• How To Form Seventh Chords In Two Shakes Of A Dog’s Tail Using Third Intervals And The Circle Of Fifths Chart

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    You arrived at this page because you’re interested in learning how to form seventh chords.

    There are so many ways to form seventh chords and truth be told, I have covered a lot of them in the past; ranging from the very easy approaches to the advanced approaches.

    Here are some of them:

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

    Eight Intervals That Are Essential To The Formation Of Triads And Seventh Chords

    Who Else Is Interested In Learning The Shortcut To Playing Seventh Chords In The Major Key

    You’d probably be asking, “Dr. Pokey, with all these approaches, what is the need for another approach?”

    Well, there are many ways to skin a cat. It doesn’t hurt to learn diverse of perspectives to any subject in life (and not just music) because the tons of approaches will solidify your knowledge of the subject matter.

    Additionally, some of the approaches you already learned in the past can be understood better using some of the concepts you’ll learn in this lesson.

    So, if you give me the next 7 minutes or so, I’ll take you through the world of major seventh and minor seventh chords using third intervals and the circle of fifths chart.

    Are you ready?

    A Quick Review On Third Intervals

    A third interval is formed when the relationship between any two notes encompasses three alphabet letters. The following notes are all third intervals:

    C-E:

    D-F:

    E-G:

    F-A:

    G-B:

    A-C:

    B-D:

    …and for each of them, three alphabet letters are encompassed.

    Major Third Intervals

    The relationship between the first and third tones of the major scale produces a major third interval.

    For example, using any major scale (let’s say the C major scale):

    …the relationship between C and E (which are the first and third tones):

    …produces a major third interval.

    “So, How Well Do You Know Your Scales?”

    If you know the tones of the Ab major scale:

    …it’s so easy to isolate the first and third tones (which are Ab and C):

    …and that’s a major third interval formed.

    “Here Are All The Major Third Intervals…”

    C major third:

    Db major third:

    D major third:

    Eb major third:

    E major third:

    F major third:

    Gb major third:

    G major third:

    Ab major third:

    A major third:

    Bb major third:

    B major third:

    Minor Third Intervals

    Shrinking a major third interval by a half-step produces a minor third interval. It’s as easy as lowering the upper note of the interval by a half-step.

    For example, C-E is a major third interval:

    …if we lower E by a half-step (to Eb):

    …this produces C-Eb (a minor third interval):

    Attention: While lowering the upper note of an interval, endeavor to stick to the same alphabet letter. Notice that we lowered E to Eb and not E to D#. Lowering E to D# changes the alphabet letter and that is wrong.

    If you take any other major third interval that you’re familiar with (for example E-G#):

    …and you lower the G# by a half-step (to G):

    …you get yourself a minor third interval (E-G):

    “Here Are All The Minor Third Intervals…”

    C minor third:

    C# minor third:

    D minor third:

    Eb minor third:

    E minor third:

    F minor third:

    F# minor third:

    G minor third:

    G# minor third:

    A minor third:

    Bb minor third:

    B minor third:

    Seventh Chords = Third Intervals And The Circle Of Fifths Chart

    Using the third intervals that we already reviewed and the circle of fifths chart:

    …you can form major and minor seventh chords.

    Ready to see how that works? Alright, let me show you.

    Formation Of Major Seventh Chords

    Assuming you don’t know the C major seventh chord:

    …and you want to form it in two shakes of a dog’s tail, it’s possible if you know your major third intervals and the circle of fifths chart.

    Step 1. Take C and its neighboring tone in the circle (in the clockwise direction) which is G:

    C:

    G:

    Step 2. Turn C and G into major third intervals each; C-E (C major third) and G-B (G major third):

    C-E:

    G-B:

    Step 3. Play the third intervals together and you get the C major seventh chord:

    C major seventh chord:

    “Let’s Do Same For The Ab Major Seventh Chord…”

    Step 1. Take Ab and its neighboring tone in the circle (in the clockwise direction) which is Eb:

    Ab:

    Eb:

    Step 2. Turn Ab and Eb into major third intervals each; Ab-C (Ab major third) and Eb-G (Eb major third):

    Ab-C:

    Eb-G:

    Step 3. Play the third intervals together and you get the Ab major seventh chord:

    Ab major seventh chord:

    “Let’s Take One More Example (The E Major Seventh Chord)…”

    Step 1. Take E and its neighboring tone in the circle (in the clockwise direction) which is B:

    E:

    B:

    Step 2. Turn E and B into major third intervals each; E-G# (E major third) and B-D# (B major third):

    E-G#:

    B-D#:

    Step 3. Play the third intervals together and you get the E major seventh chord:

    E major seventh chord:

    Final Words

    Thank you for reading through today’s lesson and I’m excited that you’ve learned a couple of things from the relationship between third intervals:

    Major third

    Minor third

    …and the circle of fifths chart:

    Keep up the great work and don’t forget to internalize this approach by practicing this concept from key to key.

    I’m grateful to my role model and mentor, Jermaine Griggs, for the opportunity to share this information with you and I’m looking forward to seeing you in the next lesson.

    Until then, the comment section below is open to your questions, contributions, suggestions, etc.

    All the best!

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku (aka - "Dr. Pokey") 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.

    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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    { 6 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 run 3

    I really like reading through a post that can make people think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

    Reply

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    This article was very good and helpful for me. I will keep coming here again and again.

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    4 Saayed Khan

    Wonderful tips and post. Great post! I liked the post you have shared with the help of the screenshot it helps to understand it easily. Great tips and guide. Keep posting mate!

    Reply

    5 Carolyn Clark

    Thank you Dr. Onye for sharing the theory behind music. Now I understand how to form intervals. What a brilliant eye opener. I have been on the waiting list since 2018, for The 500 page Official Guide To Piano Playing. How can I get it, I have been signing up every since I started watching your blog. Would appreciate any help. Please E-mail me if it’s not too much trouble. I appreciate how everything is broken down so clearly. God bless you. You are a great instructor and teacher.

    Reply

    6 Hot baby

    ur blog. Would appreciate any help. Please E-mail me if it’s not too much trouble. I appreciate how everything is broken down so clearly. God bless you. You are a great instructor and teacher

    Reply

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