F-sharp minor and G-flat minor are both names for the same series of tones. If this tone series is written as G-flat minor we have to use nine flats, which really clutters up the space in front of the clefs and makes it hard to figure out what the notes are (e.g., Bbb is actually an A, but you don’t want to have to stop playing to figure that out).
We musicians are a stoic lot, but this kind of pointless complication isn’t our cup of Earl Grey, which is why you’ll probably never see this key signature, ever, unless you Google it. (True, if you type “Gbm” into Uberchord’s chord finder you’ll see a chord, but you’ll notice that the chord’s notes are named F#, A, and C#— not Gb, Bbb, and Db as they would be written in the key of G-flat minor.)
The F-sharp minor key signature is comparatively simple, with only three sharps just like its relative major, A major, which is also easy to figure out. This is why today we’re going to leave G-flat minor on the shelf to gather dust and just talk about F-sharp minor.
A Classical Rarity
In the classical world the key of F-sharp minor is a rarity. The only famous symphony written in this key is Haydn’s Farewell Symphony. Handel and Mozart only touched the key on occasion.
We’ll be looking at F-sharp minor ‘s history and its use in popular music and whether or not it’s hard to play it on the guitar. We’ll also jam through a few F-sharp minor songs and chord progressions.
We hope you’re not yet tired of the “doom and gloom” keys, because here’s another one. F-sharp minor differs from last week’s E-flat/D-sharp minor in that in addition to being in despair, it insists on dragging you down with it. The resentment felt by F-sharp minor won’t go off and rot by itself; it insists that you look at it, listen to its tale of woe, and do something about it.
The F# Minor Chord Position on the Guitar: Just One Fret Up From F Minor
The F# minor chord position is the same as the basic F minor chord position; it’s just one fret up. This basic chord shape, like the F bar chord position, can be played all the way up the neck to make other minor chords, and because it’s a bar chord stretching across all six strings, it works at every fret without having to mute a string. It’s not the easiest chord to play, but when you master it, it does produce rather a nice sound.
If you can’t do bar chords yet, just play the top four strings and leave the two bass strings mute. If you want a high sound, use the basic D minor chord position at the fifth fret (you can bar the fourth fret with your index finger if you want to use all the strings). If you’re still struggling, don’t hesitate to use your Uberchord app to help you improve your tone and timing and to try out new rhythms and strumming techniques.
(If you have a hard time getting chords down, read our five great tips on how to learn new chords.)
Theory and Practice: The Pattern of the F-Sharp Minor Scale Explained
The pitches in the key of F-sharp minor are F#, G#, A, B, C#, D, and E.
This is the F-sharp minor scale, with an F# at its root, another F# halfway up, and another F#, two octaves up, at its high point.
The basic F# minor chord, which forms the root of the F-sharp minor scale, contains the notes F#, A, and C#— the first, third, and fifth notes of the key of F-sharp minor. On the guitar, using the basic F# minor chord position shown in the diagram above, these notes arrive in this order: F#, C#, F#, A, C#, F#.
Chords and Common Chord Progressions in the Key of F-Sharp Minor
Below you’ll find every chord in the key of F-sharp minor (all chords major unless stated otherwise):
I. F# minor
II. G# diminished
IV. B minor
V. C# minor
The following are a few common chord progressions in the key of F-sharp minor.
- (Most common) I — IV—V—I: F# minor — B minor — C# minor — F# minor
- I — V — VI — IV: F# minor — C# minor — D — B minor
- I — VI — IV — V: F# minor — D — B minor — C# minor
- I – V – VI – III – IV – I – IV – V: F# minor – C# minor – D – A – B minor – F# minor – B minor – C# minor
- (Blues) I – I – I – I – IV – IV – I – I – V – V – I – I: F# minor – F# minor – F# minor – F# minor – B minor – B minor – F# minor – F# minor – C# minor – C# minor – F# minor – F# minor
- II – IV – V: G# diminished – B minor – C# minor
- I – IV – V – IV: F# minor – B minor – C# minor – B minor
- V – IV – I: C# minor – B minor – F# minor
- VI – IV – I – V: D – B minor – F# minor – C# minor
“Tighten Up,” by The Black Keys
Popular Songs in the Key of F-Sharp: Yankin’ Yer Heart Around
As we said at the beginning, the key of F-sharp delivers a furious despair that demands company.
Daft Punk – Get Lucky
Oasis – Wonderwall
Sam Smith – Safe With Me
Guns N Roses – Paradise City
Make F-sharp minor part of your postmodern punk disenchantment repertoire. You won’t regret it.