The ii, iii, and vi Chords

Songwriting 101

Person playing a guitar
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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.

Therefore, 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.

Below is a table where 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 C Dm - Em - Am
Key of D Em - F#m - Bm
Key of E F#m - G#m - C#m
Key of F Gm - Am - Dm
Key of G Am - Bm - Em
Key of A Bm - C#m - ​F#m
Key of B C#m - D#m - G#m
Key of Db Ebm - Fm - Bbm
Key of Eb Fm - Gm - Cm
Key of Gb Abm - Bbm - Ebm
Key of Ab Bbm - Cm - Fm
Key of Bb Cm - Dm - Gm

Watch Now: Playing Minor Chords on the Bass