This is a four part series to help you expand your chord vocabulary.
In this first part we’ll cover the two Major 7th chords: G Major 7 and C Major 7.
Major 7th Chord Vs 7th Chord
These are two different types of chords that look similar and can sometimes confuse people. The Major 7th chord is different from the 7th chord (sometimes referred to as a dominant 7th chord).
This means CM7 (or C major 7) is different from C7.
A Teeny Weeny Bit Of Chord Theory
First I want to make it clear that the most important part of this lesson is to learn to finger the chords, play them without buzzing strings and be able to change smoothly and in time.
That said, for those who are curious and have a little bit of music theory this is for you.
Major 7th Chord
- Has an open and bright sound that many people describe as uplifting.
- Is formed from a major Triad along with a note that is a major 7th interval from the root. In the case of a CM7 chord that note would be a B.
- Often used as a substitute for the I (one) chord in a key. The I chord is the same as the key (i.e. in the key of C the I chord is C).
- Used in all popular styles of music were a bright major sound is desired.
- Can be written Cmaj7, CMaj7, CM7, C major 7
7th Chord (Dominant 7th)
- This chord has a bit of tension in it which makes it sound like it wants to move to another chord, often the I (one) chord of the key.
- Formed from a major Triad along with a note that is the minor 7th interval from the root. In the case of a C7 chord that note would be a B-flat (½ step lower than the major 7th interval).
- Often used as the V (5) chord in the key because it helps increase that feeling of wanting to go “home” or to the I chord.
- In blues the 7th chord is used all over the place, including the I chord.
- Usually written C7
Examples Of The Major 7th Chord
Here’s just a few popular songs that use major 7th chords and have a sound associated with the major 7th.
This Boy (Beatles)
Make It With You (Bread)
Tin Man (America)
Imagine (John Lennon)
You’ve Made Me So Very Happy (Blood, Sweat and Tears)
Band On The Run (Paul McCartney and Wings)