• Demystified: “Part-Over-Root” Voicings of the Minor Seventh Chord

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano

    minor seventh chord

    Having covered the basics of the part-over-root voicing technique, it’s important for us to explore various chord qualities, especially the chord qualities used in the 2-5-1 chord progression.

    In a previous post, we covered “part-over-root” voicings of the major seventh chord. In this sequel post, we’ll be looking at chord formation of the minor seventh chord using the part-over-root voicing technique.

    If you invest the next 60 minutes or so, you’ll be learning how to achieve an overall minor seventh chord with simple right-hand major triads.

    Attention: If you are not familiar with major triads, you may find this post challenging at some point. Therefore, it is advised that you check out this post on major triads before going beyond this point.

    Quick Review of the Part-Over-Root Voicing Technique

    Let’s quickly review the part-over-root voicing technique.

    One of the easiest minor seventh chords to play on the keyboard is the D minor seventh chord:

    …which is pretty much a collection of four white notes stacked together by intervals of thirds.

    When we are talking about voicing, this simply refers to the consideration of the notes of a chord as voice parts – soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.

    In the case of the D minor seventh chord above…

    D is bass
    F is tenor
    A is Alto
    C is soprano

    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.

    Using the part-over-root voicing technique, the root of the D minor seventh chord (which is D) is played an octave lower.

    This produces a minor seventh chord whose root is isolated from other chord tones and that’s the idea.

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

    Considering that we’ve already covered part-over-root voicings of seventh chords, allow me at this point to get into the main business of this post.

    Harmonic Analysis of the Minor Seventh Chord

    The part-over-root voicing of the D minor seventh chord is F major over D:

    Let’s do a harmonic analysis of this voicing.

    Simply put, F is the part and D is the root. If you are familiar with the D minor scale:

    …you’ll easily notice the relationship between F and D as the third and first tones of the D minor scale.

    Considering that F:

    …is the third tone in the D natural minor scale, we can actually describe the D minor seventh chord in terms of part and root as…

    A major triad built on the third degree of the D minor scale.

    Suggested reading: Major Triads.

    If this is true for the D minor scale, then building a major triad on the third tone of any other minor scale on the keyboard will produce the minor seventh chord.

    “What Other Easier Way Can I figure out The Third Degree Of The Minor Scale?”

    If you’re not so familiar with the minor scale, don’t panic.

    I’m going to show you the easiest way to know the particular note that is the third degree of the minor scale of any given key.

    In between the first and third tones of any minor scale is a minor third interval. In the D minor scale:

    …where the first and third tones are D and F:

    …we can break it down further into half steps. From D to F consists of three half steps.

    D-Eb (1 half step):

    Eb-E (2 half steps):

    E to F (3 half steps):

    Therefore, the distance between the first and third tones of the minor scale is three half steps.

    Three half steps from C is Eb:

    …therefore, the third tone of the C minor scale is Eb.

    Three half steps from Eb is Gb:

    …therefore, the third tone of the Eb minor scale is Gb.

    However, while using this easier route, it’s possible to arrive at wrong spellings if you’re not careful. This is because of homonyms in music. Here’s what I mean…

    Three half steps from C can also be seen as D#:

    …however, the third tone of the C minor scale is not D#.

    Three half steps from Eb can be seen as F#:

    …however, the third tone of the Eb minor scale is not F#.

    If you’re guilty of the musical equivalent of spelling “their” as “there”, then sign up for our new course on intervals and overcome these spelling dysfunction.

    Chord Formation Exercises In All Keys

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

    I cannot overemphasize the benefits of this exercise if practiced in all keys. One thing is sure and that is mastery of the minor 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 minor seventh chords in all keys, yield yourself to this exercise. At the very most, this exercise shouldn’t exceed one hour.

    These exercises are arranged to follow the musicical clock (aka – “circle of fifths/fourths”):
    circleoffiths1
    …and we’ll be going clockwise from Am to Em, to Bm, etc., using the inner circle.

    Exercise #1 – A minor seventh

    Formation of the A minor seventh chord will require knowledge of the A minor 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 major triad on the third degree of the A minor scale (which is C) would produce C major over A:

    …(aka – “A minor seventh”).

    Exercise #2 – E minor seventh

    Formation of the E minor seventh chord will require knowledge of the E minor 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 major triad on the third degree of the E minor scale (which is G) would produce G major over E:

    …(aka – “E minor seventh”).

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

    Exercise #3 – B minor seventh

    Formation of the B minor seventh chord will require knowledge of the B minor 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 major triad on the third degree of the B minor scale (which is D) would produce D major over B:

    …(aka – “B minor seventh”).

    Exercise #4 – F# minor seventh

    Formation of the F# minor seventh chord will require knowledge of the F# minor 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 major triad on the third degree of the F# minor scale (which is A) would produce A major over F#:

    …(aka – “F# minor seventh”).

    Exercise #5 – C# minor seventh

    Formation of the C# minor seventh chord will require knowledge of the C# minor 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 major triad on the third degree of the C# minor scale (which is E) would produce E major over C#:

    …(aka – “C# minor seventh”).

    Exercise #6 – G# minor seventh

    Formation of the G# minor seventh chord will require knowledge of the G# minor 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 major triad on the third degree of the G# minor scale (which is B) would produce B major over G#:

    …(aka – “G# minor seventh”).

    Exercise #7 – Eb minor seventh

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

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

    …respectively.

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

    …(aka – “Eb minor seventh”).

    Exercise #8 – Bb minor seventh

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

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

    …respectively.

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

    …(aka – “Bb minor seventh”).

    Exercise #9 – F minor seventh

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

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

    …respectively.

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

    …(aka – “F minor seventh”).

    Exercise #10 – C minor seventh

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

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

    …respectively.

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

    …(aka – “C minor seventh”).

    Exercise #11 – G minor seventh

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

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

    …respectively.

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

    …(aka – “G minor seventh”).

    Exercise #12 – D minor seventh

    Formation of the D minor seventh chord will require knowledge of the D minor 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 major triad on the third degree of the D minor scale (which is F) would produce F major over D:

    …(aka – “D minor seventh”).

    To a large extent, the “part-over-root” voicing of minor seventh chords depend on one’s familiarity of major triads in all keys.

    Also, if you’re interested in another set of twelve exercises for major seventh chords, click here.

    Final Words

    Think about the ease of using major triads to achieve an overall minor seventh chord.

    In contemporary times, triads are almost labeled “old school” because everyone is crazy about complicated and altered chords.

    However, with the “part-over-root” voicing technique, every serious pianist can make triads more useful.

    I am privileged to share the little I know about this subject with you. Now that we’re done, I hope you realize that it’s your duty to make this exercise an active part of your practice warmup for the next few days.

    It’s bye for now.

    All the best!

    P.S.

    Our FREE 16-week chord revival program is on!

    We’re covering major triads and 15 other chords, including triads, sixths, sevenths, ninths, and more.

    If every effort towards mastery of chords has defied you, our 16-week program will certainly put all chord qualities within your grasp.

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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

    Very good detail

    Reply

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