The ii, iii, and vi Chords

Songwriting 101

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You may know how to form and play the I, IV and V chords. Now, it's time learn about the ii, iii, and vi chords.

Constructing ii, iii, and vi chords

These chords are built from the 2nd, 3rd and 6th notes of a scale and are all minor chords. Note that these chords come from the same key as the I, IV and V chords. Let's take the key of D for example:

D = I
Em = ii
F#m = iii
G = IV
A = V
Bm = vi

Note that the chords built on the 2nd, 3rd and 6th notes of the key of D are Em - F#m and Bm.

Therefor the ii - iii - vi chord pattern for the key of D is:
Em (note ii) = E - G - B (1st + 3rd + 5th notes of the Em scale)
F#m (note iii) = F# - A - C# (1st + 3rd + 5th notes of the F#m scale)
Bm (note vi) = B - D - F# (1st + 3rd + 5th notes of the Bm scale)

Memorize all the minor chords for every key. If you combine these chords with the major chords that form the I - IV - V pattern your melodies will become fuller and less predictable.

As always I made a table so you can easily see the ii, iii and vi chords in every key. Clicking on the chord name will bring you to an illustration which will show you how to play each chord on a keyboard.

The ii, iii and vi Chords

Major Key - Chord Pattern
Key of CDm - Em - Am
Key of DEm - F#m - Bm
Key of EF#m - G#m - C#m
Key of FGm - Am - Dm
Key of GAm - Bm - Em
Key of ABm - C#m - F#m
Key of BC#m - D#m - G#m
Key of DbEbm - Fm - Bbm
Key of EbFm - Gm - Cm
Key of GbAbm - Bbm - Ebm
Key of AbBbm - Cm - Fm
Key of BbCm - Dm - Gm