How to Play Seventh Chords on Piano

how to play seventh chords on piano

Seventh chords are an expressive set of four note piano chords used often in jazz and modern music. Their depth adds dimension and emotion; you can use either hand to play them.

Minor seventh flat five chords are an extremely simple way to create. Just take any major triad or chord and add its seventh scale degree above it (eg C maj7 = C E G B). Next, lower that octave by half step for the minor seventh flat five effect.


If you want to expand beyond basic triads, seventh chords are an excellent way to do just that. They can be found almost everywhere from contemporary pop tunes like Beyonce’s “Les Trois Cloches” by Claude Debussy all the way through classical pieces such as Debussy’s “Claire De Lune.”

Major seventh chords can be formed by taking a major triad and adding one fifth above its root, creating four note chords (called tetrachords). You’ll often see this chord listed as C major 7.

To play the C major seventh chord, start by positioning your right thumb at middle C and placing your left pinky on C an octave below it. Move up the scale until your third finger plays A and repeat this pattern – this chord forms C major sevenths.


Up until now we have explored chords composed of three notes; these are called triads. However, seventh chords add a fourth note, creating four-note tetrachords – these four-note chords can then be divided further by using intervals.

In these chords, the seventh note adds an interval that lies one octave or two semitones above the root note of a triad and changes its sound and feel compared to major or minor triads alone.

These chords can be heard everywhere from blues and jazz music to pop songs – and developing an understanding of them can take your piano playing to new levels. Start by familiarizing yourself with four common seventh chord types such as major, minor, diminished and half-diminished seventh chords used across most genres of music – major seventh, minor seventh, diminished seventh and half-diminished chords are essential components.


All seventh chords contain variations on the scale degrees 1 through 3, 5, and 7. They provide depth and emotion when used alongside regular triads, and can be found across genres from Mozart symphonies to R&B/soul music.

Dominant 7th chords are an excellent way for beginner musicians to expand their harmonic repertoire beyond major and minor chords, creating tension and instability while adding visual texture and tension. Dominant 7th chords can often be found in jazz piano music as well as funk and blues music genres.

To build a dominant seventh chord, start with a major triad and add a minor third one semitone lower before adding the seventh above it. From there you can practice many ways, from bottom voicings such as (7-9-5-13), or higher up (C-7-13-9) Both have advantages that beginners with small hands should keep in mind when learning this technique.


All four note chords, including diminished sevenths, are composed from three-note triads. By adding any seventh note from a scale onto any of these triads, four note tetrachords are formed.

Diminished chords feature an unsettling sound. Once you learn their names and symbols, playing diminished chords becomes effortless. Practice recognizing them by roman number or chord symbol as well as shape on the staff to become adept at playing diminished chords.

Half-diminished sevenths can be more easily recognized than full diminished sevenths, which often feature a circle around their root note of b5. You can refer to half-diminished sevenths by their root note – Cm7(b5) for easy identification when learning music reading.


Seventh chords are four note chords composed of triads with an additional seventh interval from their roots added, creating dissonant sounds and increasing tension and emotional intensity in music.

Similar to major and minor triads, octatonic chords can be utilized across most genres of music, although they’re especially prevalent in jazz, blues and modern piano songs.

To create these chords, place your first, second and third fingers on the root, fifth and sixth notes of a triad and add a seventh note above it to create a dominant 7th chord; alternately you could also add a fifth below its root to form a minor 7th chord – similar chords can be found in many Romantic-era classical pieces as well as modern piano ballads.