Guitar/Chord changes C-Am

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Relative minor Am


The change between C major and A minor (Am for short) is even easier than the change between G and Em.
Only one finger is moved between C major and Am.
This makes it very easy to remember that Am is the relative minor to C.

  Key G major
with minor parallels

From C to Am and back

From C to Am
  1. Index and middle fingers
    stay in place
  2. Ring finger under middle finger
  3. Done!
  From Am to C
  1. Index and middle fingers
    stay in place
  2. Ring finger pointing slanted upwards
  3. Done!


The 2-5-1 chord progression


In the key of G major, the chord C major is the subdominant. Am is the relative minor of C major, so Am is the relative subdominant.

The relative subdominant can be used very well as an announcer ("herald") of the exciting dominant.

Suppose a song contains the chord sequence D(7) G (dominant - tonic). In such a case, the relative subdominant Am very often announces the dominant D(7). You can gain momentum with the Am to D(7) in order to then end up at G again. So Am D(7) G.

If you count through the G major scale

1 2 3 4 5 6 7  8(=1)
G A H C D E F# G

then you will see that G is on the first degree, A (and Am) on the second degree and D on the fifth degree. The chord progression Am D(7) G is therefore a II-V-I chord progression (2-5-1 in Roman numerals). This chord progression occurs very frequently. It is also particularly popular as a final turn at the end of a verse, a chorus or at the end of a song, or as a transition from the end of a verse with Am D to the beginning of the next verse again with the tonic G. A chord progression, which leads back to the tonic, is a "turnaround". It's worth paying attention to this. It is always easier to memorize a whole standard chord progression than three seemingly independent chords. After a while, you will see and hear this II-V-I connection on your own.


Examples of a II-V-I chord progression

  • Killed[Am]poor Laura[D]Foster. - You know you're bound to[G]die. (Tom Dooley)
  • And I[G]never will[Am]play THE WILD[D]ROVER no[G]more
  • [Am]saying SOMETHING[D]STUPID like I[G]love you
  • and I[Am]mean it from the[D]bottom of my[G]heart (I just call to say I love you)

In the last lessons you learned the chord progression G-Em-C-D. You also learned here that C major can sometimes be replaced by Am. And you learned that Am can herald the dominant D. So just try replacing the chord progression G-Em-C-D with the chord progression G-Em-Am-D. You'll find that in most cases it works without any problems, so it will be a matter of taste later on whether you use one or the other variant.

Em - Am


Even if the chord change Em Am doesn't cause any significant problems, you can practice it several times in isolation if necessary:

  1. Lift all fingers
  2. Both fingers goes simultaneously down one fret
  3. Index finger in the correct position (same like in C major)
  4. Lift all fingers
  5. Index and middle fingers goes simultaneously up one fret.


Song Examples:

  1. 500 Miles (Hedy West) (Folksong)
  2. Tom Dooley(Folksong)
  3. The Wild Rover (Irish Folk)
  4. Acres Of Clams
  5. The Raggle Taggle Gypsies
  6. YT   Into the Night (Santana feat. Chad Kroeger) //: Am C G D ://
  7. YT   Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Guns N'Roses, Bob Dylan u.a.m.) //: G D Am Am | G D C C ://
  8. YT   It never rains in southern California (Albert Hammond) mostly Am D G G in the chorus once Am D G Em (Original: Capo 2nd fret)
  9. YT   Riptide (Vance Joy) Am G C C (The intermediate section is simply left out until the F major chord)
  10. YT   What's Up (4 Non Blondes) G G Am Am C C G G (Original: Capo 2nd fret)
  11. YT   Stumblin' in (Chris Norman, Suzi Quatro) Am D G Em

Quick Chord Change
Campfire Diploma  
Jump between Em-D and Am-G
(6) Chord changes C-Am