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Thread: Question about 7th chords

  1. #1
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    Question about 7th chords

    This is something that's been kinda bugging me for a long time. Take an E7 chord, played like this:

    |-0-|
    |-3-|
    |-1-|
    |-2-|
    |-2-|
    |-0-|

    Now, the 7th note is D. But in E Major, it's D#? Why? I was wondering about it for a long time, and I figured out what I would think of as an E7 chord one day, and I absolutely loved the sound. It was like this:

    |-0-|
    |-0-|
    |-8-|
    |-6-|
    |-7-|
    |-0-|

    That has E-G#-B-D#. So could someone explain why when a 7th chord is usually written, it's a b7 from the major scale, and not the normal 7th note? I feel like I'm missing an integral part of theory here, but I never understood it. Thanks, and don't laugh at the n00b (me).

    James

  2. #2
    Registered User Unhorizon's Avatar
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    an E7 chord is short for an E Dominant 7. This means it has a root(E), major third(G#), fifth(B), and MINOR seventh(D).

    An E Maj7, or E Major 7 chord has a root(E), major third(G#), fifth(B), and major seventh(D#). These 2 formulas are the same for all dominant 7 and major 7 chords.

  3. #3
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    Hi James
    The E7 chord (as you've found) doesn't occur naturally in E Major.
    The dominant chord does occur naturally as the 5th degree of a major scale-(A Major, in this case)

    :Mike

  4. #4
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    Thanks, man! I'm kinda wondering they 'why' behind it, though. What does "dominant 7" mean? Why dominant?

    Sorry, I'm one of those people that have to know why stuff works, not just that it does. Anyone care to explain? I feel I'm missing something rather basic here, and I don't like that. Thanks again for the reply, Unhorizon!

    James

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjo
    Hi James
    The E7 chord (as you've found) doesn't occur naturally in E Major.
    The dominant chord does occur naturally as the 5th degree of a major scale-(A Major, in this case)

    :Mike
    Thanks, Mike. Didn't see your post until after I posted. So if I see a dominant 7th chord like that, it's going to (for the most part, there are exceptions of course) be the V chord of another scale? Am I correct in assuming that? If so, that makes sense, as that stacked 7th in E7 is coming from the A Major scale, not the E Major scale.

    So that would indicate (in our example, that is) Mixolydian? Cool, now it kinda makes sense. Food for thought. *dives back into theory book*

    James

  6. #6
    Mode Rator Zatz's Avatar
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    Hi AcousticJames!

    First of all - please forget about scales for a minute

    Dominant chords have this structure: [Root] [M3] <P5> [m7]
    (P5 may be omitted cos it's one of the basic overtones of the root)

    * M3 is 2 steps away from the root
    * P5 is 3.5 steps away from the root
    * m7 is 5 steps away from the root

    It was E7 chord that got you puzzled. So let's write down an E chromatic scale (all the half-tones starting from e to e):

    <e f f# g g# a a# (b) c c# d d# e>

    The E7 chord tone are in bold. Compare with the aforementioned dominant chord structure.

    The main sign of a dominant chord is [M3] <-> [m7] tritone interval (3 whole steps).

    But! Dominant chords don't necessarily have to be found on V degree!
    The chords are named regardless of harmonic context (scales, progressions etc).

    Read more about the 7th chords in Guni's atricle:
    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/article/95

    Regards,
    Zatz.
    Last edited by Zatz; 05-20-2004 at 10:08 PM.
    Zadd9 -> A6 -> T#9b5 -> Zmaj7

  7. #7
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    Zatz, thanks so much! I've seen Guni's other two articles (the one on Intervals and Triads), but I somehow missed this one. I've only read the first couple pages, very informative!!! Can't wait to dive in to this. Thanks again, man! Very good stuff. Just when I think I've got a handle on this thing we call theory...

    James

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