Chords: Seventh Chords You Gotta Know

A Seventh Chord is typically a four-note chord that includes some kind of 7 in its chord structure.  Here is a gallery of the five most commonly-encountered…

Major Seventh (chord symbol = Cmaj7, CM7, or CΔ7, chord structure = 1-3-5-7)

A great way to develop your chord vocabulary is to relate new chords to chords you already know. For example, notice that Cmaj7 is a C major triad (something you already know) plus one more note: B.

piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-major-seventh-notation

piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-major-seventh-keyboard

Listen… and notice the colorful, sweet, dissonant, jazzy quality of the major 7 chord compared to the major triad…

FYI, the Major Seventh chord is most often used in two ways:

  • Tonic Imaj7 chord in a major tonality.
  • Tension chord (examples: IVmaj7 in major tonality or bVImaj7 in minor tonality)

You will learn lots more about chord functions when you study chord progressions.


Minor Seventh (Cm7, Cmin7, Cmi7, or C-7, 1-b3-5-b7)

Notice that Cm7 is a C minor triad (something you already know) with one more note (Bb) added.piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-minor-seventh-notation

piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-minor-seventh-keyboard

Listen… and notice how the additional note Bb adds some color to the already dark minor triad.

FYI, the Minor Seventh chord is most often used in two ways:

  • Tonic i7 chord in a Dorian or minor blues tonality.
  • Tension chord (examples: ii7, iii7, vi7 in major tonality and iv7 in minor tonality).

You will learn lots more about chord functions when you study chord progressions.


Dominant Seventh (C7, 1-3-5-b7)

The Dominant Seventh chord is commonly called just a “7” chord for short.

Notice that C7 is a C major triad (something you already know) plus one more note: Bb.piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-dominant-seventh-notation

piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-dominant-seventh-keyboard

Listen… and notice the unstable, dissonant quality of the dominant seventh chord… like it needs to go somewhere.

FYI, the Dominant Seventh chord is most often used in two ways:

  • V7 in major tonality.
  • V7 in minor tonality.
  • I7, IV7, V7 in blues tonality.
  • secondary dominant (V7/x) in a major or blues tonality.
  • to set up a change in key center .

You will learn lots more about chord functions when you study chord progressions.


Diminished Seventh (Cdim7 or C°7: 1-b3-b5-bb7)

Notice that C°7 is a C diminished triad (something you already know) plus one more note: Bbb.
piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-diminished-seventh-notation

piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-diminished-seventh-keyboard

Notice the highly unstable, dissonant quality of the diminished seventh chord… like it needs to go somewhere:

FYI, the Diminished Seventh chord functions like a dominant seventh chord. It typically acts in either of three ways:

  • viio7 in a minor tonality.
  • secondary dominant viio7/x.
  • Tension chord that sets up a change in key center, typically to a minor tonality.

You will learn lots more about chord functions when you study chord progressions.


Half-Diminished Seventh (C∅7 or Cm7b5: 1-b3-b5-b7)

Notice that this is a C diminished triad (something you already know) with one more note (Bb) added.piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-half-diminished-seventh-notation

piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-half-diminished-seventh-keyboard

Notice the unstable, dissonant quality of the half-diminished seventh chord…

FYI, the Half-Diminished Seventh chord, also called a “minor seventh, flat 5”, is most often used in two ways:

  • as part of a iiø7-V7-i chord progression in a minor tonality.
  • as part of iiø7-V7 secondary dominant.

You will learn lots more about chord functions when you study chord progressions.

About Frank J Peter

A uniquely burdened and blessed citizen of the world thinking and acting out loud!
This entry was posted in Aural Comprehension, Chords, How to Read Music, Music Theory and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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