How do you make a minor chord into a major chord? I can't seem to find any information online for this. Just learning music for the first time so i'm pretty clueless

  • Unrelated: Based on the question and username, I doubt that OP meant this, but this is a pretty fundamental question of Riemannian Analysis. I like 12-tone's video on what I'm talking about, for those not afraid of more advanced theory: youtu.be/_VxN4rnOpho – user45266 May 1 '19 at 4:48
  • @user45266:Good link! – Albrecht Hügli May 1 '19 at 5:59
  • @throwaway: did you mean only the minor and major triads or any minor and major chords built of any minor and major intervals? that means minor 3rds and 7ths, 9ths etc.? – Albrecht Hügli May 1 '19 at 12:23

To a beginner it can be confusing. Understanding even what a chord is!

To a lot of us, a basic chord - the one most used in music - is called a triad. It contains (no surprise) three notes. Let's take a scale. C major will do. C D E F G A B C.The triad that makes up C major chord is 1,3 and 5 of that scale. So, C E G are the notes making up C major.

Let's now consider the C minor scale (the first 5 notes will suffice). C D E♭ F G. Again, using the 1, 3 and 5, we have C E♭ G. The difference is the middle note. In C minor, it's E♭, and to get C major, that note is raised by a semitone, making it E.

It can be confusing in other keys, so let's look at D. D minor has D E F G A at the scale beginning, so Dm chord is D F A. D major has D E F♯ G A, making 1 3 and 5 D F♯ A. Again, the minor 3rd note is changed for the note a semitone higher (from the major scale), and F changes to F♯. D>F♯ is called a major 3rd, for reasons given earlier in this answer.

As Albrecht points out in his answer, major refers to the larger interval between notes 1 and 3, whereas minor refers to the slightly smaller interval between 1 and m3 in the minr scale. Erroneously, some think of major as more important, and minor less so. Not so - it's down to size.

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What does minor/major mean?

Always try to understand the etymology and the roots of terms.

Looking up wikipedia they explain that major means large and minor small. This makes me assume that in English beginners of music are not always taught or later they aren’t aware that this is concerning the lower third of a triad. In German we would call these thirds big (major) and small (minor).

A major chord is a triad built on a root tone, a large third and a small third. Together they build a perfect fifth.

To get a minor chord you simply have to “lower” the middle tone of the triad 135 by adding flat (b3) or solving a sharp (#3) the latter into a natural third. By this third 1 - 3 becomes small and 3 - 5 will be large:

Now we have triad built by a minor third (below) and a major third (above).

Now I see I‘ve explained the opposite that you have asked. Never mind! Just do the opposite - reverse process - by raising the middle tone of the triad and you‘ll get a mjor chord from a minor.

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You have to understand that a minor triad is made of the first (root of the chord), flattened third and perfect fifth notes. The tonic chord in a minor scale, accordingly, would comprise of the 1st, 3rd, & 5th degrees of the minor scale (E.g. the chord Cm is [C Eb G], derived from the key of C minor: [C D Eb F G A♭ B♭ C]).

To make a minor chord into a major chord, you can find the third note and raise it a semitone back to being the third note of the major scale i.e. Eb (of C minor) raised by a semitone would become E natural. This gives the C major triad (chord), which will be C E G.

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  • 1
    Problem with the 1st sentence. 'Flattened third note' - of what? OP obviously doesn't understand major, so it's somewhat meaningless. Then what does 'flatten' mean to a beginner? What happens in the case of a key with , say, F# as 3rd? We may know, but would OP? – Tim May 1 '19 at 6:06
  • That’s what I found. It has to do with the latin root of terms. – Albrecht Hügli May 1 '19 at 6:45

The short, concise version is that you raise the third note by a half step (semitone). Do the opposite to change it back to minor.

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As for seventh chords, making a minor into major requires you to substitute both the b3 and b7 to respectively 3 and 7.

For instance:


When substituting only the third or seventh we get other chords:


m7 1-b3-5-b7
mM7 1-b3-5-7

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  • 1
    it looks as if someone thinks you did misunderstand the question. Perhaps someone who thinks all others understood it right. – Albrecht Hügli May 1 '19 at 12:21
  • I didn't down vote it but I think your first statement is incorrect. Dom7 and Maj7 are both "maj" chords. No need to raise both the 3rd and 7th to get Maj from Min, or vice verse. We have min(maj7) chords too. The 3rd is what characterizes the Maj vs. min character of a chord, the rest are extensions, each sounding different. – ggcg May 1 '19 at 14:04
  • I wouldn't worry about the downvote; it's fine. Besides, your rep can't be lower than one, so it doesn't even affect you! – user45266 May 1 '19 at 15:17
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    Downvoted because you haven't really answered the question. OP is a complete beginner, so 7th chords wouldn't be in the remit. Plus the 1st sentence isn't really accurate, but misleading. No, it wasn't me who dvd, there's little point in situations like this. Comments work better. And - what's a major or minor 5..? – Tim May 1 '19 at 16:33

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