Quality chords can often surprise us. Sometimes when we hear a chord for the first time, we wonder why it sounds this way.
The major seventh chord is one such chord. Featuring its bright, lovely sound that can often be found in jazz and other contemporary genres, it adds extra emotion and depth to songs.
An addition of a seventh note can add depth and dimension to a chord and change its expressive qualities, for instance by giving it more color or expressive qualities – for instance a major 7th has a rich, nostalgic sound which brings melancholy mood into songs.
Triads are the building blocks of chords, so it’s wise to begin learning them early when learning to play guitar. Once mastered, these will enable you to play any chord in any key!
To create a major triad, start by finding the root of your scale and counting up four notes. Next, draw a snowperson shape around it on the staff while adding any accidentals from its key signature to create third and fifth overtones.
A dominant 7th is created in the same manner as a major triad, but includes an additional fourth note whose interval corresponds to a minor 7th interval from its root. Chord symbols and shorthand typically depict this chord by showing its tonic chord with a 7 in its symbol to indicate this specific type.
7th chords can have any number of different note interval qualities; these could range from diminished, minor and major chords – or even altered variations such as altered diminished.
To create a minor 7th chord, we simply lower the seventh note from a major triad or dominant seventh chord by one half step – creating a minor 7th interval which can be expressed using its formula: 1-3-5-7.
So the chord becomes less dissonant and more peaceful, making it ideal for songwriting when creating melancholic sounds.
This chord works particularly well in jazz compositions, such as Wayne Shorter’s tune Fall. It adds an air of floating tension to chord progressions that helps build momentum and propel listeners forward through each song’s entirety.
The major 7th chord is one of the most frequently used tonal musical chords. With its full sounding notes, this chord can add emotional depth and intensity to your songs.
For the easiest major seventh, start with a major triad and add one note that is half step below its root (e.g. for Cmaj7 you would play C, E and G but add B to represent half step below root).
However, less-common qualities of seventh chords include augment and diminish. Although more dissonant in nature, such chords remain popular among some genres of music such as jazz.
The minor 7th chord combines a minor triad with a minor seventh (10 semitones above the root), producing an emotional yet soothing sound, which is commonly found in jazz music but can also be found elsewhere.
Minor 7th chords can be constructed in two ways: stacking thirds or altering dominant 7th notes. Both methods are extremely straightforward and easy to learn, though stacking thirds might prove impractical in certain circumstances; therefore, we will focus on building this chord using its alternative method below.
The minor seven flat five, also known as half-diminished chord, is an unusual chord to use in jazz music. Reminiscent of major power chords, it adds tension and plays an integral part of Wayne Shorter’s tune Iris; perfect if you want to advance your lead playing! Practice this chord to help advance it.