Certainly, when looking at it a certain way, you could say there are a heck of a lot of chords. While it would certainly be valuable to learn as many as you can and to absorb as many as possible into your repertoire to enhance your abilities in all aspects of ukulele musicianship, there are some that are more important than others.
Being the relative minor of the oft heralded centre of western tonality C Major, the A minor ukulele chord wouldn’t be a bad place to start, and would in fact make a pretty great point of entry if you are seeking to learn your first minor chord on the ukulele.
Just as the open strings in standard tuning almost entirely form an integral part of the C major chord, with the addition of the ring finger on the 3rd fret of the highest pitched string of course, so too can the A minor ukulele chord be sounded out in just as simple a fashion, making it a perfect chord to grapple with for a beginner, adding colour and flavour to your repertoire with very minimal effort.
Thus your song writing capabilities and compositional flex will be duly enhanced, as well as your improvisational bravura, with the mere addition of this most simple of chords.
What Makes A Minor Ukulele Chord?
As is the case for all minor triads by the definition of the western classical tradition, the A minor ukulele chord is built from three of the scale degrees of its respective minor scale.
First we begin with the root note, easily sourced in the notation of the chord, in this instance A. Even if the main notes of the chord are from another place from the root, this will be noted in the outlining of the chord. For example, if you were to play a C chord with a root note of G, playing this G as the lowest pitch in the chord, then you would simply notate it as a C/G: the main body of the chord noted first, followed by the root note variant.
Secondly, we take the perfect 5th of the triad, which can be easily ascertained if you play the root note on the E string (the second lowest string in terms of altitude), then figure out the note two frets up on the string below, the A string. This very same perfect 5th will be doing the exact same job in a major triad, too, which is what lends the much heralded power chord its eponymous power; there is a potent tonal ambiguity that, far from muddying the mix, actually sheds the weight of western tonality and renders it deft of foot.
Finally, we simply find the minor 3rd amidst all of this. On a fretted instrument such as the ukulele, the minor 3rd of an A minor ukulele chord will be 3 frets above the root note in pitch, and so can be easily worked out in this way. Since the A minor ukulele chord and the C major ukulele chord are so closely related, the former being the relative minor of the latter, they both involve a large number of the open strings, which you will soon see…
How to Play the A Minor Ukulele Chord
As with any chord on the ukulele, piano, guitar, or otherwise, A minor ukulele chord can be played in several different positions, some more useful than others depending on the contexts which they are being used in and how far away they are to the position your hands are currently in on the fretboard.
An unwritten rule that it would be useful to comply with is utilizing your first finger in the first fret, second finger in the second fret, third finger in the third fret, and fourth finger in the fourth fret, if purely for being a big help with chord transitioning and the development of stronger fingers and consistency between chords.
A Minor Ukulele Chord: Root Position
Since the A minor ukulele chord and the C major ukulele chord are so closely related, the former being the relative minor of the latter, they both involve a large number of the open strings. See them both as captured in the diagrams below and compare for yourselves…
So, there you have it, a hopefully comprehensive enough guide for you aspiring ukulele enthusiasts and virtuosos to get your teeth stuck into, to give your all to.
The magic of these kind of instruments that seek to democratise the plane of music and even the playing field is that there is still plenty of room for you to make it your own, so approach this world with the intention of either making your own mark on it or simply crafting your own world within it so that you aren’t just following the footsteps of others.
FAQs A Minor Ukulele Chord
With love and kindness… For real though, it’s likely one of the easiest chords you can play on the ukulele. Much like the C major, the A minor ukulele chord can be sounded by playing almost all of the open strings, though with the difference that instead of playing the 3rd fret of the A string as is the case for the C major, you simply play the 2nd fret of the G string, leaving all of the other strings to sound for themselves. This simplicity is by no means a comment on how useful it can be through ukulele music, or perhaps it is…
Contrary to the relative simplicity of the A minor ukulele chord and to how closely related the two chords might seem, this is actually a little harder. Owing to the way the ukulele is tuned, you can’t in fact rely on the open strings in anywhere near the same way, so you will have to use a radically different shape.
This shape resembles far more an A major 7th barre shape as played on a guitar, so both would be pretty useful to learn at this point, as there are plenty of parallels.
Major and minor chords are the same in just about every instrument, as least as far as the western classical canon is concerned. The only aspect that is specific to the ukulele in this regard is purely the chord shapes, though I’ve no doubt that there will be certain parallels in major and minor chord shapes between the ukulele and other four stringed instruments, like the banjo, or the mandolin etc etc.
As with any other stringed instrument like this, especially the guitar, all of the shapes you learn are easily transposable, especially if you barre them. The A minor ukulele chord is no exception. Simply moving up three frets so that the highest string G is fretting the root C, and then using the index finger to fret the entire 3rd fret, you will have in your hands a brand spanking new C minor chord for the ukulele, ready for a test drive.