4 Types of 7th Chords and How They Fit Into a Twelve Bar Blues

7th chords chart guitar

A 7th chord adds a whole new layer to chord progressions. Here, we explore four types of seventh chords and their implementation into twelve-bar blues chord progressions.

These chords, or seventh chords, consist of three triads with an added major or minor seventh tone and can be found across many genres of music including blues.

Major 7th

Major 7th chords (often abbreviated as “maj7”) are simply regular major triads with one additional note added on top. This gives it a more romantic sound compared to dominant seventh chords; you’ll often hear these chords used in jazz, rock and other musical genres; an example would be Tadd Dameron’s Lady Bird tune as one example of these chords being used.

To play a maj7 chord, begin by looking at your root note. From there, find its interval on the major scale; if it is C then that chord is considered maj7. Repeat this process with other chords to discover their quality; remembering to practice each of its voicings before moving onto other types of chords will enable you to make better choices when choosing which ones to incorporate into your music compositions.

Minor 7th

Minor seventh chords (abbreviated as m7 in chord names) produce a mournful sound that adds some depth and melody to your playing. They consist of three notes stacked: root, lower third, and fifth note.

Most m7 chords are open shapes that you can play fingerstyle and/or strummed, although there are also barre chords with x symbols for those strings that should not be barred (that is, you shouldn’t press down on them).

Sometimes combining minor seventh chords with other seven-note chords to form more complex music can produce beautiful harmony effects. Irving Berlin’s jazz classic Blue Skies uses such combinations; for instance, its melody includes one featuring both minor seventh and major seventh tones as well as an augmented fifth note! These combinations can produce stunning results!

Dominant 7th

The dominant seventh chord is an effective fingering pattern for developing bass thumb strength and rhythm skills. Its open position is easier to play than its close positions, and all six strings can be strung at once with it.

This chord typically produces a bluesy and powerful sound while drawing listeners toward its tonic chord to resolve. The Rolling Stones famously used this chord in their classic song (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.

To create a dominant seventh chord, simply extend a major triad by adding its major 7th scale degree – for instance an E Major triad uses root, major 3rd, and perfect fifth to create its voicing, then simply add in an E major 7th for extra complexity and it becomes known as an E Dominant chord.

Half Diminished 7th

As its name implies, a half diminished 7th chord contains notes that are one semitone below each other; these make up a triad that forms 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th intervals from a major scale.

This chord quality stands out in its own unique way and has its own name: minor 7 flat 5. Essentially a diminished triad with an altered fifth note lowered by halftone, minor 7 flat 5 is composed of a perfect seventh interval that has been diminished by an amount equivalent to halftone interval reduction.

This chord can often be found as a chromatic passing chord preceding the dominant function chord in a major key, for instance as seen in F#o7 – C#dim7 – Edim7 progressions. Furthermore, they’re commonly found as subdominant function chords such as F#dim7 – G7 – C#m7 variations.

Barre 7th

A barre chord is formed when your index finger bars across all six strings, then uses this barre with other fingers to form different chords across and down the fretboard. Mastering this technique takes time, but once learned you can move confidently along your fretboard.

To play a major barre chord with its root on the fifth string, bar with your index finger before using your ring, middle, and pinky fingers to complete it. Be mindful not to allow any sixth string ringing; otherwise you will create dissonant sounds.

To play a minor barre chord, use the same major barre shape without finger 4 (pinky). Strum these bars and adjust your hand so as to avoid buzzing frets.