• What 60% of Common Seventh Chord Qualities Have In Common

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano

    seventh chord qualities

    Seventh chords are important in music the same way triads are.

    In this post, I’ll be showing you an interval that is the secret link between 60% of the seventh chord qualities that are commonly used.

    Review Of Seventh Chords

    An interval is the relationship between two notes in terms of the distance between them.
    Even though intervals can be used beyond the mere description of the distance between notes, we’re focusing on distances in this post.

    Definition of Seventh Chords

    Seventh chords span an interval (or distance) of seven scale degrees or a “seventh.” Thus, why they are called seventh chords.

    Formation of Seventh Chords

    Scales produce [intervals and] chords. Different scales produce different seventh chords and we’ve covered these processes in our FREE 16-week chord revival program.

    Using the C major scale:

    …we can form a seventh chord by stacking notes in thirds (aka – “tertian harmony”) until a seventh is encompassed.

    Starting from C:

    …stacking a third on C would add E:

    …the third tone in the C major scale.

    Stacking a third on E would add G:

    …the fifth tone in the C major scale.

    Stacking a third on G would add B:

    …the seventh tone in the C major scale.

    We can stop stacking thirds here because we’ve encompassed seven degrees of the C major scale from C to B:

    Qualities of Seventh Chords

    There are various qualities of seventh chords.

    The quality of a seventh chord depends on the scale it’s derived from and the intervals that make it up (aka – “intervallic components”).

    Even though there are several qualities of seventh chords, there are five common ones I’d like to spotlight here:

    • Major seventh chord
    • Minor seventh chord
    • Dominant seventh chord
    • Half-diminished seventh chord
    • Diminished seventh chord

    Here’s the diatonic distribution of these seventh chords:

    Seventh Chord

    Distribution

    Major seventh

    1st and 4th degree of the major scale

    Minor seventh

    2nd, 3rd, and 6th degree of the major scale

    Dominant seventh

    5th degree of the major scale

    Half-diminished seventh

    7th degree of the major scale

    Diminished seventh

    7th degree of the minor scale

    Before you continue with this post, be sure that you’re familiar with these five chord qualities. Check out these posts:

    The Major Seventh Chord
    The Minor Seventh Chord
    The Dominant Seventh Chord

    They’ll help you out with the definition, breakdown, and formation of these seventh chords.

    What 60% Of Common Seventh Chord Qualities Have In Common

    A closer examination of these various qualities of seventh chords – major, dominant, minor, half-diminished, and diminished – will show us what some of them have in common.

    Here’s the spelling of these seventh chord qualities in C:

    Major seventh – C-E-G-B
    Dominant seventh – C-E-G-Bb
    Minor seventh – C-Eb-G-Bb

    half-diminished seventh – C-Eb-Gb-Bb
    Diminished seventh – C-Eb-Gb-Bbb

    The minor, dominant, and half-diminished seventh chords have something in common and that’s the minor seventh interval.

    Using C as a reference, the minor seventh interval is the relationship between C and Bb:

    …and this interval is common in the minor, dominant, and half-diminished seventh chords. Here’s a closer examination…

    C minor seventh:

    …has the C-Bb interval.

    C dominant seventh:

    …has the C-Bb interval.

    C half-diminished seventh:

    …has the C-Bb interval.

    The minor seventh interval is the secret link between these three seventh chord qualities, which are pretty much 60% of common seventh chord qualities.

    The Dominant Seventh Chord – A Major Triad Plus Minor Seventh Interval

    If you’re familiar with the major triad in all keys, then you can just add a note that forms a minor seventh interval from the root of the major triad to form the dominant seventh chord.

    If you’re looking for another easy way to form the dominant seventh chord, look no further.

    Addition of the C minor seventh interval:

    …to the C major triad:

    …produces the C dominant seventh chord.

    Heck, we can even play the major triad:

    …over the minor seventh interval:

    …on the bass to produce the C dominant seventh chord:

    Check out these voicings of the major seventh chord in all twelve keys:

    C dominant seventh:

    Db dominant seventh:

    Here are the remainder:


    D dominant seventh:

    Eb dominant seventh:

    E dominant seventh:

    F dominant seventh:

    F# dominant seventh:

    G dominant seventh:

    Ab dominant seventh:

    A dominant seventh:

    Bb dominant seventh:

    B dominant seventh:

    The Minor Seventh Chord – A Minor Triad Plus Minor Seventh Interval

    Using any known minor triad, you can add a note that forms a minor seventh interval from the root of the minor triad to form the minor seventh chord.

    Addition of the C minor seventh interval:

    …to the C minor triad:

    …produces the C minor seventh chord:

    Just like we did in the previous segment, if we play the C minor triad:

    …over the minor seventh interval:

    …on the bass, this will produce the C minor seventh chord:

    Check out these voicings of the minor seventh chord in all twelve keys:

    C minor seventh:

    C# minor seventh:

    D minor seventh:

    Eb minor seventh:

    E minor seventh:

    F minor seventh:

    F# minor seventh:

    G minor seventh:

    G# minor seventh:

    A minor seventh:

    Bb minor seventh:

    B minor seventh:

    The Half-Diminished Seventh Chord – A Diminished Triad Plus Minor Seventh Interval

    If you’re familiar with the diminished triad in all keys, then you can just add a note that forms a minor seventh interval from the root of the diminished triad to form the half-diminished seventh chord.

    Addition of the minor seventh interval on C:

    …to the C diminished triad:

    …produces the C half-diminished seventh chord:

    Heck, we can even play the diminished triad:

    …over the minor seventh interval:

    …on the bass to produce the C half-diminished seventh chord:

    Check out this voicing of the half-diminished seventh chords in all keys:

    C half-diminished seventh:

    C# half-diminished seventh:

    D half-diminished seventh:

    D# half-diminished seventh:

    E half-diminished seventh:

    F half-diminished seventh:

    F# half-diminished seventh:

    G half-diminished seventh:

    G# half-diminished seventh:

    A half-diminished seventh:

    A# half-diminished seventh:

    B half-diminished seventh:

    Final Words

    Congratulations! You’ve just learned one subtle way to put the triads we covered in our FREE 16-week chord revival program to work.

    Playing the major, minor, and diminished triads over a minor seventh interval on the left hand will produce three out of 5 common seventh chord qualities.

    “Can I ask you for a favor in return?”

    All I ask of you is to practice these in all twelve keys.

    While practicing, endeavor to invert the triads on the right hand to add variety to the exercise.

    If you implement the inversions, you’ll end up having three ways of playing each seventh chord above.

    You’ll discover that the C minor seventh chord, which can be formed by playing the C minor triad over the C minor seventh interval on the left hand:

    …has two other ways it can be played.

    The first inversion of the C minor triad over the C minor seventh interval:

    …and second inversion of the C minor triad over C minor seventh interval:

    You’ve got a lot of homework to do!

    Until next time.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    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 the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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    { 4 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Peter LaFosse

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    2 David Brakes

    Thanks

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    3 zino

    nice

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    4 Nnamani Jude AkA [Small`Keyboardist]

    You have done well man. So surprised you are even a Nigerian. 08178718799 whatsapp. Just a text from you please. I’m not too sure of mah email. Thanks

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