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What Are Some Chords That Sound Sad on Guitar?

The music produced by a guitar always evokes deep emotions, and it can stir happiness and excitement in the listener.

Surprisingly, some chords can arouse nothing but melancholy.

Instead of romantic or sappy moments, some chords automatically induce painful and even painful memories because the music sounds sad when played on a guitar.

Other instruments produce the chords equally the same but without sounding sad.

The culprit for this is most likely dissonance, and this is how we automatically interpret the sound we hear as sad. 

Note that not all chords that create dissonance have the same effect, and an example would be sus2 chords would sound almost pitiful while sus4 chords promote a jubilant and celebratory feeling. 

Here are other chords that sound sad when played on a guitar:

Minors

Conventionally, any chord that you play in the minor key instantly makes it sad.

Minor chords provoke tension, instability, and disorder stirring unhappy emotions.

When you play a straightforward progression in the major key, for example, E major-B major-A major, and shift it to a sweet-sounding minor key, the previous happy-sounding music promptly turns sad and depressing.

If you are doubtful, give it a try by playing any major key, then playing it in the minor key, and your ears and heart will prove that every chord you play becomes sorrowful.

Some chords may be more apparent than the others, like Dm is gloomier than an F sharp minor.

 

Major 7th

It is a little expected that minor seventh is automatically sad because it already has a minor integrated.

But aside from that gloomy sound, Major 7th also has that unique anguish in it that can leave you feeling down and blue.

 

Dsus4

Your personal interpretation of a sound is greatly influenced by culture.

It dictates a mindset wherein in Western culture, the minor keys are always associated with sad tunes while major to happier ones. 

And most sad music would always include a Dsus4 in its progression.

 

Cmaj7

As a barre chord, Cmaj7 will go upwards and downwards the neck and with the main note focused on the designated A string, and if your guitar fingering skills are not yet up to this, you can opt to produce the much open C and remove your finger from the B string.

This version, often referred to as the open version, makes a better option because it achieves a perfect combination and balance between open strings and fretted notes.

Similar to using sus2, the chord major 7 also has a sad response with the base. 

The minor seven chords automatically turn sad due to the minor and primarily the troublesome 7 overriding the same source.

The Cmaj7 can be considered as one of the saddest chords ever played on a guitar.

 

Em

Usually used for acoustic music, this chord awakens an emotion that generally starts good but eventually can leave you thinking and reminiscing and, in the end, makes you sad.

This chord only uses two fingers and is a staple in every guitarist’s resource. 

Here’s our guide on how to play Em chord.

 

Am7

Sad chords can also be dark chords, and dark means low, reverberating, and deep.

To produce a gloomy chord, it is essential that you retain your voicings directed towards the fingerboard’s lower end.

An E minor 7 played at the 12th guitar fretboard will produce a slightly different tune than precisely the identical chord produced with open strings because if the chord is played with open strings, expect the music output to be unhappy.

Also, approaching your chords complicatedly influences the way it sounds.

You’ll be surprised how, from sad, the chords transition to a more complex emotion.

It goes from sad to deeply sad to something almost unexplainable, but you’re left with a feeling of gloom.

Ninth chords are complicated because it challenges all your fingers to depress a note and as such, this can express the best sadness ever in playing the guitar. 

Add in a 7th in a true 9th chord, and it can be too overwhelming to listen to without shedding a tear or feeling broken afterward. 

Here’s our guide on how to play Am chord.

 

Sus

In popular music, sus chords are short for suspended chords, and the sus4 and sus2 chords are the basic ones.

In a sus4 chord or sometimes referred to as “sus,” the third is replaced by the perfect fourth of the chord, while in sus2 chord or sometimes noted as “sus9,” it is the major second that replaces the third chord. 

Despite leaving some out and applying replacements, both the sus4 and sus2 have a perfect fifth from the root to the 5th.

There are instances where applying a sus alters the music, and it becomes disheartening to listen to.

 

Emaj9

 This is one of the most satisfying sounding chords but is also one of the most complex ones.

Almost the same principle of an Am7, sadness is one of the most straightforward emotions and the easiest to invoke, and complex chords don’t partner well with sadness.

So, it is best to keep your chords simple, especially if there is zero intention to make your listeners sad.

Most guitar components follow this principle of keeping it simple by focusing on the power chords

To achieve that sad and depressing vibe, you have to steer away from these extremely simple power chords. Else you’ll have to depend on the song’s lyrics to cause your listeners to cry or feel blue by the end of your musical rendition.

 

Dm

The D minor chord is expectedly some of the guitar chords that sound sad when played on a guitar.

The minor plays a significant factor in evoking that sense of contemplation and melancholy. Like most minor chords, a Dm can produce a serious and heavy atmosphere almost to the point of being transported to a different world filled with drama.

The Dm is a contender for being the melancholiest chord.

 

Emadd9

This is another guitar chord that is deep, dark, and a little somber, with minor triads serving as their base chords. 

Another way to describe Emadd9 is being slightly eerie, causing you to reflect and reminisce, and usually, it’s the bad memories that come to mind. 

Overall, despite these chords sounding sad when played on a guitar, it is still all about context.

Even a major happy chord can cause you to feel sad depending on the music and how you play it. 

Get to know these chords more and play them yourself (or listen to them), and feel the change of emotions inside you.

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