The Different Types of 7th Chords

7th chord progressions

Seventh chords can add a unique texture to a song’s soundscape, yet don’t easily fit into every chord progression. They tend to shine most in genres like soul, R&B and pop music.

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Dominant Seventh

Chord progressions have an enormous influence on the overall feel of your songs, yet they can be hard to remember all of their varieties. One popular one is Dominant Seventh.

A dominant seventh chord is formed using a major triad, but with an added flat 7th above its root. This adds dissonance that adds power and tension to the chord.

Start off by building a major triad (C, E and G). Add an altered B flat seventh above its root note for an E dominant seventh chord. To create a D dominant seventh chord.

The D dominant seventh can be tricky because it uses similar voicing to A dominant seventh but sounds completely different. Be sure to practice both versions so that switching back and forth becomes effortless.

Major Seventh

The Major Seventh is an extremely popular chord found in modern music. It adds fuller tones to the perfect triad with the inclusion of an additional note, making chord progressions jazzy-sounding; you can hear this feature everywhere from modern songs such as Claude Debussy’s “Claire de Lune.”

Major seventh chords can be created using any scale degree and quality; to begin building them, identify its root – usually the 1st or 2nd note in the scale.

Once you know where its root lies, its quality can then be assessed using a note interval table. One method of doing so involves counting half-tones between its roots and individual notes of its sequence – another approach would be looking at its circle of fifths to find its quality.

Minor Seventh

Minor 7th chords have an exceptionally soothing sound that works particularly well in songs with a laid-back Latin groove. Stevie Wonder was famous for employing them, though they can also be found in popular music such as Stevie’s classic hits or some pop classics.

As with major seventh chords, minor 7th chords vary greatly depending on which minor scale they’re constructed from. Natural minor scale chords include seven different versions; for harmonic and melodic minor scales there are nine.

Minor 7th chords can be constructed using two triads stacked vertically: minor on top of major. This chord can be found in most keys and features an appealing sound. Another popular minor 7th chord is half-diminished seventh which can be created by taking a diminished triad and adding a minor 7th.

Wandering Seventh

As well as the major and minor seventh chords discussed here, there are other kinds of seventh chords which can be added to basic triads by changing interval qualities for root, third and seventh. By manipulating these intervals you can alter what kind of chord you create – these so-called chord extensions (such as dominant 7(b9) or diminished sevenths) add richness and tension, often used within circle of fifth progressions to add variety.

Another method of expanding chords is with a supertonic seventh, consisting of a triad with a passing tone b5 (#5) in its third interval above its root, similar to that found in minor triads; this variation sounds and resolves differently due to this #5 being treated as an integral tone. As is typical with seventh chords, supertonic sevenths often resolve via falling-fifth root motion back towards their parent chord, as depicted in Example 18-6; stepwise motion may also occur where common-tone preparation cannot.