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How to play the C minor chord on guitar

Unlock the somber sound of Radiohead's "Creep" and The Beatles' "Michelle."

The Cm chord

The Cm chord, pronounced "C minor," is a somber and melancholic chord frequently used in classical, jazz, and rock music. Notable for its haunting sound, the Cm chord consists of the notes C, E♭, and G. It often evokes feelings of sadness or introspection and can be heard in songs like "Imagine" by John Lennon and "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common C minor chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for Cm chord

The most common way to play a C minor chord on guitar is as a barre chord on the 3rd fret.

Follow these finger positions to play a C minor chord on your guitar:

  1. Use your index finger to barre all six strings at the 3rd fret.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 4th fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 5th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 5th fret of the 3rd (G) string.

To strum this chord, use your pick or thumb to play downstrokes or alternating down and up strokes across all six strings. Make sure to apply even pressure with your fretting hand to ensure all notes ring out clearly.

How to play an easy Cm chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the C minor chord, try this:

  1. Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th (D) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the 5th (A) string.
  4. Strum only these three strings.

How to play a Cm bar chord

Playing the C minor chord as a barre chord allows you to easily transition to other nearby chords and play the chord with a fuller sound compared to the open version.

Here's how to play a C minor barre chord:

  1. Place your index finger across all six strings at the 3rd fret, barring the strings.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 4th fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 5th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 5th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  5. Strum from the 5th (A) string downwards.

Common Cm chord progressions

The C minor chord is often used in progressions that evoke feelings of sadness, melancholy, and emotional intensity. Some common C minor chord progressions include:

  • i - iv - VII - III - iv - i - V - i (Cm - Fm - B♭ - E♭ - Fm - Cm - G - Cm)
  • i - VII - VI - VII (Cm - B♭ - A♭ - B♭) Used in "Creep" by Radiohead and "Losing My Religion" by R.E.M.
  • i - VI - III - VII (Cm - A♭ - E♭ - B♭) Used in "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin
  • i - iv - v - i (Cm - Fm - Gm - Cm)
  • i - iv - VII - III - VI - VII - i - V (Cm - Fm - B♭ - E♭ - A♭ - B♭ - Cm - G)

Drills to master the Cm chord

Mastering the C Minor Guitar Chord

To master the C minor chord, try practicing the chord progression Cm-Fm-Bb-Eb. This sequence allows you to switch between different chords while keeping Cm as the focal point. Alternatively, you can play a Cm arpeggio by plucking each note of the chord individually in ascending and descending order. This drill helps you memorize the notes of the chord and improves your finger dexterity.

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Songs that feature the Cm chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the C minor chord:

  1. Shape of My Heart by Sting (B♭m, A♭m, Cm, B, Gm, Fm)
  2. Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Rey (Cm, B♭, A♭, Fm)
  3. Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day (Em, G, D, A, Cm, E♭)
  4. Losing My Religion by R.E.M. (Am, Em, Dm, G, F, Am/C, Cm)
  5. Creep by Radiohead (G, B, C, Cm)
  6. Hello by Adele (Fm, A♭, E♭, Cm)
  7. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin (Am, G, F, Am/C, D/C, Cm)
  8. Nothing Else Matters by Metallica (Em, D, C, G/B, Am, C/B, Cm)
  9. Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd (Em, G, D/F#, Cm, D)
  10. Mad World by Gary Jules (Cm, B♭, A♭, B♭/F)

How a guitar teacher can help

If you feel stuck in your playing, it might help to take personalized guitar lessons with an expert guitarist. Taking lessons with a pro gives you access to the skills, feedback, and motivation to reach your goals.

You can find expert guitar teachers to support you in the journey. Thousands of people have turned to online guitar lessons on Til, instead of traditional in-person lessons, because Til gives you access to the best teachers in the world from the comfort of home. And with flexible scheduling, secure payments, lesson recordings, and a private chat with your teacher–there’s never been a better way to learn guitar.

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