• How To Play The Minor Seventh Chord With Mutual Intervals Of Fifths

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano

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    Who else is interested in learning how to play the minor seventh chord with mutual intervals?

    This post offers you an alternate perspective to the formation and application of the minor seventh chord. If you’re not very familiar with the minor seventh chord, don’t worry, we’ll be getting started by giving you an appropriate overview of the minor seventh chord.

    An Overview Of The Minor Seventh Chord

    To gain a proper understanding of the minor seventh chord, we’ll be looking at the three words it’s made up of, which are minor, seventh, and chord.

    Let’s take a closer look at these words.

    “What Is A Chord?”

    Although there are various definitions of the term chord, here’s a very simple definition you can always remember:

    A chord is a combination [or a collection] of three or more related notes played or heard together.

    – Jermaine Griggs (2008)

    There’s emphasis on the relationship between the notes that form a chord. This relationship is based on an [underlying] scale and [class of] harmony and the minor seventh is no exception.

    Suggested Reading: The Minor Seventh Chord.

    What Musicians Mean When They Say “Minor”

    There are two distinct musical qualities – major and minor. These qualities are influenced by two keys (aka – “tonalities”) – the major and the minor keys. Most ideas (be it scales, intervals, chords, progressions, and even songs) can be categorized into these two tonalities.

    When musicians use the term minor to define the minor seventh chord, they are making reference to its quality, which is inherited from the minor scale (the traditional scale of the minor key.)

    An Explanation Of The Term “Seventh”

    Harmonic ideas (like intervals and chords) are usually defined by their size, which is determined by the number of notes they encompass. Therefore, it’s common to hear the term seventh, ninth, eleventh, etc., and this depends on the number of notes the interval or chord encompasses.

    The minor seventh chord is a product of the relationship between the notes of the natural minor scale in interval of thirds and most importantly, encompassing seven degrees of the natural minor scale.

    Using the A minor scale:

    …as a reference, the A minor seventh chord:

    …encompasses seven degrees, from A to G:

    …in interval of thirds (aka – “tertian harmony“.)

    Here are the thirds…

    A to C:

    …a third, A-C to E:

    …another third, A-C-E to G:

    …another third.

    Altogether, A-C-E-G:

    …is the A minor seventh chord.

    In a nutshell, the minor seventh chord consists of a collection of notes (encompassing seven degrees of the scale) that are related by scale and harmony. Take note that the scale of the minor seventh chord is the natural minor scale, while the harmony of the minor seventh chord is based on interval of thirds (aka – “tertian harmony“.)

    Before we go on, here’s (for your reference) a transposition of the A minor seventh chord:

    …to other keys…

    Bb minor seventh:

    B minor seventh:

    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:

    Now that we’re done with an overview of the minor seventh chord, let’s go further into this study by taking a look at the perfect fifth interval.

    “What Is A Perfect Fifth Interval?”

    An interval is the relationship between two notes in terms of the distance between them.

    The relationship between the first and the fifth tones of the natural major scale produces the perfect fifth interval. Using the A major scale:

    …you can form the perfect fifth interval by a relationship between A and E:

    …which are its first and fifth tones.

    Submission: The relationship between the first and fifth tones of the minor scale produces the perfect fifth interval as well, however, we are opting for the major scale because it’s comparatively easier.

    Before you proceed, kindly take a look at the perfect fifth interval, transposed to all twelve keys…

    Perfect fifth on A:

    Perfect fifth on Bb:

    Perfect fifth on B:

    Perfect fifth on C:

    Perfect fifth on C#:

    Perfect fifth on D:

    Perfect fifth on Eb:

    Perfect fifth on E:

    Perfect fifth on F

    Perfect fifth on F#:

    Perfect fifth on G:

    Perfect fifth on G#:

    These perfect fifth intervals are the backbone of our study in today’s post. I’ll be showing you something about the minor seventh chord that has to do with perfect fifth intervals in the next segment.

    Mutual Perfect Fifth Intervals

    Pay attention to this…

    If you take a closer look at the A minor seventh chord:

    …you’ll see two mutual intervals – a perfect fifth interval in the keys of A:

    …and C:

    Let’s rearrange the minor seventh chord using our knowledge of the mutual perfect fifth intervals.

    The voicing of the A minor seventh chord above is formed by playing a perfect fifth interval in the key of A:

    ….on the left hand and a perfect fifth interval in the key of C:

    …on the right hand.

    Here’s an intervallic analysis of this voicing:

    …of the A minor seventh chord…

    The root and fifth tones are played on the left hand

    The third and seventh tones (aka – “the skeleton“) are played on the right hand.

    Attention: The third and seventh tones of a chord are called its skeleton because they outline the quality of the chord.

    In a nutshell, the skeleton of the A minor seventh chord on the right hand is played over its root and fifth on the left hand – two mutual perfect fifth intervals coming together to give you the A minor seventh chord.

    Once again, let’s transpose this voicing of the A minor seventh chord to all the keys…

    The C minor seventh:

    …which consists of a perfect fifth on C:

    …and a perfect fifth on Eb:

    The C# minor seventh:

    …which consists of a perfect fifth on C#:

    …and a perfect fifth on E:

    The D minor seventh:

    …which consists of a perfect fifth on D:

    …and a perfect fifth on F:

    The Eb minor seventh:

    …which consists of a perfect fifth on Eb:

    …and a perfect fifth on Gb:

    The E minor seventh:

    …which consists of a perfect fifth on E:

    …and a perfect fifth on G:

    The F minor seventh:

    …which consists of a perfect fifth on F:

    …and a perfect fifth on Ab:

    The F# minor seventh:

    …which consists of a perfect fifth on F#:

    …and a perfect fifth on A:

    The G minor seventh:

    …which consists of a perfect fifth on G:

    …and a perfect fifth on Bb:

    The G# minor seventh:

    …which consists of a perfect fifth on G#:

    …and a perfect fifth on B:

    The A minor seventh:

    …which consists of a perfect fifth on A:

    …and a perfect fifth on C:

    The Bb minor seventh:

    …which consists of a perfect fifth on Bb:

    …and a perfect fifth on Db:

    The B minor seventh:

    …which consists of a perfect fifth on B:

    …and a perfect fifth on D:

    Final Thoughts

    In addition to breaking up the notes of the minor seventh chord into these mutual intervals, you can reinforce the sound of this voicing by playing the perfect fifth intervals in octave position.

    For example, the A minor seventh chord consists of two mutual perfect fifth intervals – A-E:

    …and C-G:

    This voicing of the A minor seventh chord:

    …can be reinforced by playing the perfect fifth intervals (A-E and C-G) in octave position. Duplicating the bass note of each interval produces a perfect fifth interval in octave position.

    A-E:

    …in octave position becomes A-E-A:

    …while C-G:

    …in octave position becomes C-G-C:

    Playing the perfect fifth intervals in octave position:

    …produces the A minor seventh chord.

    Thank you for the time you’ve invested in this lesson and see you in another lesson where we’ll cover a lot more. 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 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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    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Ellis

    Hello I want to every note on c#

    Reply

    2 zino

    perfect 5th great

    Reply

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