Last Updated on May 14, 2019 by Klaus Crow
7th chords are over the place in every style of music.
There is the dominant 7th chord which is the main ingredient for blues and the major 7th chord which you can find a lot in jazz music, but also chords like the minor 7b5 and diminished 7 are part of the jazz chord vocabulary.
Well to be honest, I don’t think there is a 7th chord that you don’t find in jazz music.
The minor 7 and dominant 7 chords are very common in pop music and also the major 7 is not unusual. Today we’ll discuss the most common types of 7th chords in music.
For each 7th chord you can see four examples (see images below). The first two chords on the left are open chord shapes (containing open strings) and the two chords on the right are moveable chord shapes (containing no open strings). The first moveable chord has the root on the low E-string and the second has the root on the A-string. I’ll explain…
A moveable chord can be moved all across the neck and played in every key. For example if you take the Gmaj7 chord (see image below, third chord from the left). The note on the low E-string is your root note. In this example it’s a G note. If you move the entire chord up a half step (1 fret) it becomes a G#maj7 chord. Your root note has now moved up to the 4th fret low E-string which is a G# note. (So if your root note is a G# note that means your chord is G#maj7. Move the entire chord up another half step your root note becomes an A note so your chord becomes Amaj7.
The same applies for the moveable Cmaj7 chord shape (fourth chord from the left). Here the root note is on the A-string. The root note is on the third fret A-string which is a C note, so it’s a Cmaj7 chord. Move the entire chord up a whole step (2 frets) your root note becomes a D note so your chord becomes Dmaj7.
You can do this with all the other moveable chord shapes as well.
– Practice and memorize all the common types of 7th chords shown below.
– Play songs with 7th chords to hear and recognize how they are applied.
– Locate the root of the moveable chord shapes and practice them in different keys.
Okay, it’s time to expand your chord vocabulary!
Major chords consist of the root, 3rd and 5th notes of the major scale (1 3 5). The major 7th chord (Maj7) consists of the root, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the major scale (1 3 5 7). So the 7th note of the major scale is added to the major chord.
For example, if you take the C major scale = C D E F G A B C.
The Cmaj7 chord consists of the notes: C E G B (1 3 5 7).
If you take the G major scale = G A B C D E F# G.
The Gmaj7 chord consists of the notes: G B D F# (1 3 5 7)
The numbers on the dots in the chord diagrams above indicate the finger positioning:
1 = index finger, 2 = middle finger, 3 = ring finger, 4 = pinky
The “x” on top means that string is muted. The “o” means you play an open string.
The dominant 7th chord (dom7) consists of the root, 3rd, 5th and flatted (b) 7th notes of the major scale (1 3 5 b7).
C7 (Cdom7) = C E G Bb (1 3 5 b7)
G7 = (Gdom7) = G B D F (1 3 5 b7)
The minor 7th chord (m7) consists of the root, minor 3rd, 5th and flatted (b) 7th notes of the major scale (1 b3 5 b7).
Am7 = A C E G (1 b3 5 b7)
Em7 = E G B D (1 b3 5 b7)
MINOR MAJOR 7TH
The minor major 7th chord = m(maj7) consists of the root, minor 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the major scale (1 b3 5 7).
Am(maj7) = A C E G# (1 b3 5 7)
Em(maj7) = E G B D# (1 b3 5 7)
The minor 7b5 chord (m7b5), also called “half diminished” consists of the root, minor 3rd, flatted (b) 5th and flatted (b) 7th notes of the major scale (1 b3 b5 b7).
Am7b5 = A C Eb G (1 b3 b5 b7)
Em7b5 = E G Bb D (1 b3 b5 b7)
The diminished 7 chord (dim7), consists of the root, minor 3rd, flatted (b) 5th and double flatted (bb) 7th notes of the major scale (1 b3 b5 bb7). Which makes the double flatted 7th enharmonically the same as a major sixth. (bb7 = 6)
Adim7 = A C Eb Gb (1 b3 b5 bb7)
Edim7 = E G Bb Db (1 b3 b5 bb7)