• Have You Mastered These 60 Essential Jazz Chords Yet?

    in Blues music,Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Jazz music,Piano

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    In this lesson, you’ll be learning 60 essential jazz chords that every jazz player must know.

    Jazz piano players are known for their vast harmonic vocabulary and ability to transform regular chord progressions to something dynamic and amazing.

    In the next 12 to 15 minutes, I’ll be taking you by the hand and showing you step-by-step, the essential jazz chords that every jazz pianist must have in his/her chordal vocabulary.

    Overview Of The 60 Essential Jazz Chords

    Although there are numerous chord types to be acquainted with, however, there are 5 main chord types that are essential to the jazz player’s harmonic vocabulary. Check them out:

    The major and minor seventh chords are basically used in chord progressions because of their stable nature while the dominant, diminished, and half-diminished seventh chords are used as passing chords because of their active nature.

    So, in the collection of 60 essential jazz chords are stable and active chords. Let’s go ahead and explore them.

    12 Major Seventh Chords

    The major seventh chord is the chord of the first tone of the major scale. Therefore, starting from the first tone of any given major scale, the major seventh chord can be formed using every other note of the scale in third intervals.

    For example, starting from the first tone of the C major scale:

    …which is C:

    …the major seventh chord can be formed using every other note of the C major scale in third intervals.

    Starting from C (and progressing in third intervals):

    …we have E:

    …G:

    …and B:

    Altogether, here is the C major seventh chord:

    Alternatively, you can form the major seventh chord using the first, third, fifth, and seventh tones of the C major scale:

    C is the first tone

    E is the third tone

    G is the fifth tone

    B is the seventh tone

    “Check Out All Twelve Major Seventh Chords On The Keyboard…”

    The C major seventh chord:

    The Db major seventh chord:

    The D major seventh chord:

    The Eb major seventh chord:

    The E major seventh chord:

    The F major seventh chord:

    The Gb major seventh chord:

    The G major seventh chord:

    The Ab major seventh chord:

    The A major seventh chord:

    The Bb major seventh chord:

    The B major seventh chord:

    12 Minor Seventh Chords

    The minor seventh chord consists of the first, third, fifth, and seventh tones of the natural minor scale.

    The first, third, fifth, and seventh tones of the A minor scale:

    A is the first tone

    C is the third tone

    E is the fifth tone

    G is the seventh tone

    …produces the A minor seventh chord.

    “Check Out All Twelve Minor Seventh Chords On The Keyboard…”

    The C minor seventh chord:

    The C# minor seventh chord:

    The D minor seventh chord:

    The Eb minor seventh chord:

    The E minor seventh chord:

    The F minor seventh chord:

    The F# minor seventh chord:

    The G minor seventh chord:

    The G# minor seventh chord:

    The A minor seventh chord:

    The Bb minor seventh chord:

    The B minor seventh chord:

    12 Dominant Seventh Chords

    The dominant seventh chord can easily be derived from major seventh chords. The formation process is as easy as lowering the seventh tone of the major seventh chord to form a corresponding dominant seventh chord.

    For example, the C major seventh chord:

    …can be used in the formation of the C dominant seventh chord. Lowering the seventh tone of the C major seventh chord (which is B):

    …by a half-step (to Bb):

    …produces the C dominant seventh chord:

    “Check Out All The Dominant Seventh Chords On The Keyboard”

    The C dominant seventh chord:

    The Db dominant seventh chord:

    The D dominant seventh chord:

    The Eb dominant seventh chord:

    The E dominant seventh chord:

    The F dominant seventh chord:

    The Gb dominant seventh chord:

    The G dominant seventh chord:

    The Ab dominant seventh chord:

    The A dominant seventh chord:

    The Bb dominant seventh chord:

    The B dominant seventh chord:

    12 Diminished Seventh Chords

    Although diminished seventh chords are not as common as other seventh chord types we’ve covered earlier, they still occupy a special place in jazz piano harmony.

    The superimposition of two tritones that are a minor third apart from each other produces a diminished seventh chord.

    For example, the C# tritone:

    …and the E tritone:

    …are a minor third apart from each other. Consequently, when superimposed, the C# tritone and the E tritone produce the C# diminished seventh chord:

    “For Your Reference, Here Are All Twelve Diminished Seventh Chords On The Keyboard”

    The C diminished seventh chord:

    The C# diminished seventh chord:

    The D diminished seventh chord:

    The Eb diminished seventh chord:

    The E diminished seventh chord:

    The F diminished seventh chord:

    The F# diminished seventh chord:

    The G diminished seventh chord:

    The G# diminished seventh chord:

    The A diminished seventh chord:

    The A diminished seventh chord:

    The B diminished seventh chord:

    12 Half-Diminished Seventh Chords

    The half-diminished seventh chord is the chord of the seventh tone in the major key. It can be derived easily from the minor triad by lowering its fifth tone by a half-step, hence the name minor seventh (flat five).

    Lowering the fifth tone of the C minor seventh chord:

    …which is G:

    …by a half-step (to Gb):

    …produces the C half-diminished seventh chord:

    “Check Out Every Other Half-Diminished Seventh Chord On The Keyboard…”

    The C half-diminished seventh chord:

    The C# half-diminished seventh chord:

    The D half-diminished seventh chord:

    The D half-diminished seventh chord:
    The E half-diminished seventh chord:

    The F half-diminished seventh chord:

    The F# half-diminished seventh chord:

    The G half-diminished seventh chord:

    The G# half-diminished seventh chord:

    The A half-diminished seventh chord:

    The Bb half-diminished seventh chord:

    The B half-diminished seventh chord:

    Final Words

    Learning and mastery of these chords are of the greatest importance to the chordal vocabulary of any aspiring jazz pianist.

    You can’t find any jazz tune or standard without any of the chords learned — Never!! I therefore recommend that you print out and memorize these chords and if you can, work on their inversions.

    All the best!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Dennis Joyner

    Thanks Jermaine, this helps out so much!
    God bless you.

    Reply

    2 Bruce Bragg

    The Eb diminished 7th is in correct.

    Reply

    3 Favour Chuks

    Yeah, you are right. Eb-Gb-Bb-c.(Diminished 7th)

    Reply

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