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Lesson 12: Major 7th Chord Forms



Major 7th chord interval construction is 1 - M3 - P5 - M7.

There are different ways of voicing major 7th chords so that you get the effect you want.

For example, sometimes you may want the 7th interval to be easily heard so you make sure you play the 7th higher in the voicing. This helps bring that sound out. On the other hand if you want a particular note to be a little more subtle, voice it lower in the chord so that its sound is not quite so obvious. This is a general rule with any note of the chord:

1) if you want the note to stand out move it higher in the voicing;

2) if you want the note to be less obvious, place it lower in the voicing.



Below are 3 common forms that should provide you with a good foundation in major 7th chords.







The roots of the chords have been circled. Roots are the notes for which the chords have been named.

For example, to play a G major 7th chord, make sure that the circled note of the form is on the note G on the fretboard.

Notice that the roots of forms 1 and 2 are on the 5th string and the root of form 3 is on the 6th string. X's indicate strings should not be played, and the number over the fret indicates the fret number. The numbers in the black dots indicate which finger to use.



Exercise #1:

Play chord form #1.

Make sure that your left hand thumb is near the center of the curve in the neck so that your fingers can come straight at the fretboard.

Play each note of the chord one at a time to make sure that each note sounds clear.

Once this is done, slide the entire chord up the fretboard one half-step.

Again, play each note of the chord one at a time to make sure that each note sounds clear.

Then move up one more fret and play the chord. Keep doing this until you run out of fretboard.

Now, move back down the fretboard by half-steps.

Repeat the above steps using form #2 and then again using form #3.



Exercise #2:

Play through all three forms for each chord in the order listed after the chord name.



Play:

Cmaj7 forms: 1 --> 2 --> 3

Fmaj7 forms: 3 --> 1 --> 2

Bmaj7 forms: 2 --> 3 --> 1

Emaj7 forms: 1 --> 2 --> 3

Amaj7 forms: 3 --> 1 --> 2

Dmaj7 forms: 1 --> 2 --> 3

Gmaj7 forms: 3 --> 1 --> 2

Bmaj7 forms: 2 --> 3 --> 1

Emaj7 forms: 3 --> 1 --> 2

Amaj7 forms: 2 --> 3 --> 1

Dmaj7 forms: 1 --> 2 --> 3

Gmaj7 forms: 3 --> 1 --> 2


Exercise #3:

Play the following major chords. Make sure to play the chord form number specified in parenthesis. After playing through this exercise you should begin to see a pattern.

Cmaj7 (form 3) --> Fmaj7 (form 2) --> Bmaj7 (form 3) --> Emaj7 (form 2) --> Amaj7 (form 3) --> Dmaj7 (form 2) --> Gmaj7 (form 3) --> Bmaj7 (form 2) --> Emaj7 (form 2) --> Amaj7 (form 3) --> Dmaj7 (form 2) --> Gmaj7 (form 3).


Exercise #4:

Play the following major chords. Again, you should begin to see a pattern.

Cmaj7 (form 3) --> Fmaj7 (form 1) --> Bmaj7 (form 3) --> Emaj7 (form 1) --> Amaj7 (form 3) --> Dmaj7 (form 1) --> Gmaj7 (form 3) --> Bmaj7 (form 3) --> Emaj7 (form 1) --> Amaj7 (form 3) --> Dmaj7 (form 1) --> Gmaj7 (form 3).


Exercise #5:

Now that you have the chords under your fingers it's time to do a little brain work. Go through each of these chords and identify each note - whether it is the Tonic, the Third, the Fifth or the Seventh.


Final Note: The chord forms you have just been working on sometimes provide too many notes. For example, if you are working with a keyboard player and you are both playing big full chords, things might start to sound a little muddy. Sometimes it is better to play only two or three notes of the chord. This can help clean up the sound. You can use any combination of notes of the 3 forms.












Copyright 2001 T.A. Vieira, Jr.
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