A seventh chord has four notes. It begins with the root, third, and fifth of a triad. The seventh is another third added to the stack odd numbered intervals. There are five types of seventh chords commonly used in tonal music of all kinds. They are defined by two factors; the type of triad and the quality of the seventh as follows:
Major triad with major seventh (Maj/Maj7)
Major triad with minor 7th (Maj/min7)
Minor triad with minor 7th (min/min7)
Diminished triad with minor 7th (dim/min7)
Diminished triad with diminished 7th (dim/dim7)
Refer to the Lead Sheet Symbols guide for how to notate the various sevenths. Play each of these on the piano or guitar, arpeggiating upward, to learn the quality of each aurally.
Inverted Seventh Chords
Just as triads appear with the 3rd or 5th in the bass, seventh chords can appear with either of these or the 7th in the bass. Using slash bass lead sheet symbols, simply put the bass note under the slash to indicate inversion. If using figured bass
, the inversion numbers are as follows:
To put this in long-term memory, think of it as the telephone number of someone you’ve just met that you really want to get in touch with: 765-4342.