Hey gang! Still with me? Alright, great. Let’s move on to the next part of constructing chords.
In our last article, we discussed how you can build triads from the major scale which are the foundation of chords. That’s all well and good, but what happens when you want to add an extension? Where do 7th chords come from? What is this madness!
Luckily, if you’ve been following along so far, this will be a snap.
So let’s refresh our memories. By now, you should know the notes in the key of C. What are they?!!
C D E F G A B C
We said that we can stack these in thirds to make triads. Now, if we take this one step further, you can stack them into tetrad, or four note harmonies.
Starting on C, we then add the notes E, G and B. This gives us a Major 7th (maj7) chord. A major 7th chord is made up of the root, major third, fifth, and major seventh. This is a formula for all major 7th chords.
A Minor 7th (min7) on the other hand is made up of the following: root, minor third, fifth, and minor (flat) seventh. If you follow the notes from D, you get F, A, and C.
Now, there is another type of 7th chord with which you may be familiar: the dominant 7th (7th or dom7th).
The dominant 7th chord is made up of the root, major third, fifth and a flat seventh. In this case, the notes would be C, E, G, and Bb! Crazy right?
A dominant 7th chord is different than a major 7th. The dominant 7th chord comes off of the fifth note in the scale. In the key of C, that makes the G chord a dominant 7th. Play a G7th followed by a Cmaj7. Note that they sound very nice when played one after the other. That’s because they resolve beautifully. And it’s all about resolution.
Remember that pesky diminished chord? Well, that opens up a whole other can of worms.
A diminished triad is:
Root b3 b5.
But, if you harmonize a scale in 7ths, on the 7th degree (in this case B) you get
Root b3 b5 b7
This is known as either a half diminished seventh or, more commonly, a minor seventh flat five chord.
A diminished 7th on the other hand is:
Root b3 b5 bb7 (6)
Cdim = C Eb Gb
Cdim7 = C Eb Gb A
Cmin7b5= C Eb Gb Bb
These are particularly frustrating to understand at first, but as you can see, it is no big thing.
In our next article, we will discuss “flavoring” chords with jazzy spices. A very tasty soup indeed!