Simple Keyz - Primary and Secondary Chords

Learn Primary and Secondary Chords

Let me introduce you to Primary and Secondary chords.

But before I do, I’ll share a similar concept with colours that correlates with how chords work in music.

If you’ve ever taken art in school, I’m sure you would have heard of Primary and Secondary colors.

I’m going to show you how colours can also relate to music.

In art, the three Primary colors are:
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Yellow


Primary Colors


I’m sure it’s coming back to you now. 

You should know that from just these three colours, we can make up all the other available hues of colour — that is why they are called ‘Primary’.

There are also Secondary colors that are created when you merge the Primary colours with each other.

These colors are: 

  • Green
  • Purple
  • Orange

Secondary Colors

These three colors (Green, Purple, and Orange) are often referred to as the Subtractive Primary colors or ‘Secondary’ colors.

Now when you merge these three Secondary colours they produce black.

Here’s the interesting part about all this.

Much like the color wheel has three Primary colours, well music has three Primary Major chords.

The color wheel has three Secondary colours, well music also has three Secondary Minor chords.

When you combine the three subtractive colors this forms the color black (which is the absence of color). The last Secondary chord is a Diminished chord.

Now, if you know anything about Diminished chords, they have a lot of tension and they don’t sound pretty — they have a dark sound.

Now if you can take this example of colours, it will help you understand Primary and Secondary chords in music a lot better.

Let’s create some formulas to help us remember the Primary and Secondary chords in music.

Primary chords are the 1st, 4th, and 5th tones of every Major scale. These chords are naturally Majors.

In our guide to Master Chords, Major chords are generally happy sounding and will be predominant in most songs.

Secondary chords are the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th tones.

The 2nd, 3rd, 6th tones are naturally Minors.

Minor chords have a serious or mellow feel.

The 7th tone is a Diminished chord, which can also be considered a Secondary chord.

So here’s an even easier way to chunk this information.


Primary and Secondary Chords

If you want get a better understanding of chords, specifically primary and secondary, I'd highly recommend grabbing our guide on mastering progressions to get a more in depth look. 

Until next time! 

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1 comment

Any talk music videos?


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