A Seventh Chord is typically a four-note chord that includes some kind of 7 in its chord structure.  Here is a gallery of the five most commonly-encountered…

Major Seventh (chord symbol = Cmaj7, CM7, or CΔ7, chord structure = 1-3-5-7)

A great way to develop your chord vocabulary is to relate new chords to chords you already know. For example, notice that Cmaj7 is a C major triad (something you already know) plus one more note: B.

piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-major-seventh-notation

piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-major-seventh-keyboard

Listen… and notice the colorful, sweet, dissonant, jazzy quality of the major 7 chord compared to the major triad…

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FYI, the Major Seventh chord is most often used in two ways:

  • Tonic Imaj7 chord in a major tonality.
  • Tension chord (examples: IVmaj7 in major tonality or bVImaj7 in minor tonality)

You will learn lots more about chord functions when you study chord progressions.


Minor Seventh (Cm7, Cmin7, Cmi7, or C-7, 1-b3-5-b7)

Notice that Cm7 is a C minor triad (something you already know) with one more note (Bb) added.piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-minor-seventh-notation

piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-minor-seventh-keyboard

Listen… and notice how the additional note Bb adds some color to the already dark minor triad.

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FYI, the Minor Seventh chord is most often used in two ways:

  • Tonic i7 chord in a Dorian or minor blues tonality.
  • Tension chord (examples: ii7, iii7, vi7 in major tonality and iv7 in minor tonality).

You will learn lots more about chord functions when you study chord progressions.


Dominant Seventh (C7, 1-3-5-b7)

The Dominant Seventh chord is commonly called just a “7” chord for short.

Notice that C7 is a C major triad (something you already know) plus one more note: Bb.piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-dominant-seventh-notation

piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-dominant-seventh-keyboard

Listen… and notice the unstable, dissonant quality of the dominant seventh chord… like it needs to go somewhere.

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FYI, the Dominant Seventh chord is most often used in two ways:

  • V7 in major tonality.
  • V7 in minor tonality.
  • I7, IV7, V7 in blues tonality.
  • secondary dominant (V7/x) in a major or blues tonality.
  • to set up a change in key center .

You will learn lots more about chord functions when you study chord progressions.


Diminished Seventh (Cdim7 or C°7: 1-b3-b5-bb7)

Notice that C°7 is a C diminished triad (something you already know) plus one more note: Bbb.
piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-diminished-seventh-notation

piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-diminished-seventh-keyboard

Notice the highly unstable, dissonant quality of the diminished seventh chord… like it needs to go somewhere:

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FYI, the Diminished Seventh chord functions like a dominant seventh chord. It typically acts in either of three ways:

  • viio7 in a minor tonality.
  • secondary dominant viio7/x.
  • Tension chord that sets up a change in key center, typically to a minor tonality.

You will learn lots more about chord functions when you study chord progressions.


Half-Diminished Seventh (C∅7 or Cm7b5: 1-b3-b5-b7)

Notice that this is a C diminished triad (something you already know) with one more note (Bb) added.piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-half-diminished-seventh-notation

piano-ology-chords-seventh-chords-you-gotta-know-half-diminished-seventh-keyboard

Notice the unstable, dissonant quality of the half-diminished seventh chord…

Audio: please specify correct url

FYI, the Half-Diminished Seventh chord, also called a “minor seventh, flat 5”, is most often used in two ways:

  • as part of a iiø7-V7-i chord progression in a minor tonality.
  • as part of iiø7-V7 secondary dominant.

You will learn lots more about chord functions when you study chord progressions.

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