Guitar chords are the building block to guitar playing. Guitar players have to know what key the song is in, which guitar chords are being played. Otherwise it is all noise!
In the last lesson we learned about several things:
- Chord diagrams
- Tablature or tab
- How minor chords are constructed
- Two of many variations of the natural C Minor chord and scale
- Variations in chord diagrams and in tab
- Two additional variations in the C Minor scale:
- The melodic minor scale
- The harmonic minor scale.
This time we’re going to spend some time with seventh chords. With what we’ve previously covered you should have a well-rounded basic knowledge of the C key family.
One thing I have learned over time is that everybody wants to be one of the
Greatest Guitar Players Of All Time!
Well, that’s why we’re here. Not to make you the greatest guitar player of all time. LOL! I can’t possibly do that! That’s up to you, the skills you build and your application of those skills.
My goal in all of this is to try to give you a fundamental knowledge of guitar fretboard theory. Part of that theory is guitar chords. How they are constructed. What scales did guitar chords come from? That is what I’ve been aiming for in this series.
Guitar Chords: The 7th Chord
No, we’re not talking about the 7th scale in a series! Since we’ve been dealing with the C Major and Minor chord structures, let’s stick with that.
You knew it was coming… yes, there are multiple forms of seventh chords. Five to be exact! We’re going to focus on three of them:
- The Dominant seventh chord
- The Major seventh chord
- The Dominant minor seventh chord
The other two are the Half-diminished seventh chord and the Diminished seventh chord.
The seventh chord is made up of the basic chord triad – in the case of C-Major that is C, G and E – PLUS an interval of the seventh. Remember from our prior lessons what an interval is? And what we mean by interval one, three and five?
If you don’t remember what an interval is, I recommend you go back and find out. If you haven’t read all of the lessons, please go back and start from the beginning by clicking on this link that will take you to Lets Get Started
Interval one, three and five are the steps from the C-major scale that form the chord triad. Add the minor 7th interval to form the seventh chord which is noted as C7. Don’t confuse the minor 7th interval with the minor 7th chord! The minor 7th interval is created by flatting the 7th interval.
The chord diagram for C-Major-7th looks like the figure on the left. The Barre form, where your index finger forms the “bar” for the chord, is shown on the right. I left the B♭ labeled so that you can see that the barre covers it.
And let’s don’t forget the C-Major 7th scale…
Guitar Chords: The Minor 7th Chord
Are you catching on to the structure of seventh chords yet? Hint: A guitar chord in the dominant seventh form is made up of the major chord triad PLUS the minor seventh interval.
Likewise, the minor seventh chord is composed of the minor chord triad PLUS the minor seventh interval. Very good! This one should be easy to put together! First, our triad PLUS minor seventh in the key of C are: C, E♭, G and B♭. Our scale looks like this…
Notes of the chord. Anyone tell me why the lower E has no flat on the staff?
Because the higher E is flatted on the staff…
For this one there is only one chord form for our purposes.
And finally, the scale pattern…
Guitar Chords: The MAJOR 7th Chord
I need to pause right here and distinguish between the MAJOR 7th chord and the Dominant 7th chord which is based on the major scale of the particular key. The Dominant Seventh is the chord triad (C-Major) and the minor (flatted) 7th interval. The MAJOR Seventh is the chord trial PLUS the major 7th interval.
So there’s only a half-step difference between the Dominant 7th and the MAJOR 7th. So our notes will be: C, G, E and B. By the way, the MAJOR 7th is denoted as M7, so C MAJOR 7th would be shown as CM7. Note the differences between C7 (Dominant 7th) and CM7 (MAJOR 7th) and Cm7 (minor 7th)!
First comes the scale… Note that nothing is flatted.
Our chord on the staff…
The open form of CM7…
And lastly… the scale of C MAJOR 7 (CM7)…
Guitar Chords: All Seventhed Out!
That just about covers the basics of the chord group in the key of C. Oh, for sure there are LOTS and LOTS of other chords in C!!! C6, Csus, C2… But I’ll wait and cover those later when we get to the more elaborate chord forms! For now, you’ve got a great foundation to go on!
Which brings us to next time… we’re going to take a slight detour and quickly go over two other forms of scales, the major and minor pentatonic scales. Pentatonic scales are the foundation of playing lead guitar.
Then we’ll come back and tackle a couple more chord groups in the keys of F and G. And THAT, my friend, will give us what we need to play our first song! Yay!
Until next time…
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