• Week 13: Minor-Major Seventh Chord + Cheat Sheet

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano

    minor-major seventh chord

    The minor-major seventh chord is our focus in today’s lesson.

    We’ll be covering many concepts from the definition of this chord to its intervallic breakdown. I’ll also show you, step-by-step, how you can form the minor-major seventh chord using alternative chord formation approaches.

    So read on and don’t lose focus because, in the next ten minutes or so, I’ll be putting this chord within your grasp.

    Welcome to week 13 of our free 16-week chord revival program. Check out the previous weeks 1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10|11|12 if you’re just joining us.

    “What Is The Minor-Major Seventh Chord?”

    Attention: The augmented major seventh chord we studied last week has a relationship with the minor-major seventh chord that we will be covering in this post.

    The minor-major seventh chord, as its name implies, is basically a minor triad with an additional tone that is an interval of a major seventh away from the root.

    The addition of a tone to a minor triad that is a major seventh from its root produces the minor-major seventh chord. For instance, the C minor triad:

    …plus another note that is a major seventh from its root (which is B):

    …produces the C minor-major seventh chord. So, it’s basically the minor triad and the major seventh interval that we’re concerned with.

    If you do a little contrast between the minor-major seventh chord and the minor seventh chord that we covered in a previous week, you’ll discover that the minor seventh chord is a minor triad with a minor seventh.

    The C minor seventh chord:

    …is basically the C minor triad:

    …with another tone that is a minor seventh higher than C (which is Bb):

    Comparing the C minor seventh with the C minor-major seventh:

    …”Can you tell the difference between the minor seventh and the minor-major seventh chord?”

    The difference between both chords is that the seventh tone of the C minor-major seventh chord is the major seventh while that of the minor seventh chord is a minor seventh.

    “What’s the relationship between the minor seventh and the minor-major seventh chord?”

    Both chords stem from the minor triad. If you remove the seventh tone from both chords, you’ll be left with the C minor triad.

    Now that you have a definition of the minor-major seventh chord, let’s take it a step further by breaking down the minor-major seventh chord.

    “What Is The Minor-Major Seventh Chord Made Up Of?”

    No matter how complex a chord is, it can be broken down into smaller fragments – intervals (two-note relationships).

    In this segment, we’re breaking the minor-major seventh chord down into its intervallic components. The goal of this breakdown is to subject it to analysis and enhance our perception of the minor-major seventh chord.

    Let’s use the C minor-major seventh chord for this breakdown.

    The C minor-major seventh chord can be broken down into these intervals…

    C and Eb:

    …a minor third.

    C and G:

    …a perfect fifth.

    C and B:

    …a major seventh.

    In a nutshell, the intervallic components of the minor-major seventh chord are the minor third, the perfect fifth and the major seventh intervals.

    What is the Minor Third?

    The minor third is the relationship between the first and the third tones of the minor scale. So using any minor scale that you are familiar with, the relationship between the first and the third tones will produce the minor third interval.

    Now it is important for me to say at this point that the quality of third in the seventh chord determines the quality of that chord. The minor-major seventh chord is a minor chord because of the quality of third it possesses.

    What is the Perfect Fifth?

    The perfect fifth is the interval between the first and the fifth tones of the minor [or major] scale. We have C and G as the first and fifth tones of C minor scale and that’s a perfect fifth.

    Considering that the perfect fifth interval is said to be a universally stable interval, we can say that the minor minor-major seventh chord is a stable chord.

    The Major Seventh

    In chord formation of minor chords, music scholars tend to abandon the regular natural minor scale because of its shortcomings and use the harmonic minor scale, which is a chromatic variant of the natural minor scale.

    The harmonic minor scale can be formed by raising the seventh tone of the natural minor scale by a half step. If we raise the seventh tone of the A natural minor scale (G):

    …by a half step, we’ll have the A harmonic minor scale:

    The interval between the first and seventh tones of the A harmonic minor scale (A to G#):

    …is a major seventh interval.

    Attention: The harmonic minor and melodic minor scales can be used in the chord formation of the minor-major seventh chord; however, we’ll be focusing on the harmonic minor scale in this lesson.

    The minor-major seventh chord is a minor chord due to the quality of its third and sounds stable because of its fifth. However, it sounds dissonant just like every other seventh chord because of its major seventh interval. It is called a seventh chord because it encompasses seven degrees of the harmonic minor scale.

    Alternative Approaches To The Chord Formation Of The Minor-Major Seventh Chord

    We’ll be covering three chord formation techniques that you can use to form the minor-major seventh chord in all twelve keys starting with the scale approach, and then the intervallic approach before we end with the chordal approach.

    Let’s get started with it!

    Scale Approach to the Chord Formation of the Minor-Major Seventh Chord

    Earlier in this lesson, we talked about the harmonic minor scale and how it can be used to form the minor-major seventh chord.

    Here are the harmonic minor scales in all 12 keys for your reference:

    C harmonic minor scale:

    C# harmonic minor scale:

    D harmonic minor scale:

    Eb harmonic minor scale:

    E harmonic minor scale:

    F harmonic minor scale:

    F# harmonic minor scale:

    G harmonic minor scale:

    Ab harmonic minor scale:

    A harmonic minor scale:

    Bb harmonic minor scale:

    B harmonic minor scale:

    Using the pick-skip technique, you can form the minor-major seventh chord in all the keys.

    Let’s use the D harmonic minor scale to form the minor-major seventh chord.

    Using the D harmonic minor scale:

    If you pick D:

    ….skip E and pick F:

    …skip G and pick A:

    ….skip Bb and pick C#:

    We will have the D minor-major seventh chord:

    …which consists of D, F, A, and C#

    If you transpose this chord to C, here is what it looks like:

    The minor-major seventh chord can be formed in any key using the harmonic minor scales.

    Intervallic Approach to the Chord Formation of the Minor-Major Seventh Chord

    The minor-major seventh chord has three intervallic components – the minor third, the perfect fifth, and the major seventh intervals.

    If we put these three intervals together in one octave, we will have the minor-major seventh chord.

    What is the Minor Third?

    The minor third is the relationship between the first and the third tones of any given minor scale. A and C are the first and third tones of the A harmonic minor scale. Therefore, A-C:

    …is a minor third interval.

    What is the Perfect Fifth?

    A perfect fifth is the relationship between the first and fifth tones of any given minor [or major] scale. A and E are the first and fifth tones of the A harmonic minor scale. The relationship between A and E:

    …produces the perfect fifth interval.

    What is the Major Seventh?

    A major seventh is the interval between the first and the seventh tones of the harmonic minor scale. This is also the same size as the interval between the first and seventh tones of the major scale. A and G# are the first and seventh tones of the A harmonic minor scale. The relationship between A and G#:

    …produces the major seventh interval.

    Formation of the E minor-major seventh chord would entail that the first and third tones:

    …the first and fifth tones:

    …and the first and seventh tones:

    …of the E harmonic minor scale:

    …all be stacked together in one octave.

    That’s pretty much:

    • E-G (the minor third)
    • E-B (the perfect fifth)
    • E-D# (the major seventh)

    So put together, E-G-B-D#:

    …produces the E minor-major seventh chord.

    Following the same procedure in all the keys will produce the minor-major seventh chord.

    Chordal Approach to the Chord Formation of the Minor-Major Seventh Chord

    I suppose you are familiar with the minor triad in all keys.

    Formation of the minor-major seventh chord is as easy as adding another note that is a major seventh higher than the root of a given minor triad. The C minor triad:

    …can be upgraded to a C minor-major seventh chord by the addition of another note that is a major seventh higher than the root of the C minor triad. A major seventh above C is B:

    Therefore, the addition of B to the C minor triad would produce the C minor-major seventh chord:

    This pretty much validates my submission in the beginning, that the minor-major seventh chord is a minor triad with an additional tone that is a major seventh from the root of the triad.

    Final Words

    Alright everyone, this where we’ll draw the curtains for today. Feel free to download the cheat sheet and quick reference guide to the minor-major seventh chord.

    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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    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Wendell

    Is it just me or has anyone else realized it’s mid April and all of the chords in the 16 week program should have been posted by now. I know you folks on the left coast move at a more laid back pace than those of us on the right coast but don’t leave a brother hanging. Peace

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