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Old 08-25-2013, 05:24 AM   #1
innovine
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Introducing seventh chords

Hi,
can anyone give me some advice on adding a few sevenths into my chord progressions, and what kind of theory guidelines or common uses exist?

I understand how chords are constructed, and where the Maj, min, min, Maj, Maj, min, dim comes from (and for minor keys) but I'm very vague on when to introduce sevenths and when to play just a triad. Some tips would be very appreciated.
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:43 AM   #2
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You can play m7 chords instead of minor triads. Maj7 chords have to be used a little more tastefully, they don't always work.

So you know how to harmonize the major scale?

Last edited by mdc : 08-25-2013 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 08-25-2013, 09:12 AM   #3
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To learn chord voicings, you need to know which notes pull to which notes. Learn functional harmony and you will be using 7th chords all over the place.
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Old 08-25-2013, 12:53 PM   #4
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The dominant 7 is the most obvious place to start. Its a major chord with a minor 7th. It occurs naturally on the V chord in your key and it resolves strongly to your 1 chord.

So if you were in C major, you would play G7 - C


You can also experiment with the ii - V - I. This is a common jazz progression that will help you get a feel for 7th chords.

If you were in C major, you would play Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7

You can try those out and see how they sound to you. Try playing the progression using just triads, just 7ths, and then maybe a mix of the two to get a feel for how the different chord qualities sound and work together.

As for incorporating 7ths into your own progressions, just start substituting 7ths in the place of triads and see what you like and what you dont. Once you get familiar with the sound and feel of certain chord qualities, it will be natural, it just takes time to get there. Good luck!
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Old 08-25-2013, 04:23 PM   #5
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A minor 7th chord is a minor chord with a minor 7th added. eg, Am7 = A C E G
A major 7th chord is a major chord with a major 7th added. eg, Cmaj7 = C E G B
A dominant 7th chord, usually just referred to as a seventh chord and written C7, is a major chord with a MINOR seventh added. So C E G Bb. This is often called a dominant 7th because it occurs naturally only on the fifth degree of the major scale.

There's only one way to start composing intelligently with a given type of chord:

Familiarize yourself with the sound of it until it naturally becomes part of your repertoire.

Understand that chords with 7ths added aren't "just the same chord with an extra note" - they're their own chord, with their own sound. eg, minor 7th chords tend to sound less "dark" and "sad" than minor triads. Major 7th chords sound substantially less stable than major chords. Dominant 7th chords can inject a lot of tension and urgency.

There is also, of course the minor/major7th chord: AmMaj7. This is an extremely rare chord. A C E G#. Don't really have to worry about them much, if at all.
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Old 08-25-2013, 04:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HotspurJr
There is also, of course the minor/major7th chord: AmMaj7. This is an extremely rare chord. A C E G#. Don't really have to worry about them much, if at all.

Only if you dont listen to or play jazz lol.

Transcribe progression 4:56 onwards

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mMBhCAzUlg

Last edited by mdc : 08-25-2013 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 08-25-2013, 04:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HotspurJr
A minor 7th chord is a minor chord with a minor 7th added. eg, Am7 = A C E G
A major 7th chord is a major chord with a major 7th added. eg, Cmaj7 = C E G B
A dominant 7th chord, usually just referred to as a seventh chord and written C7, is a major chord with a MINOR seventh added. So C E G Bb. This is often called a dominant 7th because it occurs naturally only on the fifth degree of the major scale.

There's only one way to start composing intelligently with a given type of chord:

Familiarize yourself with the sound of it until it naturally becomes part of your repertoire.

Understand that chords with 7ths added aren't "just the same chord with an extra note" - they're their own chord, with their own sound. eg, minor 7th chords tend to sound less "dark" and "sad" than minor triads. Major 7th chords sound substantially less stable than major chords. Dominant 7th chords can inject a lot of tension and urgency.

There is also, of course the minor/major7th chord: AmMaj7. This is an extremely rare chord. A C E G#. Don't really have to worry about them much, if at all.

mMaj7 chords are mostly used in chromatically descending lines (Am - AmMaj7 - Am7 - Am6) but otherwise I think they are pretty rare. They sound really dissonant on their own.

Oh, and there are also m7b5 (diminished chord + minor 7th) and dim (diminished chord + diminished 7th) chords.
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Old 08-25-2013, 04:59 PM   #8
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Very last chord implied in this song. Cmmaj9.

Code:
-10 -8 -8 -9 - -8


Last edited by mdc : 08-25-2013 at 05:03 PM.
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by innovine
Hi,
can anyone give me some advice on adding a few sevenths into my chord progressions, and what kind of theory guidelines or common uses exist?

I understand how chords are constructed, and where the Maj, min, min, Maj, Maj, min, dim comes from (and for minor keys) but I'm very vague on when to introduce sevenths and when to play just a triad. Some tips would be very appreciated.

You want to look at chord substitution and also perhaps get an idea about voice leading.

Chord substitution is a way of introducing a new sound to the progression while keeping the core of the harmonic function in tact. Thus if you have a good strong root movement but find that playing simple triads for each bar is just not quite getting the depth that you want then understanding chord substitution can help a great deal.

There are no rules for chord substitution apart from good taste but there are some concepts and some common substitutions that can get you on your way.

To begin with there are two ways in which a substitution can be introduced into a chord progression. One way is when one chord replaces another chord completely and is played instead of that chord. The other way is to introduce new chords in the "spaces" between the original chords - as a kind of linking chord either before or after an existing chord.

For example you might have a basic progression such as C F G C. Here you might substitute the G chord entirely for a G7 chord and the result would be C F G7 C.

Or you might introduce a new chord between the existing chords. Say each of those chords were to last one bar each. |C \ \ \ |F \ \ \ | G \ \ \ |C \ \ \ |
(the verticle lines "|" represent bar division, in these examples each bar contains four beats. A chord will be written for each beat and "\" means to repeat the same chord for this beat. So in the above example you have four beats of C then four beats of F then four beats of G and finish with four beats of C.)

So if you were going to use chord substitution to introduce a some new chords into the existing progression you might precede the G with a Dm7 chord between the F and G chords so you would end up with |C \ \ \ |F \ Dm7 \ | G \ \ \ |C \ \ \ |. So here you are introducing a new chord.

So you need to decide whether you want to change a chord or inject a new one. Whichever way you go knowing a little about chord substitution can most definitely help.

First off you have Common Tone Chord Subsitution. This is when a chord is replaced by another chord that shares common tones. A good example of this is Diatonic Chord Substitution or Diatonic Chord Families.


The diatonic triads can be split up into "chord families". The triads within each family share at least two notes with the parent chord from the same family. There are three chord families the Tonic, SubDominant, and Dominant

If we take our major scale 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 then the chords built on each note would contain the following notes from the scale:
I = 1 3 5; ii = 2 4 6; iii = 3 5 7; IV = 4 6 1; V = 5 7 2; vi = 6 1 3; vii = 7 2 4

If we start with the Tonic since it is the fundamental home chord. We work through and find the chords that share two notes with the I chord. These are iii and vi.
This gives us the Tonic Family = I, iii, vi (note a movement between vi and iii requires changing two notes so just be aware.)

Of the chords left the IV and ii share two common notes and together make up the Sub Dominant Family.

And the V and vii chords share two common notes and make up the Dominant Family.

These diatonic chord families are used in a process called reharmonization.

Reharmonization is the process of taking an existing chord progression and making it sound different by reharmonizing a chord (or chords) from the progression with another that belongs to the same diatonic chord family. This way we retain the same basic function of the progression but it can sound quite different.

I'm using colour to identify family members and show how although the chords progressions are all different they family patterns are the same.

We could start with a simple I-V progression for example and use a second member of the Tonic family to reharmonize it as follows:
|I / / / | V / / / | --> | I / vi / | V / / /| We can play around with the timing but the principle remains the same.

A I-IV-V-I might become I-ii-V-I or even I-iii-IV-ii-V7-I

There are other kinds of common tone chord substitutions as well apart from diatonic chord substitution such as tritone chord substitions etc. But this should be enough to get you started.

The other kind of substitution is Direct Substitution. This is where a chord is replaced by another chord with the same root note. For example a C major chord would be replaced by a CMaj7 chord. Understanding "chord synonyms", voice leading, harmonic function, and principles of resolution will help with any kind of chord substitution.

For example...

If you had a I-IV progression that went |C \ \ \ | F \ \ \ | You might find that it is a little too simple and that you want something more interesting. Perhaps you want the resolution from F to C to be more pronounced.

One way to achieve this might be to look at the notes in your chords and how they move from one chord to another - Voice Leading. Now good voice leading suggests that the upper voices of a chord (those above the bass) should move by as small an amount as possible to become a note of the next chord. (Even if your specific voicing does not follow good voice leading principles this is still an excellent way to analyse chord changes.)

So looking at the voice leading going from F major (F A C) back to C major (C E G) it would look something like this:
F - E (F moves down a half step to E)
C - C (C stays as C)
A - G (A moves down a whole step to G)
F - C (bass/ root movement)

Now looking through the way each voice changes what we might decide to do here is to introduce a new note to create some chromatic movement between that A - G by injecting an Ab into the mix. Thus we would have
F - F - E
C - C - C
A - Ab - G
F - F - C

Our resulting progression might start to look like this:
|C \ \ \ |F \ Fm \ |

We might also decide to choose a substitute for the C chord and we have a great many options. One option would be to decide to break up that stagnant C in the upper voices. We could target the F chord but with C being the fifth in the F chord changing it can have a very destabilizing effect on the chord. It might be an option but having already subbed the F I'm going to use a substitute for the C chord in the second half of the bar. One simple way to introduce some variation to that droning C in the upper voice is to simply let it drop down a half step to B before moving back up a half step when changing to the F. This would result in a change of notes in the harmony that would result in a new chord but the root would still be C - This is a direct substitution and the resulting chord C E G B would be CMaj7 and our progression would then be...

|C \ CMaj7 \ | F \ Fm \ |

Another way to arrive at the same conclusion would be to break up the monotony of the tonic C major with a diatonic substitution iii for I. Thus we would use Em as a substitute for the C chord |C \ Em \ |F \ Fm \ |. However prefer the stronger root movement from C to F and so add a C root to the Em chord. Thinking it through this way we might be tempted to call the chord Em/C If you look at(an Em triad over a C bass) but the result in this context is that the chord will sound like a Cmaj7 chord. Note that the CMaj7 chord contains all the notes of Em over a C root.

CMaj7 = C E G B
Em = E G B

This is where a knowledge of chord synonyms is useful...
Am7 for example is like a C6 chord with a different root.
Am7 = A C E G
C6 = C E G A

Dm7 is like F major with a D root...

Thus in our earlier example C F Dm7 G C what we are doing by introducing that Dm7 is continuing our F major chord (F A C) but introducing a D root note to create a strong root movement down a perfect fifth from the D to the G which is then repeated from the G to the C. Thus it is also very useful to have a good grasp on how root movement affects a progression.

The point of any of the chord substitutions is to explore ways of creating a new sounding progression that has a solid harmonic function at its heart.

Though I haven't really focused specifically on seventh chords the best way is to try it out and see what you can come up with. But it can be daunting when you just have these chords and no idea how to put them together. My aim here is to give you some information to get you pointed in the right direction, give you some things to think about, and hopefully as you play around you will come up with some interesting ideas.
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Old 08-25-2013, 11:07 PM   #10
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^ That right there is a great post. 5-stars. It's information like that that should be attracting more people to this forum.
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Old 08-27-2013, 02:50 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 20Tigers
Though I haven't really focused specifically on seventh chords the best way is to try it out and see what you can come up with. .


The info above was spot-on. Thank's for going to the trouble. I am not after sevenths in particular either, anything to liven up my chord progressions is welcome, and you've given me some great ideas. Much appreciated.
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Old 08-27-2013, 05:03 AM   #12
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Cool thanks both for the feedback, much appreciated.

Remember though despite all that information the most important point to remember is that there are no rules except that of good taste. Those chord substitutions can be something as simple as playing a chord and hammering an extra note here and there to create a rhythmic accent or to lend a melodic feel to the chords.
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