Seventh chords add an additional note to a triad, the most prevalent types being major seventh, minor seventh, dominant seventh and half-diminished seventh chords.
To create a seventh chord, draw the root of a triad on the staff followed by an extra-long snowperson composed of notes positioned third, fifth and seventh above it. Apply key signature accidentals if required.
The major seventh chord type, with eleven semitones spanning it, is one of two commonly employed 7th chord types found in Western music that span ten semitones; these form part of many harmonic progressions and form their basis.
Maj7 chords feature a smooth jazz sound and are easily found both major and minor key progressions. In particular, they work very well when used as the iv chord in major keys.
Create a major 7th chord by selecting any root note of the scale as the root. To assist in this decision-making process, referring to either the full Scale Chord Quality Table (or its simplified version) can help.
Major seventh chords can often be identified by their distinctive voicing; notated as either maj7 or, rarely, with the chord symbol m7 (although this should not be done as it could lead to confusion with lowercase “m” used for minor). Download GtrLib to explore all possible voicings for this chord type.
As you expand your harmonic range on piano, it is crucial that you familiarize yourself with all of these chord types – they help shape and define music of various genres and moods.
Minor seventh chords are among the most often-used chords in classical and jazz music, and its formula is easy: minor triad on bottom with diminished 7th above. But in notation they can appear intimidating with many flat (b) and sharp (#) accidentals present.
Understanding how to construct the minor seventh chord can actually make its creation simpler than other kinds of 7th chords as it’s less dissonant and chromatic. Furthermore, its construction is very similar to subdominant chords; therefore it can serve as a lead-in chord to V chord progressions in many cadential progressions.
Minor seventh chords begin on the sixth scale degree of A natural minor scale and are designated with Roman numeral VI7 as their starting note. Note that, unlike triads, no notes in these chords are doubled – this helps prevent voice crossing between bass/alto, soprano and tenor voices.
Dominant seventh chords are formed on the fifth degree of any major diatonic scale and feature a dissonant relationship between their third and seventh notes, creating tension and urgency within music compositions. They make them ideal for creating momentum within any piece.
Dominant seventh chords are an integral component of popular music genres such as rock and blues; two iconic songs by Elvis such as “Heartbreak Hotel” and “That’s All Right” use dominant seventh chords extensively.
Although textbooks usually describe seventh chords based on their triad and seventh qualities, most people opt for a different method: whenever a chord contains three major triads with minor seventh intervals above its root it’s known as a dominant seventh chord.
Here are two movable dominant seventh chord shapes you can practice playing, using these diagrams as guides; feel free to experiment with your own variations as you gain experience playing these chord types. As more time is dedicated to exploring this chord type, its integration will become simpler into rhythm playing.
A diminished chord, also known as Cmin7b5, consists of stacking a minor third on top of a diminished fifth; this combination may serve various tonal purposes in different situations; most frequently as secondary dominant chord or leading chord in minor keys.
To better comprehend the construction of this chord, view the piano diagram below. It displays 1 octave of notes beginning at C, identifying specific note intervals used to build this chord in later steps and finding sharp or flat accidental names if required. These note intervals also help us define each chord quality while showing how the seventh chord qualities relate back to triad chord qualities based on which they were built; hence their relevance in helping identify which triad qualities should be utilized when building seventh chords.