• Exploring The Major Seventh Chord As Mutual Third Intervals

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano,Theory

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    In this lesson, we’ll be exploring the major seventh chord as mutual third intervals.

    It was in a previous lesson that we began our discussion on the perception of the major seventh chord as mutual perfect fifth intervals.

    This lesson offers another exciting perspective because you’ll be learning how to break up a major seventh chord into two mutual third intervals, but before we get into all that, let’s do a quick review of the major seventh chord.

    “What Is A Major Seventh Chord?”

    A chord is a collection of related notes that are played or heard together. The major seventh chord is built off the relationship of the notes of the major scale, in intervals of a third.

    Talking about the relationship between the notes of the major seventh chord, it’s as simple as stacking notes in thirds until seven degrees of the major scale is encompassed.

    For instance, using the C major scale:

    …we can stack notes in thirds thus…
    A third from C:

    …is E:

    A third from C-E:

    …is G:

    A third from C-E-G:

    …is B:

    Altogether, C-E-G-B:

    …is a major seventh chord, derived from the C major scale and it encompasses seven degrees of the C major scale from C to B:

    In this post, my duty is to show you the major seventh chord in another light that would help you understand it better, not necessarily for the purpose of its formation, but for the purposes of remembering it with absolute ease whenever you need to and also for an effective application in chord progressions.

    For reference purposes here are the major seventh chords in all the keys…
    C major seventh:

    Db major seventh:

    D major seventh:

    Eb major seventh:

    E major seventh:

    F major seventh:

    Gb major seventh:

    G major seventh:

    Ab major seventh:

    A major seventh:

    Bb major seventh:

    B major seventh:

    “Did You Know That Two Mutual Third Intervals Can Form The Major Seventh Chord?”

    Pay attention to this!

    A careful examination of the major seventh chord will reveal two mutual third intervals. For example, using the C major seventh chord:

    …as an example, the major seventh chord can be broken down into two third intervals…

    A major third interval in the key of C:

    …and a major third interval in the key of G:

    “What Is A Major Third?”

    A major third is a relationship between the first and the third tones of any given major scale. In the key of C major:

    …the first three tones of the C major scale are C, D, and E:

    This explains why C-E:

    …is a major third, because it encompasses three degrees of the C major scale.

    Also, in the key of G:

    …G, A, and B:

    …are the first three tones of the G major scale:

    …consequently, G-B:

    …encompasses an interval of a third in the G major scale.

    In a nutshell, the C major seventh chord can be broken down to two major third intervals…

    C-E:

    …a major third in the key of C, and G-B:

    …a major third in the key of G.

    I’ll be showing you the benefits of understanding major seventh chords as two mutual third intervals in the next segment, but before then, here’s a breakdown of major seventh chords into mutual third intervals in all twelve keys…

    The Db major seventh chord:

    …consists of Db-F:

    …a major third in the key of Db, and Ab-C:

    …a major third in the key of Ab.

    The D major seventh chord:

    …consists of D-F#:

    …a major third in the key of D, and A-C#:

    …a major third in the key of A.

    The Eb major seventh chord:

    …consists of Eb-G:

    …a major third in the key of Eb, and Bb-D:

    …a major third in the key of Bb.

    The E major seventh chord:

    …consists of E-G#:

    …a major third in the key of E, and B-D#:

    …a major third in the key of B.

    The F major seventh chord:

    …consists of F-A:

    …a major third in the key of F, and C-E:

    …a major third in the key of C.

    The Gb major seventh chord:

    …consists of Gb-Bb:

    …a major third in the key of Gb, and Db-F:

    …a major third in the key of Db.

    The G major seventh chord:

    …consists of G-B:

    …a major third in the key of G, and D-F#:

    …a major third in the key of D.

    The Ab major seventh chord:

    …consists of Ab-C:

    …a major third in the key of Ab, and Eb-G:

    …a major third in the key of Eb.

    The A major seventh chord:

    …consists of A-C#:

    …a major third in the key of A, and E-G#:

    …a major third in the key of E.

    The Bb major seventh chord:

    …consists of Bb-D:

    …a major third in the key of Bb, and F-A:

    …a major third in the key of F.

    The B major seventh chord:

    …consists of B-D#:

    …a major third in the key of B, and F#-A#:

    …a major third in the key of F#.

    Use Of The Mutual Third Intervals In Chord Voicing

    Knowing the mutual third intervals of the major seventh chord can influence the way you voice it because it helps you separate the two thirds and consequently the A and B voicing technique.

    “Did I just say A and B voicing technique? Alright! Here’s how it works…”

    When a chord is played in such a way that the the third tone comes before the seventh tone, the chord is said to be in A voicing, while a chord that is played in such a way that the seventh tone comes before the third tone is said to be in B voicing.

    In the case of the C major seventh when played in root position:

    …is said to be in A voicing because E:

    …which is the third tone, comes before B:

    …which is the seventh tone.

    If the C major seventh chord is played in its second inversion:

    …with B:

    …the seventh tone, coming before E:

    …the third tone, this is called the B voicing of the C major seventh chord.

    “Now, Back To Mutual Third Intervals…”

    Since you already know that the C major seventh chord:

    …can be dissected into two major third intervals – C-E:

    …and G-B:

    It won’t be difficult to explain that a rearrangement of the mutual third intervals of the C major seventh chord changes it from A voicing to B voicing and vice versa.

    Check it out…

    The C major seventh chord above is in A voicing because E:

    …comes before B:

    …also take note that C-E:

    …came before G-B:

    However, if we rearrange the thirds in such a way that G-B:

    …comes before C-E:

    …this produces the B voicing of the C major seventh chord:

    …where B:

    …the seventh tone, comes before E:

    …the third tone.

    Understanding other major seventh chords as mutual third intervals can also provides you with a less challenging and more interesting way of voicing them.

    “Let’s take three examples…”

    Example #1 – The D major Seventh Chord

    Thinking of the D major seventh chord:

    …as two mutual thirds in the keys of D (D-F#):

    …and A (A-C#):

    …helps you move from its A voicing:

    …to its B voicing:

    …merely by rearranging the order of the third intervals.

    D major third before A major third:

    …produces the A voicing of the D major seventh chord, while A major third before D major third:

    …produces the B voicing of the D major seventh chord.

    Example #2 – The F major Seventh Chord

    Thinking of the F major seventh chord:

    …as two mutual thirds in the keys of F (F-A):

    …and C (C-E):

    …helps you move from its A voicing:

    …to its B voicing:

    …merely by rearranging the order of the third intervals.

    F major third before C major third:

    …produces the A voicing of the F major seventh chord, while C major third before F major third:

    …produces the B voicing of the F major seventh chord.

    Example #3 – The Bb major Seventh Chord

    Thinking of the Bb major seventh chord:

    …as two mutual thirds in the keys of Bb (Bb-D):

    …and F (F-A):

    …helps you move from its A voicing:

    …to its B voicing:

    …merely by rearranging the order of the third intervals.

    Bb major third before F major third:

    …produces the A voicing of the Bb major seventh chord, while F major third before Bb major third:

    …produces the B voicing of the Bb major seventh chord.

    Final Words

    It may not be easy to see the major seventh as mutual third intervals, however, if you dwell on what we’ve studied today for a while, you’ll gradually get acquainted to it and trust me -it’ll pay off.

    Thank you for your time!

     

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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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