In addition to the standard major and minor triads that we just covered, there are 7th Chords. You can find a 7th Chord by taking any major or minor triad and adding another major or minor third on top of the 5th.
C Maj 7 Chord
You can add a major or a minor third to a major or minor chord. So that means there are four potential types of seventh chords.
- Major 7th: Major chord + major third
- 7th: Major chord + minor third
- Minor (Major 7th): Minor chord + major third
- Minor 7th: Minor chord + minor third.
7th Chords have more “colour” and offer a more complex feeling. They’re typically used a lot in jazz, r&b, house, and techno.
Once you’ve spent some time writing chord progressions, you may want to try using inverted chords. This simply means taking the lowest note in the chord, and playing it above the other two, or taking the highest note and playing it below the bottom two. Using an inversion doesn’t change the chord but simply changes the tonal quality, making it sound potentially brighter or darker. Inversions are also practical for pianists because they allow you to keep your hand in one spot, rather than moving it up and down the piano drastically.
To take it one step further, you could open up the voicing of the chord, and play the three or four notes farther apart on the keyboard, maybe even three or four octaves apart. Try writing a progression, then adjust the voicing and a/b the results.
If you’d like to take your understanding of chords to a deeper level, and if you have access to a MIDI keyboard, synth or piano, try practicing all of the triads in this module by following this chord road map:
C — F — Bb — Eb — Ab — Db — Gb — B — E — A — D — G — C
Pick one triad to practice at a time. Start by playing C and then transitioning to F and back. Move back and fourth until you feel comfortable going between the two and then move from F to Bb. Follow this pattern all the way to the end of the map and back with both your right and left hand. Don’t mix between major and minors, just run each one separately with both hands. Then, after practicing that for a few weeks, move on to practicing the same pattern with all four types of 7th chords.