7th chordsJazz is a unique style, full of twists and turns and hundreds of variations. Even the most unique style has its common aspects, though, and for jazz, these are chords. Namely, they are chords called seventh chords.

Seventh chords are closely related to triads. In fact, each seventh chord is a triad with an added seventh.

Seventh chords possess a very distinctive sound, a quality achieved by dissonance. Every seventh chords contains a dissonant interval, and in music, this means that every seventh chord begs for resolutions.

Because they are such open ended sounding chords, they are a great tool to use within any style of music.

How to Construct the 7th Chords

Today we are going to discuss how to build seventh chords on your bass guitar. Before we can construct seventh chords, though, we need to learn to build triads on the bass guitar. Triads are a three note chord consisting of a root, a third, and a fifth. A Major triad is built of a Major third, with a minor third stacked on top.

For example, if we were to make a C Major tonic triad, we would first have to start on C and move a Major third upwards, which would bring us to E (C#, D, D#, E.) Our E note would be our third. To come to a perfect fifth, we would need to move a further minor third, which would bring us to G (F, F#, G.)

adding the seventh to the chord extensionThis means our C Major tonic triad would consist of the notes C, E, and G. To create a supertonic minor triad, we would first need to move a minor third from D, bringing us to F (D#, E, F.) Our note E would be our third. To get to our perfect fifth, we would need to move up a further Major third (F#, G, G#, A.) This means that our minor triad would consist of the notes D, F, and A.

Now since both of our triads have a root (a first), a third, and a fifth, it seems pretty basic that our next interval would bring us to a seventh. A basic Major seventh chord is built by adding a further Major third to the end of a Major triad.

Building the Seventh is as Easy as Adding a Note

A basic minor seventh chord is built by adding a second minor third to the end of a minor triad. This means that, using our C Major tonic triad, we would simply need to move a further Major third to achieve a seventh chord. This interval would bring us to the note B (G#, A, A#, B.) This means our Major seventh chord consist of the notes C, E, G and B.

Now for our supertonic triad to become a seventh chord, we would need to add a minor third on top of our triad. This would bring us to the note C (A#, B, C.) This means that our supertonic triad in the key of C Major would consist of the notes D, F, A, and C.

Now that you know how seventh chords are built, try building some of your own. Don’t limit yourself to one section of your fret board; try moving the notes to different sections to achieve different pitches. Have fun!

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