Seventh Chords

Four Note Chords

Highly recommended prerequisites:

  1. The Major Scale
  2. Triad Chords

Seventh Chords are the chords that are named Major7Minor7 and 7th which is called  dominant seventh. The Root you choose for the chord controls the name so if your root is the G note on Low E then the chord would be called for example Gmajor7 – Gminor7 – G7 depending on the type.  Move the chord up one fret and it becomes a G# (G-sharp) or down one fret and it becomes F# (F-sharp). These three types of seventh chords are the main chord group we need to address but not all. Now to cover all of the possible chords found in the main harmony system the Major Scale we can’t forget Minor75 which would be called a Minor Seventh – flat five chord.

The difference between the seventh chords and the triad chords is not much at all. Remember that a Triad chord is comprised out of a Root, a third and a fifthwith a total of three different notes or intervals from the root note. Now a seventh chord changes only one thing it adds the seventh interval to the chord or the fourth note so a seventh chord consists of the Root, third, fifth and the seventh.  To summarize: Triad chords have 3 notes (intervals) and Seventh chords have four notes or intervals. Seventh chords are a more complicated harmony for the ear to perceive than Triad and like in the case of jazz, where Seventh chords are used rather than Triad on a regular bases, it explains the inaccessible soundscape of jazz or why people have a more difficult time relating to that type of music. Think about it in terms of pattern recognition in the brain. If you spend time learning and using seventh chords you start to appreciate the harmonies and you learn to like it.  It’s acquired taste. See more about this topic on the About page.

Major 7th Chord explained and 3 variations:

The first video is a explanation of the Major7 chord where the root note is on the Low-E string or more specifically the Gmajor7 chord since the root in the chord is the G note. The reason it’s called a major7 is because it has the seventh interval or note from the Major scale unchanged. The formula for a Major 7 chord is thus the Major triad + the major seventh or: The Root, Third, Fifth and Seventh. The major scale is always the theoretical base to reference. A defining factor for a Minor chord for example would be a flat(minor) third (the third moved down one semitone) as opposed to a normal third which is when it is unchanged from the original major shape. Remember that if you move the chord up or down the the neck horizontally you can change the key or root note and thus the name. It stays a Major7 chord but let’s say you move the chord 2 frets/semitones up then it would be on the fifth fret and the root would become the A note thus the chord would be A-major7.

Now for three variations of the Major7 chord. Starting with the one we just explained then going to the variation of the chord where the root note or base note of the chord is on A-string and finally the version where the root note is on the D-string.

 

 

The Dominant 7th Chord explained and 4 variations:

Next in line is the Dominant seventh chord and like before we are positioned on the third fret with the root note of the chord on the Low E-string so it is a G7 or a G-7 dominant.  The typical open chords D7, G7 etc are Dominant 7th chords. The formula for the Dominant 7th chord is basically the major triad chord plus a flat 7 or a minor 7 as you will. Summerized it has: The Root, Third, Fifth and a Flat(minor) Seventh (♭7)

Now four variations of the Dominant 7th Chord. Starting with the one where the root is on the Low-E-string going on to 2 types where the root is on A-string and finally the fourth variation where the root is on D-string.


 

The Minor 7th Chord explained and 3 variations:

Thirdly we have the Minor 7th Chord That unlike the Dominant7 and Major7 seven has a Minor Triad plus a Minor 7 not unexpectantly it being a Minor chord and all :-) To summerize it has The Root(1/8), Flat Third(♭3), Fifth(5) and the Flat Seventh(♭7).

Now for the three variations of the Minor 7th chord starting with the one where the root is on the Low-E-string moving on to the version where the root is on A-string and finally the variation where the root is on the D-string.

 

 

The Minor 7th Flat 5 Chord explained and 3 variations:

Now for the Minor7♭5 Chord that is also sometimes called half-diminished (more on that later). In this case F#Minor7♭5 where the root note is on A-string. I chose this instance of the chord because of the relevance in the G-Major chord progression. This one Is the the odd one out but it is very useful especially if you want to play jazz or classical music but not very common in the pop/rock genres although I guess you hear it sometimes in funk music. To summarize it has The Root, flat third(♭3), flat fifth(♭5), and flat seventh (♭7)

And the three main variations of the F#Minor7♭5 chord. Like always starting on the version where the root note of the chord is on the Low-E-string. going on to the version we explained with the major scale where the root is on A-string and finally the version where the root note is on D-string.

 

Finally All of the Above rolled up into one: