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1.18 Seventh Chords
Seventh chords are four-note chords built using thirds. The bottom note in the stack of thirds is the root, the next note up is the third, followed by the fifth and seventh on top of the stack. There are many types of seventh chords (see Chapter 4 for jazz chords), but five basic types are common.

Major seventh

M7 m7

Major seventh chords have a major triad and a major seventh above the root. The interval from the 5th of the chord to the 7th will be a major third.

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major triad

major seventh

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M7 chord

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" " " " major third


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Minor seventh

Minor seventh chords have a minor triad and a minor seventh above the root. The interval from the 5th of the chord to the 7th is a minor third.

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minor triad

minor seventh

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m7 chord

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minor third on top

Major-minor (Dominant) seventh

Major-minor seventh chords have a major triad and a minor seventh above the root. The interval from the 5th of the chord to the 7th is a minor third. Mm7 chords almost always function as dominant chords. "Mm7...dominant?"

Mm7
Half-diminished seventh

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major triad

minor seventh

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Mm7 chord

#" " " " minor third


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Half-diminished seventh chords have a diminished triad and a minor seventh above the root. The interval from the 5th of the chord to the 7th is a major third.

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dim. triad

minor seventh

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7 chord

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major third on top

Diminished seventh

Diminished (or "fully-diminished") seventh chords have a diminished triad and a diminished seventh above the root. The interval from the 5th of the chord to the 7th is a minor third. Diminished seventh chords are a stack of all minor thirds, while half-diminished have a major third on top.

dim. diminished 7 chord triad seventh Copyright 2010 by Mark Feezell. All Rights Reserved.

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minor third on top