I'm talking about a general field. Just as with most people, a D minor chord triggers a sad emotion, and C major triggers a happy one, are there chords that triggers romantic feelings in general?

Related: What are the feelings & emotions behind chords?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Richard, Dom Feb 3 '18 at 21:47

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 5
    Chords don't have emotional quality in and of themselves, and I strongly disagree with the characterization of minor chords as "sad" and major chords as "happy". How a chord is played, how it is voiced, and the context it is played in (associated melody and chord progression) all contribute to any emotional qualities we may ascribe to a chord. The answers you linked to seem to agree. Consider that ii-V-I progressions contain a minor chord that need not sound sad at all; or consider a tune like Barney Kessel's Minor Mystery that ends on a minor major 9 chord that opens up into uncertainty. – David Bowling Feb 3 '18 at 13:32
  • I agree with @DavidBowling. To me it seems that minor keys are not sad because of the minor tonic triad, but because of the emotive effect of the lowered 6th scale degree and chords built on it (especially vii°7). – Remy Feb 3 '18 at 15:46
  • 2
    @foreyez this is a music Q&A site. While not all questions on the site are completely black and white, we focus of the objective question and questions that are purely subjective are closed as such. Please review the site tour and the FAQ. – Dom Feb 3 '18 at 22:03

Chords don't work that way. Imagine asking which notes are sad or romantic or whatever. That clearly doesn't make sense because it's not a note that gives a feeling, it's the combination of the notes, how and when they are played, what instruments they are played on, etc.

The same thing is true with chords. Even a chord progression is not a large enough structure to be tied to one specific emotion. You have to get close to a complete musical phrase with whatever melody and harmony and articulation before most listeners will feel something related to that phrase.


Don't think of it as what chords. Because the only difference between a major chord and another major chord is one just sounds higher or lower in pitch than the other. But they're the same intervals so they sound the same.

The difference between minor and major though is significant as you mentioned minor does sound sadder than major. But if we compare one minor chord to another minor chord as mentioned before it's just a difference in pitch as the intervals are the same.

Emotions are mainly triggered by sets of chords and the overall key of the song rather than one specific chord. If I were you I wouldn't focus so much on chords, rather scales/keys.

But romance can be either thought of as happy or sad. If you're talking about a breakup definitely minor key (Greensleeves is an example). but if it's the start of a new relationship and has more optimism then go for a major key (see Love me Tender by Elvis)

The most romantic song I can think of is Romance d'amour. I think it captures well the sadness that people associate with romance and hence its in a minor key.

note: that said, there are plenty of romantic love songs written in major keys (ask Elvis and the Beatles). so it's more of a subjective thing. To me I just get moved more by minor keys. They definitely sound sadder and more mysterious to me.

But to directly answer your question music is just made up of major (happy) and minor (sad). It's how you combine these to create other emotions.

  • 1
    Major != happy and Minor != sad. A counter example is "The Horah" which is a very happy celebration song in a minor key with minor harmony. A lot of this is cultural and is in the ears of the beholder so saying anything in music directly translates to any emotion is nearly impossible. – Dom Feb 3 '18 at 22:08
  • Horah is based on klezmer music which is primarily in minor keys. But they play it in an upbeat fashion that's different. If you slow it down, then ofcourse minor chords can sound very sad. and as a whole, if we take a minor chord and a major chord the minor chord will sound sadder to people.. – foreyez Feb 3 '18 at 22:14
  • 1
    And I'm not trying to say what emotions you get when you listen to something, but you seem to be saying it's ok to make this assumption that other may not have as an objective answer. This is why the question was closed, anyone can come up with any answer to this question and it's valid (at least to them) and wont be for others. And your follow up comment is not true at all. There's no "universal truth" there as culture is a huge influence on someone's emotional perception of these things. – Dom Feb 3 '18 at 22:16

To answer your question, I took the time to examine the top love songs of all time (from popular American radio anyway).

The key and therefore most significant chord of each of the top 20 (and this is subjective, I know) are:

Endless Love by Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross – A

The Greatest Love Of All by Whitney Houston – A

My Love by Paul McCartney and Wings – Bb7+

When A Man Loves A Woman by Percy Sledge – C

Silly Love Songs by Paul McCartney and Wings - C

Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers – C

I Want To Know What Love Is by Foreigner – Dm

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen – D

I Can’t Stop Loving You by Ray Charles – D

Love Me Tender by Elvis Presley – D

Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin – D

I Love You Just The Way You Are by Billy Joel – D

(Your Love Lifted Me) Higher and Higher by Jackie Wilson – D

How Deep Is Your Love by The Bee Gees – Eb

Your Song by Elton John – Eb

Love Me Do by The Beatles – G

You Make Loving Fun by Fleetwood Mac – G

I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston – G

Why Do Fools Fall In Love by Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers – G

So, the short answer is 'D'.

'G' comes a close second.

And apparently 'F' isn't a romantic chord at all.

  • 2
    This answer seems to rely on at least two premises I greatly disagree with: First, it seems to implicitly claim these songs would no longer sound romantic if they were transposed. Second, it disregards everything but key - are you claiming that all the rest of the structure is irrelevant? It just seems that this answer suggests that the way to write music with a romantic feeling is to do whatever you want in a major scale, then transpose it to D. Although the question is surely subjective, this is certainly not a correct assertion, but appears to be the main thrust of the answer. – Milo Brandt Feb 3 '18 at 21:19
  • I agree with the letter of your disagreement, but not the spirit. We can't go back in time and un-hear music that had moved us. The reality is that, years after 1st hearing it, we may find it in a club or wedding setting, but played and sung in a different key. (To make the song more singable or more easily playable.) My posting was admittedly two-dimensional; List popular romantic love songs, note the key in which they were originally recorded, and then tally the frequency of a given key. But it offers an answer that is at least quantifiable and repeatable, if not all that defendable. – Sparquelito Feb 3 '18 at 21:33
  • 3
    This answer is very misleading. It's not quantifiable or repeatable as you are taking one of many elements to these song and saying "it's the only thing that matters when determining this factor" which is completely backwards. It's like saying to make your car faster, paint it blue because the last 10 races you watched blue cars placed in first. There is data there, but there's more to it and you have to consider the negative cases like all the songs in D that aren't romantic like "All Apologies" by Nirvana. – Dom Feb 3 '18 at 22:36
  • You misread my posting, good sir. I did not say that the key of a song is the only thing that matters when determining whether it's going to trigger a romantic feeling. I simply posted the titles and original keys of 20 top romantic/love songs, and tallied the scores. It's quantifiable by the very definition, and it's certainly repeatable, since that list of songs is unlikely to change itself. It's folly for you and I to argue over this, by the way. The original question was highly subjective, and lent itself to 'opinion' based responses. – Sparquelito Feb 3 '18 at 22:48
  • 2
    Just like the "faster blue cars" example I listed, you are cherry picking data and focusing in on a small part of it to get your result hence the not "quantifiable or repeatable". Someone else can pick a different set of song they deem more romantic and get a different result so regardless of if the question is subjective or not this isn't evidence of anything. In a repeatable experiment, new data from an independent source confirms the results of the original. – Dom Feb 3 '18 at 23:00

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.