Building an Extended Chord Vocabulary:

Learning 7th Chords and their Inversions

by James Stelling

 

Have you ever seen those books titled something like ’500,000 chords’?

Did that put you off? Did it make you think ‘how am I ever going to remember 500,000 chords’?

Well the good news is you don’t have to. All you have to do is learn how to construct chords and build from there.

This lesson shows you how to build an expansive knowledge of basic Major 7, 7, Minor 7, and Minor 7b5 chords.

In each instance we will start with a regular Major voicing (1st, 3rd, 5th) and then alter that voicing to construct each of the other chords.

I will post a following lesson on how to change these chords into any other chord. For example how to change a G7 chord 1st inversion into a G13 chord or a G9. These chords need to be learned thoroughly first though.

Just as a preface I will name the intervals in each of the chords we will look at just in case you don’t already know them.

Major – 1,3,5

Major 7 – 1,3,5,7

Dominant 7 – 1,3,5,b7

Minor 7 – 1,b3,5,b7

Minor 7b5 – 1,b3,b5,b7

I haven’t listed any minor chords (1,b3,5) in this lesson but you can just flatten the 3rds in the major voicings listed by a semi tone to result in minor chords.

I found that the best way to practise these chords is to try playing them over a Jazz standard that uses all 4 chord types.

A very simple one could be Autumn Leaves:

Cm7, F7, Bbmaj7, Ebmaj7, Am7b5, D7, Gm7, G7.

If you have any questions just leave them in the comments section and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

 

So, on to the lesson:

 

In this first example we will use a root position (the root note is the lowest note in our voicing) G major chord with our root on the 6th string.

This chord is voiced Root, Root, 3rd, 5th (the root notes will always be white throughout this lesson).

We start by dropping the second root down a semi tone to make it a 7th. This results in a Maj 7 chord voiced Root, 7th, 3rd, 5th.

We then drop the 7th down a semi tone to make it a b7. This results in a Dominant 7 chord voiced Root, b7th, 3rd, 5th.

We then drop the 3rd down a semi tone to make it a b3rd. This results in a Min 7 chord voicedRoot, b7th, b3rd, 5th.

Finally we drop the 5th down a semi tone to make it a b5th. This results in a Min 7b5 chord voiced Root, b7th, b3rd, b5th.

This next example will start with a G major chord in 1st inversion (the 3rd is the lowest note in our voicing).

This chord is voiced 3rd, Root, 5th, Root.

We start by dropping the second root down a semi tone to make it a 7th. This results in a Maj 7 chord voiced 3rd, Root, 5th, 7th.

We then drop the 7th down a semi town to make it a b7. This results in a Dominant 7 chord voiced 3rd, Root, 5th, b7th.

We then drop the 3rd down a semi town to make it a b3. This results in a Min 7 chord voicedb3rd, Root, 5th, b7th.

We then drop the 5th down a semi town to make it a b5. This results in a Min 7b5 chord voiced b3rd, Root, b5th, b7th.

This next example will start with a G major chord in 2nd inversion (the 5th is the lowest note in our voicing).

This chord is voiced 5th, 3rd, Root, 3rd.

We start by dropping the root down a semi tone to make it a 7th & dropping the 2nd 3rd down 2 tones to become a Root. This results in a Maj 7 chord voiced 5th, 3rd, 7th, Root.

We then drop the 7th down a semi town to make it a b7. This results in a Dominant 7 chord voiced 5th, 3rd, b7th, Root.

We then drop the 3rd down a semi town to make it a b3. This results in a Min 7 chord voiced 5th, b3rd, 7th, Root.

We then drop the 5th down a semi town to make it a b5. This results in a Min 7b5 chord voiced b5th, b3rd, 7th, Root.

This next example will start with a G major chord in Root position again however voiced differently to the first example.

This chord is voiced Root, 5th, Root, 3rd.

You almost never hear a 3rd inversion Maj 7 chord so I have not included it here.

So we’ll start by dropping the root down a tone to make it a b7th. This results in a Dominant 7chord 3rd Inversion (b7 as the lowest note in the chord) voiced b7, 5th, Root, 3rd.

We then drop the 3rd down a semi town to make it a b3. This results in a Min 7 chord voiced b7, 5th, Root, b3rd.

We then drop the 5th down a semi town to make it a b5. This results in a Min 7b5 chord voiced b7, b5th, Root, b3rd.

This next example, and all following examples adhere to the same rules as the above voicings. From here on out I will just list the voicings of each chord and which inversion they are.

C Major, Root Position, lowest note on the A string.

Major – Root, 5th, Root, 3rd.

Major 7 – Root, 5th, 7th, 3rd.

Dominant 7 – Root, 5th, b7th, 3rd.

Minor 7 – Root, 5th, b7th, b3rd.

Minor 7b5 – Root, b5th, b7th, b3rd.

C Major, 1st Inversion, lowest note on the A string.

Major – 3rd, 5th, Root, 5th.

Major 7 - 3rd, 7th, Root, 5th.

Dominant 7 - 3rd, b7th, Root, 5th.

Minor 7 – b3rd, b7th, Root, 5th.

Minor 7b5 – b3rd, b7th, Root, b5th.

C Major, 2nd Inversion, lowest note on the A string.

Major – 5th, Root, 3rd, 5th.

Major 7 - 5th, Root, 3rd, 7th.

Dominant 7 - 5th, Root, 3rd, b7th.

Minor 7 - 5th, Root, b3rd, b7th.

Minor 7b5 – b5th, Root, b3rd, b7th.

C Major, Root position, lowest note on the A string.

Major – Root, 3rd, 5th, Root.

(3rd Inversion):

Dominant 7 - b7th, 3rd, 5th, Root.

Minor 7 – b7th, b3rd, 5th, Root.

Minor 7b5 - b7th, b3rd, b5th, Root.

F Major, Root Position, lowest note on the D string.

Major – Root, 5th, Root, 3rd.

Major 7 – Root, 5th, 7th, 3rd.

Dominant 7 – Root, 5th, b7th, 3rd.

Minor 7 – Root, 5th, b7th, b3rd.

Minor 7b5 – Root, b5th, b7th, b3rd.

F Major, 1st Inversion, lowest note on the D string.

Major – 3rd, 5th, Root, 5th.

Major 7 - 3rd, 7th, Root, 5th.

Dominant 7 - 3rd, b7th, Root, 5th.

Minor 7 – b3rd, b7th, Root, 5th.

Minor 7b5 – b3rd, b7th, Root, b5th.

F Major, 2nd Inversion, lowest note on the D string.

Major – 5th, Root, 3rd, 5th.

Major 7 - 5th, Root, 3rd, 7th.

Dominant 7 - 5th, Root, 3rd, b7th.

Minor 7 - 5th, Root, b3rd, b7th.

Minor 7b5 – b5th, Root, b3rd, b7th.

F Major, Root position, lowest note on the D string.

Major – Root, 3rd, 5th, Root.

(3rd Inversion):

Dominant 7 - b7th, 3rd, 5th, Root.

Minor 7 - b7th, b3rd, 5th, Root.

Minor 7b5 - b7th, b3rd, b5th, Root.

I hope you've enjoyed this lesson and found it helpful. 

Please check back regularly for more and if you have time please 'like' our Facebook page via the little 'f' below.

All the best, James.