7 Layers of Chords

Many songwriters start out by crafting mood with chords before moving on to melody and lyrics; this approach is known as chords-first approach.

Just like triads, seventh chords are composed of multiple notes that are stacked closely together and identified by their root and quality. The lowest note serves as the root note while any subsequent notes – such as thirds, fifths or sevenths – represent generic intervals above it.

Major Triad

A major triad is composed of three notes – the root, third and fifth. The interval from root to third is called a major third (four half steps) while that between third and fifth is known as perfect fifth (7 semitones).

To form a major triad, start with the initial note in your scale – for instance C – then count up four and a half steps until reaching E, and repeat this process until reaching C, E and G as chord notes.

Create altered qualities triads like diminished and augmented. These triads feature different intervals between their roots and third or fourth notes – creating different sounds depending on which key they’re written for. An augmented triad can also be constructed the same way as major ones but instead of counting up four and half steps until fifth note, count only three and half steps until sixth.

Minor Triad

Minor triads produce darker sounds. Their roots may include any note from a major scale; those built using do, re, and sol (1, 4, and 5) as their foundation are major whereas minor triads composed using mi, la, 2 (3 and 6), followed by roman numeral number 6, repeated up the piano keyboard are considered minor.

Major and minor triads differ based on the interval quality between their third and fifth notes, so to identify which kind you’re creating you must refer to its key signature.

Minor triad chord symbols often consist of the root followed by an “mi” or “min”. Other variations exist as well; all indicate the same thing. Like major triads, practice these shapes across strings and keys is essential.

Major Seventh

The major seventh can add an unusual texture to chord progressions. It sounds jazzier and is commonly employed in modern music to add extra spice.

To create a major seventh chord, take any triad from your scale and position the root note at the bottom of your staff. Next, draw an “extra-long snowperson” above that root to represent its third, fifth, and seventh notes (in this example D).

Each chord quality has a set of intervals that determine its name. To view these qualities in one place, visit the Scale chord summary table – here, triad chord qualities can be seen alongside their interval short names/abbreviations in brackets for comparison with major scale piano diagram above to decide upon their names; similarly each 7th chord quality also has its own roman numeral which you can refer back to later when notating that particular chord.

Minor Seventh

The minor seventh chord is an essential chord used across genres of music. It adds seriousness and sophistication to any piece, from contemporary pop and soul tunes like Claude Debussy’s Claire de Lune.

Although triads use specific letters to denote their key signature, seventh chords are classified by their root, quality and inversion as well as scale degree – hence many Roman numerals are often used interchangeably between them both.

Recall that seventh chords are formed by stacking major thirds (3 to 5) and minor thirds (5 to 7) onto a root note, according to certain rules. When creating these types of chords on bass staff, these rules also apply; all intervals/scale degrees will be written as circles with numbers within.