May 15, 2008

7th Chord Structures - pt. 1

7th Chord Structures - pt. 1

As promised, today's topic will be about the infamous 7th chord. 7th chord structures present a very unique sound and can give any musician a unique perspective on their playing, especially when 7ths are mixed with other chord structures.

The 7th chord is generally used in Jazz, Blues and Latin music, but there are many ways to incorporate its pure sound into other genres of music.

To be honest with you, 7th chords are not hard to learn, but there are so many principles that apply. That is why I have chosen to keep this entry simple. In a later entry, I will expand upon the many variations of a 7th chord.

I'll show you the formula for creating a Major 7th chord out of any major scale and I will do the same with a Minor 7th chord. Keep in mind that this article is a follow up to the last one, which was about power chords. I spoke in the last entry of a very specific teaching style known as Metacognition. I am very fond of using this method to teach myself things, as well as to teach others.

The definition of Metacognition, as I had explained before, is the study of study. It sounds redundant, but it is far from. When it is in use, it means that you are learning something new by assimilating it with something that you already know. Scientists now know that this is indeed how the brain processes and compartmentalizes new information.

So, to start you off in the wonderful world of 7th chords, I'm going to show you the easier variations of them. I'm going to show you barre 7ths. I'm doing this because they are very similar to the power chord structure, yet they still retain the 7th sound, and much like the power chord, the fingering changes little.

Let's get started!

The Triads and the Power chords were both similar in the sense that those structures were created from taking 3 distinct notes from the major scale, to construct those chords.

This time, with 7ths, you are using 4 distinct notes.

The Major 7th formula (1, 3, 5, 7)
The Minor 7th formula (1,b3,5, b7)

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I have, as usual, posted the major scale with the actual notes defined. If you want to do a little "homework" feel free to locate these notes on your guitar and make an attempt to arrange them into the proper chord. Its not rocket science - I always rely on my ear when I feel a little confused at times and training your ear is better than theory.

One thing that you should realize is that the barre chord versions of these founding 7ths present a slightly different sound, in terms of voicing. Eventually, we will cover as many of the 7th chord structures as possible, but there are a lot and there's so much to discuss outside of chords. In the mean time, this should wet your appetite until we come to that bridge.

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