• “Part-Over-Root” Voicings Of The Major Seventh Chord In All 12 Keys

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano

    major seventh chord

    In a previous lesson, we began a discussion about the part-over-root voicing technique.

    Now that we’re familiar with its basics, I’ll be slowing things down and taking you through the formation of the major seventh chord using this voicing technique.

    At the end of this post, you’ll be able to form the major seventh chord in any key.

    Quick Review of the Part-Over-Root Voicing Technique

    Below is the keyboard style voicing of the classic C major seventh chord:

    A voicing is the consideration of these notes as voice parts – soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.

    This consideration leads to the rearrangement of the notes of a chord from the regular keyboard style to create new arrangements (aka – “voicings”) using voicing techniques.

    In the part-over-root voicing technique, we’re rearranging (or voicing) chords in a way that the root is isolated from other parts of the chord.

    In this simple voicing technique, the root of the C major seventh chord (C) is played an octave lower. This would produce the part-over-root voicing of the C major seventh chord:

    Further reading: Part-Over-Root Voicings Of Seventh Chords.

    Going beyond this point will favor those who are already familiar with the part-over-root voicing technique, and this is because the goal of this post is to explore chord formation, and not to cover the basics again.

    Chord Formation of the Major Seventh Chord

    The part-over-root voicing of the C major seventh chord is E minor over C:

    Let’s do a harmonic analysis of this voicing.

    Simply put, E is the part and C is the root. These two notes (E and C) are closely related by the C major scale:

    Considering that E:

    …is the third tone in the major scale of C, we can actually describe the chord formation of the seventh chord as…

    Building a minor triad on the third degree of the C major scale.

    Suggested reading: Minor Triads.

    If this is true for the C major scale, then building a minor triad on the third degree of any other major scale would produce the major seventh chord.

    Chord Formation Exercise In All Keys

    Let’s do a chord formation exercise in all keys.

    If you go through this exercise in all keys, I can almost guarantee your mastery of the major seventh chord in all keys.

    Duration: Each exercise should last for 5 minutes. Don’t be in a hurry. Remember that repetition is the mother of skill. If you really want to master major seventh chords in all keys, yield yourself to this exercise. At the very most, this exercise shouldn’t exceed one hour.

    The exercise is arranged to follow the music clock (aka – “cycle of fifths/fourths”):
    circleoffiths1
    …and we’ll be going counter clockwise from C to F, to Bb, etc.

    Exercise #1 – C major seventh

    Formation of the C major seventh chord will require knowledge of the C major scale:

    Two important notes in this scale are the first and third tones which are C and E:

    …respectively.

    With the C note on the bass, building a minor triad on the third degree of the C major scale (which is E) would produce E minor over C:

    …(aka – “C major seventh”).

    Exercise #2 – F major seventh

    Formation of the F major seventh chord will require knowledge of the F major scale:

    Two important notes in this scale are the first and third tones which are F and A:

    …respectively.

    With the F note on the bass, building a minor triad on the third degree of the F major scale (which is A) would produce A minor over F:

    …(aka – “F major seventh”).

    Here are the other 10 part-over-root voicings for the remainder keys…

    Exercise #3 – Bb major seventh

    Formation of the Bb major seventh chord will require knowledge of the Bb major scale:

    Two important notes in this scale are the first and third tones which are Bb and D:

    …respectively.

    With the Bb note on the bass, building a minor triad on the third degree of the Bb major scale (which is D) would produce D minor over Bb:

    …(aka – “Bb major seventh”).

    Exercise #4 – Eb major seventh

    Formation of the Eb major seventh chord will require knowledge of the Eb major scale:

    Two important notes in this scale are the first and third tones which are Eb and G:

    …respectively.

    With the Eb note on the bass, building a minor triad on the third degree of the Eb major scale (which is G) would produce G minor over Eb:

    …(aka – “Eb major seventh”).

    Exercise #5 – Ab major seventh

    Formation of the Ab major seventh chord will require knowledge of the Ab major scale:

    Two important notes in this scale are the first and third tones which are Ab and C:

    …respectively.

    With the Ab note on the bass, building a minor triad on the third degree of the Ab major scale (which is C) would produce C minor over Ab:

    …(aka – “Ab major seventh”).

    Exercise #6 – Db major seventh

    Formation of the Db major seventh chord will require knowledge of the Db major scale:

    Two important notes in this scale are the first and third tones which are Db and F:

    …respectively.

    With the Db note on the bass, building a minor triad on the third degree of the Db major scale (which is F) would produce F minor over Db:

    …(aka – “Db major seventh”).

    Exercise #7 – Gb major seventh

    Formation of the Gb major seventh chord will require knowledge of the Gb major scale:

    Two important notes in this scale are the first and third tones which are Gb and Bb:

    …respectively.

    With the Gb note on the bass, building a minor triad on the third degree of the Gb major scale (which is Bb) would produce Bb minor over Gb:

    …(aka – “Gb major seventh”).

    Exercise #8 – B major seventh

    Formation of the B major seventh chord will require knowledge of the B major scale:

    Two important notes in this scale are the first and third tones which are B and D#:
    …respectively.

    With the B note on the bass, building a minor triad on the third degree of the B major scale (which is D#) would produce D# minor over B:

    …(aka – “B major seventh”).

    Exercise #9 – E major seventh

    Formation of the E major seventh chord will require knowledge of the E major scale:

    Two important notes in this scale are the first and third tones which are E and G#:

    …respectively.

    With the E note on the bass, building a minor triad on the third degree of the E major scale (which is G#) would produce G# minor over E:

    …(aka – “E major seventh”).

    Exercise #10 – A major seventh

    Formation of the A major seventh chord will require knowledge of the A major scale:

    Two important notes in this scale are the first and third tones which are A and C#:

    …respectively.

    With the A note on the bass, building a minor triad on the third degree of the A major scale (which is C#) would produce C# minor over A:

    …(aka – “A major seventh”).

    Exercise #11 – D major seventh

    Formation of the D major seventh chord will require knowledge of the D major scale:

    Two important notes in this scale are the first and third tones which are D and F#:

    …respectively.

    With the D note on the bass, building a minor triad on the third degree of the D major scale (which is F#) would produce F# minor over D:

    …(aka – “D major seventh”).

    Exercise #12 – G major seventh

    Formation of the G major seventh chord will require knowledge of the G major scale:

    Two important notes in this scale are the first and third tones which are G and B:

    …respectively.

    With the G note on the bass, building a minor triad on the third degree of the G major scale (which is B) would produce B minor over G:

    …(aka – “G major seventh”).

    The part-over-root voicing of the major seventh chord depends on your familiarity of minor triads in all keys. If you are yet to master minor triads in all keys, click here to get started.

    Final Words

    Here’s the C major ninth chord:

    Isolating the bass from other chord tones would produce:

    Looking at the part:

    …what we have here is an E minor seventh chord.

    Therefore, we can say that E minor seventh:

    …over C on the bass:

    …would produce:

    …C major ninth chord.

    In a subsequent post, I’ll be breaking down bigger chords like this using the part-over-root voicing technique.

    Until then.

     

    P.S.

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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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