You can’t get a lower chord on your six string than the E minor (Em). It’s a heavyweight that demands and deserves attention and it’s an inspiration for musicians in every genre, because it possesses an almost infinite number of possibilities. Below you’ll find five songs that honor the diversity of this triad.
The E minor is part of the Em scale, that consists of the pitches E, F#, G, A, B, C and D. Don’t be afraid, we’re not going to bore you with difficult theories. The pitches serve as a mental note, to show that the songs in Em often contain the chords that derive from the scale they’re in.
Livin’ on a Prayer – Jon Bon Jovi
Livin’ on a Prayer by the New Jersey band Bon Jovi is a classic from the ’80s. It’s also their first song to hit the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. The track was released in 1986 on the record Slippery When Wet and to this day it’s one of Bon Jovi’s most famous songs.
Looking at the chord progression we see that the whole song consists of four chords, namely the Em, C, D, and G. There’s an interesting thing happening at the end, where the band transposes the chorus to a G minor chord. That’s why you see the same intervals but played higher. You don’t have to do this in a jam. Stick to the normal progression and it’s likely that nobody will notice. But it never hurts to try.
I’d Rather Be with You – Bootsy Collins
I’d Rather Be with You by funk legend Bootsy Collins transmits a completely different vibe than Livin’ on a Prayer. The 1976 track is one of the most sampled songs in hip-hop. For example, 2Pac, Eazy-E and even Beyoncé used the song in their tracks.
The funk classic produced by Bootsy Collins and George Clinton is built around an interesting bass line. The foundation of the track is made up of the chords E, Em, A, Am, C, D and G. The transition from minor to major may seem strange, but in funk it’s common to play around with the third, because it adds punch to the groove.
Nights in White Satin – Moody Blues
Well it seems that the chord of the week has turned into a list of classics, so why not throw in another epic song like Nights in White Satin by the British band The Moody Blues. The song appeared on the 1967 album Days of Future Passed and it’s about the silk sheets that front man Justin Hayward got from a friend. The song is radiating unrequited love and desire.
The track is written in Em and the chord is also dominantly present alternating with D, A, C, G and F. In the bridge where the famous fluit solo can be heard we hear a transition to B, Am and B7. In your own jam you could choose to leave this part out.
Losing Your Mind – Raury and Jaden Smith
The song gathered fame as a title on the soundtrack of the Netflix series The Get Down. At first sight Losing Your Mind, written by Raury and Jaden Smith, doesn’t fit in our list of Em classics, or does it? You are right, the version used in The Get Down is a new track, but its inspiration comes from the hit Vitamin C from 1972 which was written by the German krautrock band CAN. Now that’s a classic.
The original chord progression doesn’t differ that much from the remix by Jaden Smith and Raury. We encounter the same trick that Bootsy Collins used, where he switched between thirds. This is not surprising as this track has a funky vibe and the bass line plays a leading role. We could argue that the composition is more about rhythm than about melody. Try it out for yourself.
Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
One of the most famous ballads from the nineties is perhaps Nothing Else Matters by Metallica. The track made so much impact that the band decided to re-release the track in 1999 in collaboration with a classical music orchestra.
The song contains a lot of technical strumming, but can ultimately be reduced to a few basic chords. The verse consists mainly of Em, C, D, G and the chorus of C, D and A. Therefore, this track is a perfect addition to your setlist. If you’re an advanced guitar player, try out some strumming. Otherwise, just stick to the chords. Happy jamming!