hello @abcdefg1234 and welcome to the community.

Many thanks for the alert, I have fixed the double-entry.

If you see any issues that require a fix can you please tag (using the @ symbol) myself and @DavidP and @LievenDV - that will ensure it gets prompt attention. Thanks. :slight_smile:

Good question based on your learning Dave.

Note that Am and is extension Am11 are in the key of G (diatonic chords) so it is only F (Fadd9) that seems not to fit.

The G major scale and its diatonic triads (chords):

In the borrowed chord topic kindly linked by Kim above, Example 5 has a progression in the key of G major too, from where I can use the same partial Circle of Fifths.

Look at the parallel key of G minor to see that the F chord (extended in the song to Fadd9) is borrowed from the parallel minor key.

I hope that helps.


Thank you for that very thorough and informative answer! Appreciate it.


I just wanted to say, I am so pleased that I now understand the point of scales!! It’s great that you can link them to the specific chords. Being I prefer finger picking it’s like a door has been push open. Many thanks