Chapter Ten : 4 Note Chords > Easy Piano by Ear

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Chapter Ten : 4 Note Chords

Most Used 4 Note Chords:

The most widely used 4 note chord in all genres of music today, is the 7th chord. We are going to learn about 3 kinds of 7th chords. The major 7th chord, the minor 7th chord and the C7 , G7 or A7  also sometimes called the dominant 7th chord. All are unique in sound.

 7th chords are built on the 3 note triad with a 4th note added.

Steps for building. Let’s begin with one of the first triads we learned ….the C major chord : C,E,G. To turn it into a Cmajor7th simply add the 7th note to the triad…. the 7th. note in the scale of C is B;…. C,D,E,F,G,A,B;  therefore C,E,G,B is  C maj.7th . **The quick way of finding the 7th is to reach UP the full octave to C and come back DOWN a semitone.**

Let’s look at the G major chord G,B,D. To turn it into a Gmajor7th add the 7th note of the scale to the triad. The scale of G major is:  G,A,B,C,D,E,F#,G( we use F# because we need a semi-tone or half step in this space). Remember the pattern for a major scale is: T,T,ST, T, T, T, ST. refer to chapter two. Therefore  G maj.7th. is G,B,D,F#.  Go UP the full octave to G and back down a semitone.

Let’s now have a look at C minor 7th. This time start with the C minor triad: C,Eb,G. The 7th note as we know from our example above is B, therefore C min.7th is C,Eb,G,B.

To take it on to G minor, the keys are G,Bb,D……add the 7th and we have G,Bb,D,F#; G  min.7th.

This sounds like a LOT to remember. But just remember a few rules:

  1. The pattern for a major scale: T,T,ST,T,T,T,ST
  2. The 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of the scale make up the major triad of the scale.
  3.  MAJOR triads fall on the I, IV, and V of the scale.
  4. To turn this major triad into a MINOR triad- lower the middle note (the 3rd.)
  5. Minor triads fall on the II, III and IV note of the major scale.
  6. To turn a minor triad into a major triad, raise the 3rd.
  7. To build a major or minor 7th, begin with the major or minor triad, go UP to the octave key, lower a semitone and add the 7th note to the triad.

The Dominant 7th chord is also a 4 note chord based on the major triad with a 4th note added. This 4 note chord is most often found in every genre of music, and is my absolute favorite….also one that is most often incorrectly used.

We’ll begin again with the C maj. triad;  C,E,G;  as before reach up to C, one octave higher, but this time we will come back 2 semitones *.to Bb.   Therefore C7 is C,E,G,Bb.  *I like to think 2 semitones instead of a tone,because in my mind I am saying 1 (on B) and 2 (on Bb)*

Let’s look at F maj and turn it into an F7.  F maj triad is F,A,C : reach up an octave to F and come back 2 semitones;  1 is E, 2 is Eb.                               F7 is written F,A,C,Bb.

On the chord sheets whether in a song book or with lyrics on the internet, these chords are written as follows:

To summarize:

C maj.7 is C,E,G,B                         F maj.7 is F,A,C,E

c min.7 is C,Eb,G,B                       f  min.7 is F,Ab,C,E

C7 is C,E,G,Bb                                 F7 is F,A,C,Eb

Homework 🙂 I will suggest you now go back to chapter eight and play  “the Dirty Dozen” as 4 note 7th chords.

**Rule : major 7th and minor 7th… reach up an octave and lower 1 semitone;                                                                                                                             dom.7th chords…reach up an octave and lower 2 semitones.**

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