How To Write Progressions using min7, maj7, and Dominant 7th chords

WARNING! Really bad typo at 08:39- A major is A + C# + E!!!!  This video teaches the basic structure behind major seventh (maj7), minor seventh (m7) and Dominant Seventh (7th) chords, as well as how to play them as a guitarist and how to use them when writing. They do fit into our major keys and modes which means soloing and singing over them should be a breeze as long as you’re putting them in the right spot. The concept I’m teaching is commonly referred to as the “harmonized major scale”. For many guitarists, this concept isn’t very intuitive due to the geometry of our instrument. Therefore I prefer to teach this “shortcut method” to harmony before exploring actual extended chords and harmonies. I do recommend you continue your research into this topic by googling and watching videos on “the harmonized major scale”. I’ve also skipped over the vii chord since this video is NOT about diminished- I have other videos on that chord! 


Please note, this transcription was computer generated and has not been checked for errors. However, I do hope you find it helpful. Be sure to check out The Ultimate Modal Poster!

Hey, I'm Jake lizzio. And in this video we're going to explore major 7th chords minor 7th chords and dominant 7th. Chords. What are they? How do we build them and more importantly, how do we use them? How do we stay in a key or a modal tonality with them and how can we use them without staying at a key? So basically just writing with these chords trying to get a little bit better grasp of them. Now. This isn't really heavy-duty music theory, but you might get lost if you're not familiar with the concept of scale degrees or the diatonic chords of your major scale. So I really recommend you check out those videos. I've linked to them in the description. And and they should make this video make a lot more sense. If you don't already know those Concepts, so let's get started by talking about Minor 7th chords minor 7th chords are just minor chords, but you've added a flatted 7th. So what is a flatted 7th? Well, if you're in the key of A, you just count up 7 Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 and then flat that note take it down a half step. And when I do that I end up on the Note G.

So in a a flat seven is the note G and I find it kind of uncomfortable to count up 7 Notes and then count back one fret so here's my shortcut if you need to. The flat 7 just start on your route and go back to Frets or go back a whole step. I started on a and if I go back a whole step takes me to gee that's a flat 7 if I just lift it up an octave. So that's my shortcut of fighting flat seventh. We're going to be using that again when we want to figure out the dominant seventh chord because a dominant seventh chord also includes a flat 7 so long story short if I want to make an A Minor 7. I take an A minor chord, which is the notes a c and e and I have to add that g in there somewhere the shape that I like to use is a guitar player though more than anything else is this shape right here. I put my middle finger on my route on the 6th string and then with my ring finger I play these notes. This is the flat 7. This is the minor third and this is the perfect fifth. So these four notes Here spell out the notes of an A Minor 7. And this is a movable shape. I can just kind of move it around here on my guitar to get a B minor 7 C Minor 7 and hopefully you hear minor 7th chords are like very chilled out there very relaxed versions of minor chords an A. Minor can be pretty harsh. Take a listen that's got a little bit of bite to Right that's got a little bit of I don't know little evil, but a minor 7th really is not evil minor sevenths much more subdued.

I feel like it's a diluted version of your minor chord, right? You've watered it down a little bit and it's taken away some of the bite and even in any version inversion. Here's an open a minor chord really dark really heavy. Here's an A Minor 7 and in my opinion that's much more light as much more watered down.

So the first way you can start using minor 7th chords Is just by keeping in mind that they are less dramatic than your normal minor chords if you're writing a song and you have to have a minor chord in there, but you think you know, it's just too heavy. It's got too much emotion behind it tried is turning it into a minor 7th chord, you might find out that that really just chills it out enough where it's not so, you know over the top it's a little bit more acceptable but here's the deal if I'm in a key. Let's say I'm in the key of C major right there 7 chords in the key of C major. I get a C Major D minor and E minor and f a g and a minor and a b half diminished and then back.

So all of these minor chords my 2 Chord my 3 quart and my six chord, I don't care what key. I mean, I can always turn my to my three and my six into a minor 7th chord and it'll keep me in the key. So check it out one was my to court. My 2 chord was a D Minor right?

If instead I decided to make it a D Minor 7 by adding in the flat 7 will what is a flat seven in the key of D?

Here's a d my shortcut is just go back to France. Go back a whole step. That's a see. So now I have a D Minor triad, which is the notes d f and a And I've added in a see by adding in the C. Well C is already in the key of C. The note C is already in there. So it's not like I've left the key by making this a minor 7th chord same thing. If I go to my three-chord my 3 quart is supposed to be E minor, but I can make it an E minor 7 add in the D, which is a flat 7 and D is still in the key.

So by making all these chords my six chord for example at six chord is a minor right and I can make it an A Minor 7 by adding a g and that no G is already in my key of C. So this is really nice because I'm adding in notes to my chords. I'm making my cords more colorful giving them more interest more variety these chords, but I'm not leaving the key at all. So I don't have to worry about accommodating this with a weird scale or figuring out, you know, how to modulate or anything like that. It's really basic stuff just being able to now include minor sevenths as part of my progressions.

So at a very basic level, let's say you were writing a simple chord progression. That was just like your one chord to your three cord to your to cord and then to your fire.

Pretty basic stuff right but I can start taking all those minor chords and I can substitute in for minor 7. So this D Minor will be in E Minor 7 this D Minor E minor 7 and then I can come back to a regular right? So hopefully if you're that secondary version that progression here it is with just minor chords and here it is substituting those for minor 7th chords Might sound a little jazzier to you A lot of people here minor 7th chords and I think of jazz major 7th chords reminds them of jazz. And I do agree. I mean, you're going to hear a lot of those chords in jazz, but Jazz goes way past just these minor sevenths and major sevens, but it does get you into that realm it gives you more into that Lounge territory as opposed to the rock and roll territory. So hopefully you get how easy that is if you know, you're diatonic Formula 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 you can replace the 2 the 3 and the 6 with minor 7th chords and your golden you don't have to worry about anything. So now let's move on to major 7th chords major 7th. Words are when you take a major Triad and you add an actual 7th, not a flatted 7th. So let's take a look at the the chord c major write C. Major is just a 1 3 5 it's a root a third and a fifth and if I want to find the real seventh I can go up Seven notes of my scale 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 and that's the note B. So if I play a C major Triads, I add a b then I get a C major 7 chord. It's a major Triad with a natural side now once again, I hate. Counting up seven notes that can be a pain. So I just like to go back a half step if I'm starting on the Note C. Go back a fret it takes you to the note B.

That's your seventh just move it up an octave instead.

So that's a really easy shortcut if I want to figure out an a major 7 chord, right? Here's an a go back a half step takes you the note G sharp. That's the note. You'll have to add to your a to get an A major 7 chord now to play major 7th chords as a movable shape. What I like to do is put my first finger on the route, like here's a and then I like to play the Major Seventh with my ring finger and then my major third with my pinky. Ernie that and then finally the fifth with my middle finger and I get this shape kind of a weird shape but movable and it gives me all the notes of my major 7 chord right next to each other and nice little easy shape to play. It's a kind of a jazz voicings and you might start getting that Jazzy flavor out of it again to me major 7th chords are pretty stinkin Jazzy and just on their own if you just play a major seven to be that's got a very very Jazzy Lounge style feel to it. They kind of feel a little cheesy to me. If you don't really work with them enough.

I feel like they can be really beautiful. Edible and really really glorious chords really relaxing and really, you know warm chords, but they can get really cheesy. If you put them in the wrong spot. So, you know be a little careful with them just be aware of the cheese Factor when you do something like but if you do want to use these chords in the key, it's a simple as substituting them in for your one chord or substituting them in for your four chord. I can play a major 7th chord off. The root is already in the key.

Also if I go to my four chord, which is f i could make It's an F major 7 and the note I'm adding in is in key. That's the note E.

So I want you to remember that if you're in any key, I don't care what key you're in you can take your one chord and make it a major 7 chord. You can take your four chord and make it a major 7 chord and you're going to stay in key without having to worry about anything. So just a second ago. Remember I play that chord progression of went 1 3 to 5.

Let's do that. Same thing will just substitute r 1 and now with a major 7th chord, so we've got one as C major 7.

We've got our three chord as an e-minor 7 Now we've got our two as D Minor 7.

And then finally we're going to go to our five chord for G Major by did those in different voicings maybe fingerpick instead. I'll have a C major 7 like this and then an E minor 7, I'll go down to D Minor 7 and then G major just like this and hopefully you can hear that sounds a little bit more colorful than my initial chord progressions. Got a lot more interest going on there. Now, let's talk about dominant 7th chords In 7th chord is simply a major Triad but you've added in a flatted 7th.

So let's go back to our example in a right in a we played in a major Triad and we added a G-sharp because that was a half step behind it. Now. We have to play an E major Triad in it at in a g.

So, you know an a chord looks like this smack a g in there you get a a Sabbath than a dominant 7 a lot of times we don't you say the word dominant. We just call it an A7 and this is where a lot of people get confused A7 is different than a major 7, they're both major Triad.

Ads but the Major Seventh chord actually includes the major 7th note and the dominant seventh chord includes the flatted 7th note. So that was the thing that really got me. I always confuse those two and I couldn't figure out why they were different chords when they seem to have the same name.

It's really not major 7 includes the Major Seventh dominant 7th or seventh just includes that flatted 7th. Now the dominant 7th chord is in key when you build it off of the five chord. So in the key of C major, my five chord is G and if I make it a G7 and the shape that I use is just my normal bar chord. But without my pinky and that gives me a seventh chord like that. I can move that around and this is the dominant chord in the key of C this 5 chord with a dominant 7th played off of it is called the dominant chord and we've made it a dominant Sabbath and it takes us back very well to our tonic. It takes us back to the one chord very strong.

So there's really only one place you can play 7th chords and stay in key that is off the 5 position and that seems kind of limiting right? You think that 7th chords are so popular. We should see him all over the place. Well we do. I am all over the place but most of the time when you see them, they're actually out of key there including a note that's not in the key and you can understand this concept further by studying my video on secondary dominance where we're using 7th chords all over the place, but they're taking us back to our boards in our key. So really here's what it comes down to you need to memorize that your to cord your three chord and your six chord. Those are all the minor chords those can all become minor sevenths and you'll stay in key. You also want to memorize that your one chord and your four chord can become major 7th chords and that will keep you in key and your five chord could become Dominant 7th chord and that will also keep you in key memorizing that helps you compose with more interesting chord progressions in any mode of major and here's what I mean. We know that c major is the same thing as a minor. So if I want to compose in the key of A minor I can still use all these cool extended chords that we just figured out. All I have to do is just focus on the a minor chord. So let's do some actual writing here with this basic concept. I want to write in a minor and I want to use some extended chords. I don't want to use just major and minor I want to use some of these minor sevenths and Major Seventh. Yes, so let's start on our a minor chord and let's sub it in for our minor seventh that gives me my a minor 7.

Let's go to the D minor chord and instead of just making it minor will make it Minor 7 and then let's go to the F and the F can become an F. Major 7. I'm thinking of this as my six chord because I'm thinking I'm in the key of A minor. So this is like my flat six chord, and then finally, let's go to that G chord, but we're going to make it a G7 instead.

Give it a little tension to come back to a minor 7 and instead of playing. An open position, let's play it with some bar chord shapes. Here's an A Minor 7.

Here's a D Minor 7.

Here's an F major 7 and a G7.

All right. So what I'm going to do is put this together into a whole jam. And what I started off doing is recording just the guitar part first with this really simple Rhythm and I knew eventually I was going to add a Shaker so I started off with this really simple pattern and then I added a little play to give it a little bit more movement.

After that, I programmed in the following drum beat keeping the snare on 2 and 4 for a steady back be the having the kick play a simple repeating pattern.

Next I wrote a baseline, which normally I would do on my bass guitar, but I'm trying to spend more time on my MIDI controller. So I grabbed the subtractor synthesizer and stayed on the preset patch which is already a base and then I wrote the following line.

Over the a minor 7 chord, I just outlined some chord tones going up and down and then finally land on a deed to emphasize the D Minor 7 chord.

However from there. I just walk up the scale in order to get to our next note f Once I'm there, I do the exact same chord tone outlining as before with the same Rhythm and then I end up on the Note G to support that last chord.

But instead of walking up the scale from here to go back to a I only went up a half step to get to our natural seventh to help pull a strongly back to our route.

After that, I figure the song could use some layers. So I started off with this roads keyboard that just plays whole notes on each chord.

And then I do these little dyads on a Reverb e synthesizer to add a little more interest without getting in the way.

And then lastly I wrote the simple Groove and played around with it on ass as patch until I could get a percussive clavichord like sound.

So the group turned out really well with all those different layers and from there. It was just a matter of playing around with the a minor scale on top adding a little bit of chromatic notes for interest to get like a nice little Jam section going eventually. I fell into like a little melodic pattern.

So after I recorded this I doubled that melodic pattern with another synthesizer to kind of make it seem like a really prominent part of the song. So here's what it sounds like all together.

So that's just for little cords on a loop and I could Jam all day over that without getting bored. I think it sounds really good. I think it sounds really interesting for for little cords and what helps it sound. So interesting is that it's not just a major and minor major and minor Triads can get a little Bland but as soon as you start extending them as soon as you start adding in those sevens Things become a little bit more interesting. There's a little bit more depth to your chord progression a little bit more to explore now. I definitely want to mention you don't have to stay in Keys. That's not a requirement and especially with these extended Chords. It's fun to just think about how it fits in outside of keys and Head so I like to think of minor 7th chords as just substitutes for minor. I don't care if the minor 7th chord is in the key or not just experiment with using them to help take away the bite of a minor chord but most of the time because of the way our scales work out most of the time when you play A Minor 7, it's not going to disturb your key. Very rarely going to be including a note that's outside of your key. When you do a minor 7th chord, four major 7th chords, though. I really do get a lot of fun on stringing together random major 7th chords out of key. This is very similar to the god cord concept I talked About if you just throw together God chords that are totally out of key and make them all major 7. It sounds pretty awesome. So like here's a C major 7.

Let's move it up a minor third E flat major 7. I love that change and there's no scale that really accommodates both of those or even just going down a half step. Here's a C major 7 and then down a half step to a B. Major 7.

I like that kind of dreamy.

Lullaby change now fun little thing you can do with dominant 7th chords is just play. I'm off of every note of your pentatonic minor scale. So you guitar players probably know a pentatonic is being a CD will play a dominant seventh chord off of each of those notes a 7c 7D 7 E7 G 7 and if you add up all the notes, I just played there. There's no way it fits into one key signature, but you can rock out on those words all day long. And even though it ends up being a mess of of chromatic notes all through there. It's still works really well for the blues. That's the whole idea for the blues. It doesn't fit into a key nice. And well, the blues is all about the Clashing of those thirds and the dissonance that occurs between there. So a fun way to use dominant 7th chords is to just literally kind of slide them around stick to that pentatonic framework, and you're going to get some really good Blues progressions coming out of it. So, I hope you enjoyed this video, and I hope you learned something. If you did like this video you can thank my patreon supporters for making it possible. Thanks for watching and I'll see you next time.


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