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Chord Extensions-Building 7th Chords April 8, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Beginner, Chords, Guitar Lessons, Music Theory.
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Now that you know how to build a chord and use it in a diatonic progressions (if you don’t, see diatonic harmony) we can take a look at making more complex harmonies and interesting sounding chords by using 7th chords.

A 7th chord is called an “extension” b/c you are adding additional notes to the 1-3-5 notes that compose a common triad. As the name indicates, we are adding the 7th note of the scale, so the chord has 4 notes, not 3.

There are 4 types of 7 chords that you need to know. Here are those 4 types and their formulas:

Major 7th chords: 1,3,5,7

7 chords (sometimes called dominant 7th chords, but that will be discussed in a later lesson): 1,3,5,b7

Minor 7th chords: 1, b3, 5, b7

Half Diminished 7: 1, b3, b5, b7

These 7 chords are built the same way that triads are built—by stacking 3rds. Lets take a look at some of these chords by using notes from the C major scale

C – D – E – F – G – A – B

Now lets build a Cmaj7 chord. To do that we will start stacking 3rds from the C note. So we have C,E,G,B, or 1,3,5,7. So Cmaj7 chord is spelled C,E,G,B. At the end of this lesson will have chord charts for how to play this chord on guitar.

Now lets build some more chords. Here are the 7 chords for D through B. In the prentices I will put that chords major scale so you can compare the notes with the formula used to derive the 7 chord.

ii Dm7 – D, F, A, C (1,b3,5,b7 of D major: D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D)

iii Em7 – E, G, B, D (1,b3,5,b7 of E major: E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#, E)

IV Fmaj7 – F, A, C, E (1,3,5,7 of F major: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F)

V G7 – G, B, D, F (1, 3, 5, b7 of G major: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G)

vi Am7 – A, C, E, G (1,b3,5,b7 of A major: A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A)

viiº Bm7b5 (AKA B half diminished) – B, D, F, A (1,b3,b5,b7 of B major: B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, B)

Here is a look at the easiest way to play these 7th chords on guitar. Note that there are MANY other way to play these 7 chords on guitar:
Cmaj7 guitar chord Dm7 guitar chord Em7 guitar chord Fmaj7 guitar chord G7 guitar chord Am7 guitar chordBm7b5 guitar chord
See a video of me playing these chords below:

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