• How To Build Seventh Chords Like An Architect Using “Foundation And Structure” Concept

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    I’ll be showing you how to build seventh chords in this lesson.

    Using major and minor chords that you are already familiar with, you can form bigger and sophisticated chords.

    The major chords are as follows:

    C major:

    Db major:

    D major:

    Eb major:

    E major:

    F major:

    Gb major:

    G major:

    Ab major:

    A major:

    Bb major:

    B major:

    The minor chords are as follows:

    C minor:

    C# minor:

    D minor:

    D# minor:

    E minor:

    F minor:

    F# minor:

    G minor:

    G# minor:

    A minor:

    Bb minor:

    B minor:

    The “Foundation And Structure” Concept

    Two things you need to form a major seventh or minor seventh chord voicing with are as follows:



    Let’s get started with the foundation.

    The Foundation

    The foundation of a major seventh chord is a major third (or major tenth interval.) This interval is formed by the relationship between the first and third tones of the major scale.

    Using the C major scale (as a reference):

    …the first and third tones are C and E:

    When we play C and E together, we’ve laid the foundation for a major chord. So, C goes to the left hand (as the bass) while E goes to the right hand:

    Left hand (C):

    Right hand (E):

    The minor third interval is the foundation of the minor seventh chord and other bigger minor chords. Just take any major third interval you know and shrink it (make it smaller) by lowering the upper note by a half-step and you’ll have a minor third interval.

    For example, C-E (a major third interval):

    …can be used in the formation of the minor third interval. It’s as simple as lowering the upper note (which is E):

    …by a half-step (to Eb):

    …and we’ll have C-Eb (a minor third interval):

    …which is the foundation of all the bigger and sophisticated minor chords. Don’t forget that C is played on the bass while the Eb is played on the right hand:

    Left hand (C):

    Right hand (Eb):

    Altogether, here are the two foundations we need:

    C major third (for all major chords):

    C minor third (for all minor chords):

    The Structure

    Now that you have the foundation of the C major chord (the C major third interval):

    …all you have to do is to add a structure to the right hand.

    Instead of playing just E over C on the bass:

    …we can play a full-sounding E minor chord on the right hand over C on the bass:

    Attention: I know it takes a little more mental effort to think of a minor chord structure when the chord you have in mind is a major seventh chord. However, you have to try!

    Major seventh chord = Major foundation + Minor chord structure

    If we take the D major third foundation:

    …and add a minor chord structure on the F# (the F# minor chord):

    …we’ll have the F# minor chord over D on the bass:

    …and that’s the D major seventh chord.

    “Here’s The Structure For Minor Seventh Chords…”

    The C minor seventh chord:

    …requires a major chord structure.

    So, instead of playing only Eb on the right hand over C on the bass:

    …we can turn the Eb into a full-sounding major chord (and that’s the Eb major chord):

    If we put the foundation and the structure together:

    C minor third (foundation):

    Eb major chord (structure):

    …that’s the C minor seventh chord:

    Here’s the formula:

    Minor seventh chord = Minor foundation + Major chord structure

    Final Words


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    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

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