• How To Turn Triads Into Seventh Chords In Simple Steps

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,Piano

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    If you’re interested in learning how triads can be turned into seventh chords, then this lesson is for you.

    One of the things that fascinates the mind of most beginners about intermediate players is their ability to play sophisticated chords like seventh and extended chords.

    After mastering and playing triads for a while, the necessity for more sophisticated chords sets in and there’s this need to upgrade to seventh chords from triads.

    Attention: This lesson is dedicated to beginners who are already familiar with the four known triad types — major, minor, augmented, and diminished — and their inversions in all twelve keys. If the description doesn’t fit you, you might want to check out some intermediate or advanced lessons.

    In the next 10 minutes or so, I’ll be taking you by the hand and showing you step-by-step how you can turn simple triads into seventh chords.

    A Short Note On Triads

    A triad is a collection of three related notes (agreeable or not) which may be played or heard together.

    Although you’re familiar with triads already, permit me to refresh your mind on them shortly before we proceed into our focus in this lesson: seventh chords.

    Major And Minor Triads

    The major triad and minor triads are products of the first, third, and fifth tones of the natural major scale and natural minor scale respectively. The first, third, and fifth tones of the C natural major scale (which are C, E, and G):

    …when played/or together produces the C major triad:

    …while the first, third, and fifth tones of the C natural minor scale:

    …which are C, Eb, and G:

    …produces the C minor triad.

    Augmented And Diminished Triads

    Raising the fifth tone of the major triad produces an augmented triad. When the fifth tone of the C major triad:

    …which is G:

    …is raised by a half-step (to G#):

    This produces the C augmented triad:

    Lowering the fifth tone of any given minor triad produces a diminished triad. Lowering the  fifth tone of the C minor triad:

    …which is G:

    …by a half-step (to Gb):

    …produces the C diminished triad:

    Formation Of Seventh Chords Using Triads

    Let’s go ahead and explore how these “fantastic four” triads can be turned into seventh chords. We’ll be forming the following seventh chord qualities:

    • The major seventh chord
    • The dominant seventh chord
    • The minor seventh chord
    • The half-diminished seventh chord

    Let’s check them out!

    Major Triads To Major Seventh Chords

    Using the major triad, the major seventh chord can be formed by lowering the root of the major triad by a half-step. For example, the C major triad below has a duplicate of its root on the left hand. So, the root of the C major triad (on the right hand):

    …which is C:

    …can be lowered by a half-step (to B):

    …to form the C major seventh chord:

    Lowering the root of the D major triad:

    …which is D:

    …by a half-step (to C#)

    …produces the D major seventh chord:

    Following the steps covered, the major seventh chord can be formed using any major triad.

    Major Triads To Dominant Seventh Chords

    Using the major triad, the dominant seventh chord can be formed by lowering the root of the major triad by a whole-step.

    The root of the C major triad (on the right hand):

    …which is C:

    …can be lowered by a whole-step (to Bb):

    …to form the C dominant seventh chord:

    Lowering the root of the F major triad:

    …which is F:

    …by a whole-step (to Eb)

    …produces the F dominant seventh chord:

    Following the steps covered, the dominant seventh chord can be formed using any major triad.

    Minor Triads To Minor Seventh Chords

    Using the minor triad, the minor seventh chord can be formed by lowering the root of the minor triad by a whole-step.

    The root of the C minor triad (on the right hand):

    …which is C:

    …can be lowered by a whole-step (to Bb):

    …to form the C minor seventh chord:

    Lowering the root of the A minor triad:

    …which is A:

    …by a whole-step (to G)

    …produces the A minor seventh chord:

    Following the steps covered, the minor seventh chord can be formed using any minor triad.

     

    Diminished Triads To Half-Diminished Seventh Chords

    Using the diminished triad, the half-diminished-seventh chord can be formed by lowering the root of the diminished triad by a whole-step.

    The root of the C diminished triad (on the right hand):

    …which is C:

    …can be lowered by a whole-step (to Bb):

    …to form the C half-diminished seventh chord:

    Lowering the root of the F# diminished triad:

    …which is F#:

    …by a whole-step (to E)

    …produces the F# half-diminished seventh chord:

    Following the steps covered, the half-diminished seventh chord can be formed using any diminished triad.

    Final Words

    Using the procedures covered in this lesson, any major, minor, or diminished triad can be upgraded into a seventh chord just by lowering the root either by a half-step or a whole-step.

    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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    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Dennis Joyner

    Hey Chuku, great lesson on forming 7ths. That really makes it easier to form, just lowering the right root 1/2 or 1 step. Thanks for that trick.

    Reply

    2 geometry dash

    I feel it interesting, your post gave me a new perspective! I have read many other articles about the same topic, but your article convinced me! I hope you continue to have high quality articles like this to share with veryone!

    Reply

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