All About 7ths

SATURDAY, September 28, 2019

All About 7ths…

Any 7 (7th) uses two letters and skips five. For example, C to B is a 7th. Either note can be sharped, or flatted, or both. One can be sharp and the other flat. Anything is theoretically possible. Regardless of how strange it looks or feels in your hands, or how weird it sounds, it’s a 7 (7th). Some possibilities are so weird or impractical that you will probably never see them or write them. But they are theoretically possible. As you play intervals you may see two black notes, two white notes or one of each. Now, here are the 7s (7ths) that are used frequently:

  • maj7 (major 7th) does not have a name for the sound only, but think of it as one half step down from an octave. The two keys you play can be both colors, or both can be white.  Maj7 is the 7th note in a major scale, but unlike 2, 3, 4,5 and 6 it is always marked with maj7.
  • 7 (minor 7th) does not have a name for the sound, but it is one whole step short of an octave. Although it is not part of the major scale, it is not marked as b7, as you would expect. 7 in a chord is always a minor 7th. For most students this is very confusing.
  • “o” (diminished 7th) is the same as 6 in sound, and the look and feel are the same on the keyboard. Both 6 and “o” are used interchangeably in diminished 7 chords.

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