The Cm chord on the guitar

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How to play the open position Cm chord and CAGED Cm shape

This is the 9th video in this series about guitar chords which is all about how to play the so-called CAGED chords.

The first video was an overview, we then had the five major CAGED chords, followed by the F and B chords.

These next seven videos are about minor chords. We start here with the open position Cm chord. This chord is almost impossible to play in its full shape as you see here in the Chordacus image.

Open position Cm chord and Cm shaped chord.
Cm chord/shape

The way around this dilemma is to find our fractions. There are two possibilities.

  1. You can play just strings 3-5. This is technically a Cm chord, we play the root, the m3rd, and the 5th. But it doesn’t sound that great, we don’t use it that much, it’s a bit muddy.
  2. We can also play strings 2-4. It’s a bit weird here in the open position, but, by moving it up the fretboard, we get my favourite minor chord shape.

Once we extend the Cm chord/shape things get easier so let’s look at this next.

Cm chord extensions

Here are all possible extensions we can have in the Cm shape. If you can visualize the intervals around the shape, you can build all these chords.

  • Cm chord (root, m3rd, 5th, root)
  • Cm7 (root, m3rd, b7, root)
  • Cm7b5 (root, b7, m3rd, b5)
  • Cmmaj7 (root, m3rd, 5th, 7)
  • Cm9 (root, m3rd, b7, 9)
  • Cm6 (root, m3rd, 6, root)
  • Cm11 (root, b7, 9, 11)

You need song examples to learn all these Cm-shaped chords. You must experience them in context.

A great example is Roxanne by The Police. As an acoustic version, the first chord of the verse works well using a Cm shape.

Another example we find is in Robbie William’s Angels. During the solo, you play an open position Bm11, in a Cm shape.

The only actual open position Cm chord I know of in a song is Creepin’ In by Norah Jones.

Building scales and arpeggios around the Cm chord/shape

There are more things you can do to the Cm shape. We can turn it into a:

Below are all the intervals used to build these arpeggios and scales around the Cm-shaped chord.

If you can see all the intervals around the chord shape, you can play all these arpeggios and scales.

Even though the basic Cm chord shape is impossible to play, you still must learn to visualize it so you can use it to play fractions, as an extended chord as well as all these arpeggios and modes.

Out of all the contradictions the guitar brings, the Cm shape is my favourite.

All possible minor arpeggio and scale intervals using the CAGED system

The Cm Chord | Related Pages

Guitar chords

Learn all guitar chords using the CAGED system.

You can learn how to build all minor and major guitar chords using the so-called CAGED system.

This is the foundation upon which we learn to extend chords and build arpeggios and modes as well.

The C chord

Open position C chord, barre chord shape and extensions

One of the first chords we learn on the guitar is the easy-to-fret and play open-position C chord.

Representing the beginning of the CAGED system, you’ll release the C chord’s full potential when you make it a moveable shape and identify all intervals.

Intermediate Acoustic

None of the Intermediate Acoustic Songs have a Cm chord.

Most intermediate acoustic tunes can’t be played using just basic open-position chords. We have to move up the fretboard and play CAGED barre chords as well.

We incorporate bass lines, add licks, extend chords, and play vocal melodies. Most importantly, we’ll invent second guitar parts and play these songs together.

About me

Dan Lundholm wrote this article about the Cm chord.

This article on the Cm chord was written by Dan Lundholm. Discover more about him and how learning guitar with Spytunes has evolved.

Most importantly, find out why you should learn guitar through playing tunes, not practising scales, and studying theory in isolation.


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