How to Play 7th Chords

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No matter what genre you enjoy listening to – be it jazz, rock, or funk music – seventh chords add depth and character to timeless songs. Composed of a major triad with a major seventh interval, seventh chords possess a warm, soulful sound.

Minor seventh chords can also be unsettling and unstable due to being one whole step below from their root chord. There are five different kinds of seventh chords.


Seventh chords add depth and harmony to jazz music by creating more complex chord progressions. They typically consist of four note chords that combine triads with the addition of seventh scale degrees; these four notes create a different emotional feel from traditional major and minor triads, creating tension or soulfulness as desired.

Seventh chords can also be an excellent way to ease listeners into the next chord, since their fourth note often foreshadows what will follow next in your musical journey. This makes it easier for audiences to follow what is going on musically.

Make any major triad into its dominant seventh sibling quickly by shifting one of the doubled notes down a half step (ten semitones). For instance, Fmaj7 (F root, A major third, C minor sixth and E major seventh). This approach works equally well for major, minor, diminished and half-diminished seventh chords.


Dominant seventh chords are one of the most frequent types of chords found in music, causing tension that wants to resolve on tonic chords or scale roots. Dominant seventh chords feature a tritone between its third and seventh notes that draws listeners towards this ultimate goal of tonicity.

Blues songs rely heavily on dominant seventh chords to create emotion in their songs, while early rock n’ roll was also heavily influenced by this genre. Carl Perkins’ 1956 hit, “Blue Suede Shoes”, utilized two such chords to give its toe-tapping beat.

Chords are usually identified by their triad type and seventh type; for example, G7 chord is defined as G major triad with minor seventh. If not explicitly named however, dominant seventh chords are commonly referred to simply as dominant seventh chords due to being built from various types of triads such as major or minor ones.


Minor seventh chords produce a soothing, contemplative and soulful sound that’s found in ballads, jazz and bossa nova music. You can create one by adding a major seventh interval to a minor triad – this allows your ears to detect major and minor chords easily.

Check that you have the correct scale degrees by counting semitones between minor third and major seventh; their ratio must equal.

Debussy’s Clair de Lune provides an incredible example of this, making one of the most iconic uses of a dominant seventh chord to create tension and anticipation in music.


No matter the genre of music you’re performing, seventh chords add powerful emotion to any track you perform. Learning their use will take your guitar-playing to the next level.

Seventh chords are triadic chords, meaning that they contain major thirds and minor thirds (spanning four semitones). Western music typically makes use of five types of seventh chords: major/minor seventh, dominant seventh, half-diminished seventh, and diminished seventh.

To create a major seventh chord, all that is necessary to create one is adding an added a major seventh interval above the root of a triad. For example, when adding a major seventh interval above C major triad C-E-G you have created Cmaj7 chord.

Dominant seventh chords resemble major seventh chords in that they share similar characteristics, yet differ by being built on the fifth scale degree instead of root note – creating a more tension-filled sound than their major counterparts.