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Thread: when to use 7th chords

  1. #1
    Registered User fortymile's Avatar
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    when to use 7th chords

    hello...

    frustrating day today. one of those days where everything you play sounds familiar...all the chords on the guitar are the same old boring chords, and nothing seems new or possible.

    i suck.

    today i decided i need to get a bit more serious about a few things. one thing i was wondering about is 7th chords. i don't use them, haven't really used them. i have no idea how to compose with them. when should i use them??? this is a stupid question, i know. i could use them almost anyplace. but i need some new way to think about this. how did some of you take the leap into using them?
    "All bad poetry is sincere" -- Oscar Wilde

  2. #2
    Jazzman Poparad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fortymile
    hello...

    frustrating day today. one of those days where everything you play sounds familiar...all the chords on the guitar are the same old boring chords, and nothing seems new or possible.

    i suck.

    today i decided i need to get a bit more serious about a few things. one thing i was wondering about is 7th chords. i don't use them, haven't really used them. i have no idea how to compose with them. when should i use them??? this is a stupid question, i know. i could use them almost anyplace. but i need some new way to think about this. how did some of you take the leap into using them?
    You can use them just like you use any other chord. They act as a different flavor than a plain triad. Think of them as toppings on an ice cream sundae; you can eat it plain, or add a lot of different toppings for flavor.


    In the key of C major, here are the basic 7th chords:

    Cmaj7
    Dm7
    Em7
    Fmaj7
    G7
    Am7
    Bm7b5


    Here are some simple voicings for major 7, minor 7, domiant 7, and minor 7b5:

    Code:
    Cmaj7	 Dm7	   G7	   Bm7b5
    -----------------------------------
    -5--8-----6--10-----12--3----3--6--
    -4--9-----5--10-----10--4----2--7--
    -5--9-----7--10-----12--3----3--7--
    -3--------5---------10-------2-----
    ----8--------10---------3-------7--

  3. #3
    Registered User Mateo150's Avatar
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    Use them, use them, they are necessary for flat five subs. Get really comfortable with them, they are the building blocks for improv in blues and jazz.

  4. #4
    Registered User fortymile's Avatar
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    thanks. i know all that stuff, though. i know the diatonic chords, etc. i just wish there were some system...i dont know what i'm looking for. when i try to use them i feel like i don't know what i'm doing. i dunno. it's just that kind of day. sorry.
    "All bad poetry is sincere" -- Oscar Wilde

  5. #5
    Jazz Apprentice Factor's Avatar
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    I don't really understand your problem, but one thing could be that you haven't plugged the sound of the seventh chords into your ear. Unless you want to have the maj7 sound intead of the plain major one, it's going to sound off.

    My leap into using them was learning some tunes with such chords. Take basically any jazz standard and it's almost only seventh chords. I started with Autumn Leaves.

    If you want to spice up a normal progression, you need to analyze (or use your ear, which ever works best) to find out where the different seventh chords will fit. As Poparad explained above:
    I = maj7
    ii = m7
    iii = m7
    IV = maj7
    V = 7
    vi = m7
    vii = m7b5

    So when ever you have a, say vi-ii-V-I progression, you can embellish all of those chords, or none if you wish, with that seventh note.

  6. #6
    Registered User Mateo150's Avatar
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    Try this progression, very fun to jam over and easy to play

    Dm x 2, E7dim add 13?, A7

    ------ -----
    --6---8----
    --7---7---6
    --7---8---5
    --5---7----
    ----------5

    feel free to emblish them how you want, this is a Jazz progression, forget what its called. Dm, E7, A7 works fine.

    For funky stuff, check out Hendrix stuff..i.e. Purple haze, and other hits for 7th chord uses, Stevie wonder uses a lot of them too. Lots of funk uses 7th chords with adds, 13ths and 11ths

    Lots (most) of SRV's songs are in in 7th chords.

    To answer your question more directly, I started and still learn them by playing Blues. Blues uses lots of 7ths. From blues I learned Funk and Jazz. I suck with modes personally and am trying to learn classical. Some people who play classical can't reallly play blues in the traditional sense. Just where you want to go with It I guess. Knowing what genre of music influences you helps too. If you listen to stuff that doesn't really use 7th chords, why focus on it as a priority?
    Last edited by Mateo150; 02-06-2005 at 07:23 AM.

  7. #7
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Back to the basic reason for sevenths --- A sevenths adds tension and wants to resolve to the tonic right now.

  8. #8
    Jazz Apprentice Factor's Avatar
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    Not all seventh chords though. The maj7 is pretty stable. The m7 has more tension than a regular minor, but it doesn mean it wants to resolve directly to the tonic.

    Now a Dominant seventh - I agree. The seventh makes a tritone with the third which makes for alot of tension, which resolves into a major third or a minor sixth.

  9. #9
    I like music.
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    A lot of people can't figure out how to 'plug in' 7th chords because they are doing it *** backwards. You have to realize 7th chords are no different than any other chord, they are just another facet of harmony. I would take the chord progression that you are using at the moment, and wherever you find that you want to 'spice' something up, figure out what the melody note of the voicing that you are using at the moment is, then try different bass notes over it, with the interval of a seventh (major or flatted, spread out over however big an interval you wish) between the bass note and the melody. Give it a shot.
    Hard luck and trouble...

  10. #10
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    Learn a bit of jazz theory, I say a bit because it's very deep waters. If you want to feel like your brain is going to catch on fire then jazz theory is the way to go. On the other hand it will make you all nice and comfy with 7th chords.

  11. #11
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    Actually if you look at many songs that use sevenths and you may see a pattern. This is in the use of seventh chords to lead us into the next chord in the progression. If you are on the I chord or i chord, and the next chord is the IV or iv, then there is a strong tendensy for the first chord to be played as a triad the first measure and a seventh chord the second measure and then the IV or iv chord.
    See these examples:
    Code:
    |Am///|Am7///|Dm///|F///|
     
    |A///|A7///|D///|D///|
    it also works in a secondary dominant situation because the relationship is that of a fourth. just like the examples above.
    Code:
    In the key of Em
    |F#/F#7/|B/B7/|Em///|Em///|
    In all three situations above, the seventh note creates a downward melody that connects the present chord with the next. Look at the first example with A minor, the melody created by the seventh chord looks like this.
    Code:
    |A///|G///|F///|F///|
    remember, those are single notes.

    In the second example of A major, the melody looks like this:
    Code:
    |A///|G///|F#///|F#///|
    There are also many songs that use seventh chords all over. I think it is more of the same thing in that all those seventh notes create polyphonic lines that give the song more movement.
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  12. #12
    Registered User fortymile's Avatar
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    hey alright ...

    some really good suggestions here. thank you guys.

    mateo, the reason why is because some of the music i listen does use 7th chords, and i always notice them and how good they are. best example i can think of: nine inch nails. the nin songs that use 7ths are always amazingly evocative.

    dommy, that's a concrete idea i can try. thank you, i'm gonna get on that right away. never occurred to me.

    lb, as always thanks for the exercises. as soon as i get off my arse here...

    and i think you guys are right. i like the jazz standards approach. maybe if i bought a fake book (because i prefer just playing the chords by thier symbols)...
    "All bad poetry is sincere" -- Oscar Wilde

  13. #13
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    Don't take the music "rules" too serious... It's just guidelines anyway. Play, no not play, Toy with 7th chords.. Put them together randomly. Do it for an hour and i guarantee you end up with something that you like! If not, sue me!
    "You don't fill somebody's shoes, you come with your own shoes and kick the door down!!!" - Zakk Wylde

  14. #14
    Registered User fortymile's Avatar
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    i dont take them seriously at all. i think i just suck at using 7th chords. there are times you hear them in other peoples' music and you know they're the exact right choice. when i use them they sound arbitrary.
    "All bad poetry is sincere" -- Oscar Wilde

  15. #15
    -boxฮดุฐฒฤฮถดฤณฮดุฐฒ
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    Like so much else, theres is only one thing to do. Practice.
    "You don't fill somebody's shoes, you come with your own shoes and kick the door down!!!" - Zakk Wylde

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