Seventh Chords: How To Form, Play, & Use Them On The Piano

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Seventh Chords: How To Form, Play, & Use Them On The Piano

Good morning this is Duane. I’d like to talk today about how to play, how to form first of all play and use seventh chords on the piano. Seventh chords are very very useful, but there’s a quite of variety of them and I just want to go over that with you first and then talk about how to use them in some context. The most use kind of seventh chords is call the dominant seventh chords. If this is a C chord, we add the flatted seventh of the scale.

That creates a dominant seventh, and the dominant seventh always wants to move up and forth. 90% of the time are more that chord will move up the fourth. Well I ain’t got fourth, well four notes up from the root, one, two, three, four. C seventh likes to move to F you know that. That’s a natural chord progression. If we’re in the key of C, the … Well let’s go to the key of F. The seventh of the key of F is there and it wants to go up before to B flat.

If we’re in the key of G, the seventh chord wants to go to C up and forth. Seventh chord, dominant seventh chords want to move up the forth. We use those a lot in transition as we’re moving up the fourth. There’s another kind of seventh chords too called the major seventh chords and that’s form by using the scale seventh. If you were in the key of C, that would be B the seventh note of the C scale okay. That’s entirely different.

When you C7 in a shift music as notations, that always means the dominant seventh. If they want you to play B, they’ll say C maj7, C major 7 okay. That’s useful chord too, but it’s not use near as much as the dominant seventh chord. There’s other kind of sounds for example, A minor 7 chord would be like that. You can have a minor try it, plus the dominant seventh okay.

You can also have minor with a major seventh. That’s use very, very rare I think probably half percent of the time or maybe less in that but it’s possible. Also you can have a diminish chord with a major seventh, there’s also a chord called a diminish seventh. A diminish seventh is a diminish seventh is a diminish triad with a double flatted seventh. It looks like that, that’s the diminish seventh chord right there. It looks like a six. If you look up in your theory book that’s called the diminished seventh chord.

Diminished seventh. By the way there’s only three diminished seventh chords, that one, that one, and that one. Why because all the rest are inversions of the first one. In other words that is exactly the same as that. It’s just an inversion, it’s an upside down version of the same chord. By the way that’s often used in movies in the scary time, when there was some tension being build. It’s a national tension builder. Okay let’s get back to the dominant seventh and just use it in context. Let say I’m playing along.

See what I’m doing. I’m hanging my dominant seventh to each chord, and we’re back to C. I went all around the circle of this 12 degrees okay. Dominant seventh chords one to move up the forth naturally, and use that when you want to change from that chord to go up the fourth. Now let’s take up the major seventh chords because they are not use near as much but they’re beautiful I use them all the time, and they give that kind of feeling.

See that’s a major seventh chord isn’t it. Erroll Garner wrote that he purposely use that major seven chords because it creates that kind of mistier and nostalgic feeling. You can use it reversion too, I don’t use it that way very much because there’s too many times when B would be on top of the C chord. If I’m playing a song, like this with a C chord and I want to use a major seventh, I often do this. It creates that nice soft sound.

You can combine it with a major ninth as well, a major seventh with a ninth is a nice sound. See that major seventh and ninth. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a major chord like that, by turning it upside down and adding the major seventh okay. Bill Evans years ago played a famous piece called Peace Piece. It goes something like this. Just two chords most all the way through, the first chord is C major 7 and it has that peaceful sound, then he move up to F chord with G on the bottom.

This kind of a suspended kind of feeling, that’s actually a F ninth by the way. It’s an F chord with a ninth with it over C. There’s lots of way you can use that major seventh chord. There also good for using runs, like use the melody I can place the C chord but I can play in the major seventh, and run it up in the keyboard because that’s usually they do, they just break up those four notes and then tuck your thumb under. Then it gradually speed up okay.

Well that’s it for today, if you enjoy this little tips then come on over to and sign up for my free newsletter. The newsletter covers chords of all types including these and lots more and chord progressions. You’ll eventually get into chord progressions as well. That’s it for today, I’ll say goodbye and tune again tomorrow when we’ll take up another a little piano tip like this. Bye-bye for now.

Here is a Wikipedia article on seventh chords:

Here is a tutorial on 7th chords:

Here is a YouTube video on seventh chords:

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Seventh Chords: How To Form, Play, & Use Them On The Piano
I'd like to talk today about how to play, how to form first of all play and use seventh chords on the piano.
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