Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Major 7th Chord

Hi there!

Today I want to look at the Major 7th chord. This lesson is aimed at the beginner who are used to playing major and minor triad chords.

This lesson will consist of 3 parts:

  1. How to construct the Major 7th chord
  2. Root with inversions
  3. How to use the chord within your playing
I have also added a video lesson here:


Constructing a Major 7th chord

The major 7th chord builds on the major triad by adding an extra note. A major triad consist of the 1-3-5 tones in the scale. You play it together. This is based on the assumption that you know and understand the number system. A major seventh chord adds the 7 tone to the major triad.

If you are in the key of C, the major triad will be:

C-E-G (1-3-5)

If you have to play the major seventh chord, you can play:

C-E-G-B (1-3-5-7)

I would encourage you to practice this chord separately in both hands-you might need to play the chord in the left hand if you play with a bass player. Additionally, practice the chord in all 12 keys. If you don't know how to transpose to a new key. I would suggest you move all notes up a semi-tone until you get back to C an octave (8th note in the scale at a higher pitch) higher.

Root with Inversions

There are 4 different ways of playing the C Major 7th. I'll spell them out next:

Root position: C-E-G-B

1st Inversion: E-G-B-C

2nd Inversion: G-B-C-E

3rd Inversion: B-C-E-G

Use the fingering that is most comfortable and works for you. Again, try and practice these chords with both hands until you can play it seamlessly and move up in all 12 keys.

How to use the chord within your playing

Once you have mastered how to play the Major 7th chord, you must know how to apply it as you play a song or progression. We are going to look at the key of C. I want to make use of the number system to teach you where you can play the chord.


You can play the major 7th chords on numbers 1,2,4 and 6. Here is a chart that you can use:

Major 7th chord, Maj7th

This chart contains chords in the root position with the inversions as explained in the previous part. You can start by practicing the chords with your right hand with a left hand bass note. Go through the numbers where you can play the Major 7th. Please note, on the 5, you can play a major 7th chord but you must resolve to a G major or dominant chord, before you return to 1.

Feel free to explore a little but in most cases, you will play a major 7th on the numbers shown above.

That's it. I hope you learned something new and had fun.

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