7th chords - seventh chords on the piano
- Week Ten -
All The 7th Piano Chords
One of the most valuable chord types you'll ever learn...
Hello again, and welcome to the next edition of the newsletter. I hope you are enjoying learning about all the chords in the world -- and we're going to cover them ALL before we're done -- you'll know more about chords than 99% of the people in the world -- believe it or not, it's true.
If you recall the first week we learned about the three chords you absolutely, positively CAN'T do without. Then the next week we took an airplane ride over Chordland just to get the lay of the land -- the overview of the world of chords.
Then in the next weeks lesson we showed you how easy it is to learn ALL the major chords (there are 12 of them) and be able to play them in seconds -- not hours or days or weeks or months or years. Some people go through their entire lives not being sure about what such and such a major chord is -- and it's all so unnecessary, because you can memorize them in just a few minutes, and learn to play them in 12 seconds or less - one second per chord. I have had many private students over the years who could play them all in as little as 5 seconds -- one little gal (she was about 12 at the time) had particularly fast hands, and could play them in - believe it or not - 3 seconds! I have slow hands with fat fingers, and yet I can play them in something like 5 or 6 seconds.
Next you learned how to easily turn major chords into minor chords just by moving one key one-half step -- by lowering the 3rd of the major chord.
Then we learned diminished triads -- just by lowering the 3rd and the 5th of a major chord 1/2 step.
Then we learned inversions -- how to stand chords on their head.
And finally, we took up augmented triads -- formed by simply raising the 5th of a major triad.
Then we learned about major 6th chords. They are 4-note chords -- the root, 3rd, 5th -- just like a major chord, but you also add the 6th degree of the scale to the major triad. The 6th is ALWAYS one whole step above the 5th -- never a half step -- so they are real easy to find.
Then we changed those major 6th chords into minor 6th chords just by altering the 3rd 1/2 step -- in other words, a minor triad with a 6th on top.
Today we're going to take up 7th chords -- every important chords, because they move you from one tonal base to another tonal base. In other words, when we move from the C chord to the F chord, we often use C7 between the two as a "connector". Actually, there are two types of 7th chords -- a 7th, which we're considering today, and a major 7th, which we will take up next time.
To form a 7th chord, just find the 7th note of the scale and lower it 1/2 step. (Next week we'll take up the "Major 7th" chord, which uses the scale 7th.) But with a plain 7th chord, we lower the 7th 1/2 step. So here is the formula for a 7th chord:
(Remember that accidentals carry over in each measure!)
And here's what they look like on the staff when played with the left hand:
(They appear in the same order as before:)
C7 F7 G7 D7 E7 A7 Db7 Eb7 Ab7 Gb7 B7 Bb7
7th chords want to move up a perfect 4th -- they don't have to, but that is their tendency. So if you encounter a G7 chord, what is the next likely chord? Sure -- a C chord. Why? Because it's a 4th higher than G. If you encountered an Eb7 chord, what is the most likely chord to follow it? Right. Ab. Why? Because Ab is a 4th above Eb. Just knowing that gives you a tiny idea of how much you can gain from knowing chord progressions, which we will take up as soon as we get through learning all the chords.
As usual, now it's up to you. Play each 7th chord in root position, then 1st inversion, then 2nd inversion, then in 3rd inversion (the 7th will be the lowest note of the chord) Play each chord up and down the keyboard for at least 2 octaves -- maybe 3 octaves. Play them with your left hand, then play them with your right hand. Then play them hands together.
Go through all 12 major chords, inverting every one. Then go through all the 12 minor chords, inverting each one up and down the keyboard -- hands alone, then hands together. Then go through all 12 diminished chords, inverting each one up and down the keyboard -- each hand alone, then together. Then play the 12 augmented chords, up and down the keyboard. Then skip around from major to minor to diminished to augmented, etc.
Then add minor 6th chords to your repertoire of chords. They are shown in root position above, but you know that you can turn them upside down 'till the cows come home -- invert them -- so go to it!
And then add 7th chords and their inversions....
Do you feel like you're getting a handle on chords yet? You ought to -- I know we're going slowly, but chords are SO important that you absolutely MUST master them if you are ever going to play the piano like you hope to!
So here's our revised chord scorecard:
Next week we will add 12 more chords to our growing list of chords we can play by adding major 7th chords to our stash. (Actually 48 more chords, since each 4-note chord such as a 7th can be inverted 4 ways -- root position, 1st inversion, 2nd inversion, and 3rd inversion.)
For a wonderful keyboard chord chart that you can keep on your desktop for reference, click on the icon below:
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