Secondary Chords

In the last lesson we looked at the primary chords. These are the most common chords you will come across and are a great starting point for composing music.
Now we are going to have a look at the next most common chords you will come across and use – the secondary chords.

How to work out the Secondary Chords

Similarly to primary chords, it’s really easy to work out the secondary chords in any key – they are the triads built on notes II, III and VI.

Secondary Chords Roman Numerals
So, in C major the secondary chords are D minor (II), E minor (III) and A minor (VI).
Notice how these chords are all minor chords – these contrast with really well with the primary chords which are all major.

Let’s have a look at an example in a minor key.
In A minor the secondary chords are B diminished (II), C major (III) and F major (VI).
Again, these contrast really well with the minor primary chords.

Secondary Chords in Every Key

I want to make things easy for you guys again so I have done a table of all the secondary chords in every key for you to use:

Secondary Chords in Major Keys

Secondary Chords in Major keys

Secondary Chords in Minor Keys

Secondary Chords in Minor Keys

Composing Using Secondary Chords

Using secondary chords in addition to primary chords is a great way to take your songs/pieces onto a new level.
Once you have come up with an idea using primary chords (check out my session on composing using primary chords if you haven’t yet) then you can add some secondary chords into the mix.

Have a go experimenting – just as long as you remember to always start and end on chord I then you should be fine.
Enjoy making music!!

Ready for some more learning?

Next, we are going to have a look at Seventh Chords.