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How to Play 7th Chords on Guitar



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seven chords in my opinion one of the

most incorrectly used chords out there

it seems to me that a lot of times I

hear them as transitional segues and

really bad sitcoms

or in the music that they play a while

they describe the sound effects and

pharmaceutical drug commercials there's

so much more than that

and I want to talk about what goes

behind a 7 chord and how to make them in

different ways now when you see a 7

chord like a g7 or an a7 it's actually

shorthand for G dominant 7 which is

different than G major 7 or G minor 7

anything like that so I want to talk

about why it's so dominant it's still

dominant about a dominant 7 chord so if

you have a G let's take the easiest one

to play is G this is the first fret I'm

a high E string you can play the bottom

four strings like that or you can kind

of make our traditional G and then

switch it here now what's happening is

we're just altering one note in a G

chord when you're first playing you

might think this is in the key of G but

the thing about it's seven chord or a

dominant seven chord is if you're

playing a g7 musically you cannot be in

the key of G and the reason this is is

because of music theory so if you have a

g7 chord you're actually in the key of C

musically speaking that doesn't mean

that's the only place you can use it but

I'll explain why that is so a G major

chord is a G V and an Inc so if you're

in the key of G you'd have a G a B C D F

sharp G those are your notes and what a

seven chord any kind of seven chord is

doing is taking the first third fifth

and seventh notes of that key and

combining so if you're in the key of G

you took the first note is G the second

note would be the second on the chord so

the one three the fifth note is a D and

the seventh note would be an f-sharp now

if you combined all those notes together

you would get a G major 7 but what a

dominant seven is is you flatten the

seventh note so instead of having an

f-sharp in there

I haven't path so G major 7

which would be in the key of G or G down

into seven g7 as very signature sound

major 707 major major 7 o da Minnesota

so in different keys the notes will line

up to give you that ass in a different

key so let's go to the key of C real

quick which the notes are C now for you

to take C's chord we'd have a C and E

and a G and then if we add the seventh

note we'll have a beer which would give

us AC major stamina or a couple

different voicings now if we do the same

thing with G we start on G's note which

in the key of C G is a fifth note okay

so if we start at five and the key of C

you will start with G note G is going to

have a G if you skip a note you'll have

a B and C have another one's a D it's a

G B D that makes a G major so G major is

actually the fifth chord in the key of C

now if we were to add the next note in

the key of C to G the seventh note from

G with these same numbers you would have

an F now remember when you did it in the

key of G we had enough sharp now we have

an F so if we play those notes together

that's how you achieve a dominant seven

chord so in any key the fifth note in

that key is going to be where the

dominant seven chord

resides so it's a good thing to kind of

at least be able to count off musically

in any key or and where that note is and

then you can actually use it in more

creative ways if you want to use it as a

five use it as a five traditionally use

it as a one you can kind of like

actually break these rules once you know

them and it makes more sense when you

break them so for example I'm going to

play the notes in the key of C starving

so G a B C F naught F so back to G now

scale-wise is actually different motors

called the mixolydian so for you to play

those notes in order and arpeggio of a V

G B D F okay and knowing this we can

start making different shapes and that's

why we're going to talk about some

different voicings of a dominant seven

so it's not always the same now the most

traditional one I usually see Barre

chord wise is like this so it's just

really taking a major Barre chord and

then removing your pinky what that's

doing is it's freeing up there's no

playing this note which is we just saw

was one two three four five six seven

but dominant seven otherwise known as

the flat seven sometimes you'll hear all

like G with a flat seven is a g7 which

is true but a different voice and you

can do this kind of cool that you see in

like cool jazz songs and wherever is

this one right here now I'm playing the

G I'm actually skipping the a string I'm

not gonna hear it I'm going right to

that seven so there's a gene down to

seven or G flat seven then I'm adding B

which is really the third of G octave up

I'm just playing three notes not so what

I have is I have a G and B so what's

happening is the five in this chord

you'll notice there's no D for most

Jesus are Jesus supposed to have a D in

it to make it a major chord or minor

chord or whatever but we're implying the

D in this instance so it still sounds

most of the way there so it still counts

as a g7 now these are movable shapes so

this G sharp seven

7:00 a.m. to 7:00 a lot of people play a

seven like this so these are all

different voicings of what we can do

here now again the easiest one to do is

a g7 like this you just hold this down

now if you think of this as a movable

shape so we wanted to play G sharp seven

let's move it up a frat and just bar the

other ones here so you can think of this

as being the seven that you need to add

to a chord so what I mean by that is

like okay here's a regular if you think

of your root note this is a G G major if

you think of your root note being right

here and backing it off two frets it'll

always give you the flat seven of any

key so if you're looking for a seven

chord you can track the root note

they're looking for like let's say I'm

looking for a c7 I know that the eighth

right here is a C I can back it up

that'll give me C's flat seven and I can

just borrow it like I would be here but

the frets doing

you

so it's a pretty easy chord voicing just

kinda have to hold down a few chords

it's kind of like a mini bar chord I

guess that you can use anywhere so we've

got a couple different voicings we've

got this new in here you got this one so

you can octave up and then we'll do

we'll do another one which is gonna be

if you're rooting on the a string so as

I should go all the way down 10th fret

on the a string there's another G right

if we have a regular major Barre work

this G major

we got to turn this note into this is

that seven again all right so we can do

that and actually he was a barre chord

like this what you've you're playing

acoustic air especially that can kind of

put some pressure on your hand so maybe

you want to make this easier let's

assume like this and again we can imply

using a three note chord we're implying

that fourth note making that a seven

chord again these are all movable shapes

now because there's no open strings so

now we can move this all over the place

so knowing music theory and knowing how

to come about a seven will help you make

any chord in any spot on the guitar that

you want and the last thing so what's so

dominant about a down in a 7th chord

it's kind of a weird name something I

thought for a while to you now the

reason it's called a dominant 7 is

because it occurs like we talked about

earlier on the fifth note in a scale so

again if I'm and cu5 is G right aside

from the one note this is a pull is a

musical pull to the fifth note in any

key that's why in a lot of songs if

there's if is in the key of C it's

probably g chord in there too because

that five chord that fifth note pulls

you musically a lot so it's a very

dominant sound inside of the key I guess

that's the way that I like to think

about it so the reason is called the

dominant seven is because it occurs on

the five in music theory you don't

always have to use it on the five if you

know what I mean by saying that but

that's where musically if it's

best now again knowing all this now you

can make more creative decisions like I

know a lot of blues players treat a

dominant 7 on the 3 chord so again what

that means is if I was in the key of C

my third note is an e so the core would

be e minor 7 chord to be e minor 7 now

some players treat that as if that were

a dominant thing so I'm going outside of

the key but I'm going to play that E as

an e7 e dominant 7 ok so I'm going to

add that to my other chords so I can

have two seven chords and same thing

I'll start with a regular C major

- maybe a minor to e7 and that sounds

fine it sounds kind of like interesting

but that's just one way of creatively

using music theory to make up your own

your own interesting chord progressions

just like that so that was just like a

1/5

three chord progression but that three

is in a traditional 390 minors in ECM so

knowing all these rules can give you an

identity as a player and that'll make

your chord progressions sound

differently and once you know these

things and you can kind of like isolate

how to make a song sound more like your

style of playing so it's really

important down to seven points there you

go