• A Break Down Of The Minor Seventh Chord Into Two Mutual Third Intervals

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano,Theory

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    We will be doing a break down of the minor seventh chord into mutual third intervals in this lesson.

    The minor seventh chord is one of the seventh chords that can be formed on the second, third, and sixth degrees of any minor key. Although we’ve explored the minor seventh chord in our free 16 week chord revival program, there are still lots of areas that we haven’t touched yet and one of them is the aspect of the mutual third intervals.

    The understanding of the minor seventh chord as mutual third intervals is one simple perspective to chord formation and voicing that will take your knowledge of the minor seventh chord to another level!

    To get started with this lesson, let’s prepare our minds by doing a quick review on the minor seventh chord.

    “What Is A Minor Seventh Chord?”

    A chord is a collection of related notes that are played or heard together.

    The minor seventh chord is built off the relationship of the notes of the natural minor scale, in intervals of a third.

    Anyone can form the minor seventh chord by stacking the notes of the natural minor scale in intervals of thirds until he/she encompasses seven degrees of the scale.

    Using the A natural scale:

    …we can stack notes in thirds thus…

    A third from A:

    …is C:

    A third from A-C:

    …is E:

    A third from A-C-E:

    …is G:

    Altogether, we have A-C-E-G:

    …which is the A minor seventh chord, and encompassing seven degrees of the A natural minor scale:

    …from A to G:

    If you transpose this minor seventh chord to all twelve keys on the keyboard, you’ll have the following minor seventh chords…

    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:

    What Intervals Are To Chords

    Although a knowledge of what a chord is, its formation (and all worth naught) are important, it’s equally important for us to break down chords into intervals.

    The perceptible intervals in any given chord are known as intervallic constituents.

    In the A minor seventh chord:

    …you can see the following intervals…

    A-C:

    …a minor third.

    A-E:

    …a perfect fifth.

    A-G:

    …a minor seventh.

    These intervallic constituents of the minor seventh chord – the minor third, perfect fifth, and minor seventh intervals – contribute to the overall quality [and harmonic attributes] of the minor seventh chord.

    According to Jermaine Griggs, “Considering that intervals are the building blocks of chords, understanding a chord and its properties becomes clearer when you analyze its intervallic constituents.”

    Mutual Intervals

    We’re looking at the minor seventh in this lesson from an intervallic perspective.

    A closer look at the A minor seventh chord:

    …reveals two mutual third intervals…

    A minor third interval in the key of A:

    …and a minor third interval in the key of E:

    At this point, it’s necessary for us to do a review on the minor third interval.

    A Quick Review On The Minor Third Interval

    The relationship between the first and the third tones of any given natural minor scale produces the minor third interval. In the key of A minor:

    …where the first three tones are A, B, and C:

    …A-C:

    …is a minor third interval, because it encompasses three degrees of the A natural minor scale:

    “Back to Mutual Intervals”

    The A minor seventh chord:

    …[just like every other minor seventh chord on the keyboard], can be broken down into two minor third intervals…

    A-C:

    …a minor third interval in the key of A, and E-G:

    …a minor third interval in the key of E.

    Here’s a breakdown of minor seventh chords into mutual third intervals in all twelve keys…

    The C# minor seventh chord:

    …consists of C#-E:

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

    …a minor third in the key of G#.

    The D minor seventh chord:

    …consists of D-F:

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

    …a minor third in the key of A.

    The Eb minor seventh chord:

    …consists of Eb-Gb:

    …a minor third in the key of Eb, and Bb-Db:

    …a minor third in the key of Bb.

    The E minor seventh chord:

    …consists of E-G:

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

    …a minor third in the key of B.

    The F minor seventh chord:

    …consists of F-Ab:

    …a minor third in the key of F, and C-Eb:

    …a minor third in the key of C.

    The F# minor seventh chord:

    …consists of F#-A:

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

    …a minor third in the key of C#.

    The G minor seventh chord:

    …consists of G-Bb:

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

    …a minor third in the key of D.

    The G# minor seventh chord:

    …consists of G#-B:

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

    …a minor third in the key of D#.

    The A minor seventh chord:

    …consists of A-C:

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

    …a minor third in the key of E.

    The Bb minor seventh chord:

    …consists of Bb-Db:

    …a minor third in the key of Bb, and F-Ab:

    …a minor third in the key of F.

    The B minor seventh chord:

    …consists of B-D:

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

    …a minor third in the key of F#.

    Use Of The Mutual Third Intervals In Chord Voicing

    The minor third intervals we broke down the minor seventh chord into, can be called mutual third intervals.

    These mutual third intervals can shape the way you voice the minor seventh chord. Let’s round up by exploring the A and B voicing of the minor seventh chord which is directly related to what we just studied. 

    The A and B Voicing Technique

    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.

    When the A minor seventh is played in its root position:

    …it is said to be in A voicing because C:

    …which is the third tone, comes before G:

    …which is the seventh tone.

    If the A minor seventh chord is played in its second inversion:

    …with G:

    …the seventh tone, coming before C:

    …the third tone, this is called the B voicing of the A minor seventh chord.

    “Now, Back To Mutual Third Intervals…”

    Since you already know that the A minor seventh chord:

    …can be dissected into two minor third intervals – A-C:

    …and E-G:

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

    “It’s simpler than it sounds”

    Check it out…

    The A minor seventh chord above is in A voicing because C:

    …comes before G:

    …also take note that A-C:

    …came before E-G:

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

    …comes before A-C:

    …this produces the B voicing of the A minor seventh chord:

    …where G:

    …the seventh tone, comes before C:

    …the third tone.

    If you can understand all minor seventh chords on the keyboard as mutual third intervals, you’ll find it less challenging to play the A and B voicing of the minor seventh chord.

    “Here’s another example…”

    The E minor seventh Chord

    Thinking of the E minor seventh chord:

    …as two mutual thirds in the keys of E (E-G):

    …and B (B-D):

    …helps you move from its A voicing:

    …to its B voicing:

    …merely by rearranging the order of the third intervals.

    E minor third before B minor third:

    …produces the A voicing of the E minor seventh chord, while B minor third before E minor third:

    …produces the B voicing of the E minor seventh chord.

    Final Words

    Now that you’ve understood the minor seventh chord as two mutual third intervals, also check out this post on the major seventh chord as two mutual third intervals.

    Though you may find this perspective challenging, it’s rewarding at the end of the day. All you just need to do is to keep thinking about it and practicing it until you eventually get acquainted with it.

    Thank you for your time!

    P.S.

    Here are the minor third intervals 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:


    Learning them is of the greatest valuable importance because all minor seventh chords on the keyboard contain two minor third intervals.

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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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    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Peter LaFosse

    I find it interesting to find new ways to learn music theory. Thanks

    Reply

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