Seventh chords can add depth and warmth to your triads, creating rich interval qualities as well as deeper layering effects.
Seventh chords are composed of three notes connected by triads and with an additional note added a third above the fifth note, making the chord seventh chords. Here we explore some of the more popular types of seventh chords.
Major seventh chords possess an intoxicating, luxurious quality that creates a powerful sound. To form one, add a major seventh interval to a major triad, by extending its third sequence by one octave. Major sevenths can often be heard in jazz and bossa nova music genres.
Learning moveable seventh chords should be straightforward if you already possess basic barre chord shapes. Simply count the intervals from your root note and figure out which shapes require additional additions in order to become major seventh chords.
Starting off right is easy with Stevie Wonder’s classic track which contains numerous dominant seventh chords. This song displays how they can elevate funk progressions while also showing all of the distinct qualities each type of seventh chord can bring to a song.
Minor major seventh chords (or minor major sevenths) are made by combining a minor triad with a major seventh added onto it. Their composition can be somewhat confusing to describe due to the differences in root-seventh intervals affecting their names; often this chord will be called A minor 7 or Am7 chord.
A seventh chord can be an extremely useful instrument. It serves as a transition from one major to another and is especially popular in jazz music when combined with minor chords; for example, you might hear it in Patsy Cline’s song, “Crazy”, where its use adds an air of sorrowful melancholy to her performance.
Minor seventh chords are among the easiest chords to play on guitar because you can move their shape freely up and down the fretboard depending on where it needs to be used in a song. Here are a few chord shapes to get you started:
The dominant seventh chord (often represented in figured bass notation by letters either sharp or flat) is composed of a major triad that has been lowered half step, creating the tension of a seventh. Much like its major cousin, this type of chord can help establish harmonic direction or modulation.
Chords built on the fifth degree of any key contain a major triad with a minor seventh that feels discordant but tends to resolve into the tonic chord (I). Chords constructed on me (3)(2) or le (2)(3) contain semi-diminished chords consisting of diminished triads with minor sevenths that tend to resolve into their tonic chords (I).
Use movable shapes to easily play dominant seventh chords by using their various voicings, for instance C7 chord can be played by placing your thumb on the low E string and lifting it when playing chord, while A7 can simply be formed by placing your finger on middle E string.
Mix and Match
Once you’ve mastered major and minor chords, it’s time to explore more advanced guitar chords: seventh chords. These chords feature an additional interval added onto a triad, creating jazzier tones in their sound. Similar to triads, seventh chords can be identified using their names: Maj7, Min7, Dom7, M7b5, Dim7.
These chords can add texture and emotion to any genre of music, especially funk and rock, though they can also be utilized across many other styles. Their use varies based on what base chord you build them from and whether the seventh chord is sharp or flat – this allows them to take on different personalities or colors and serve their intended function more efficiently in songs like Stevie Wonder’s famous funk tune “Don’t Touch My Hair,” which contains many dominant seventh chords.