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How to Play Major 7th Chords on Piano

Aug. 4, 2023
Posted in: Piano
How to Play Major 7th Chords on Piano
Learn how to easily build root position major 7th chords. Then learn three common voicings for variety, plus a bonus voicing that is a personal favorite of mine. These are great to use when improvising, reading lead sheets, or composing to improve your musicality.
Jacob

Jacob

Music Instructor | Sage Music

How to play major 7th chords on piano

Time: 1 minute
Supplies: Piano

When people start taking piano lessons, one of the first things they learn is how to build basic chords, without the 7th. But the 7th makes them so much more interesting! So let's learn how.

Starting from the root, and thinking intervalically is an easy way to create your major 7th chord.

This example will be in C major, but this method will work in all keys. It's important to know your major scales and your intervals before continuing.

1. Add the major 3rd

Starting from the root, go up a major third, (Two whole-steps), or you can count 4 1/2 steps. C would be 0 then C# is 1, D is 2, D# is 3, and finally our 4th 1/2 step brings us to E. Through both methods you should arrive at the note E.

2. Add the Perfect 5th

After we have the 3rd in place we can add the 5th of the chord. There are a few ways we can do this.

Starting from the 3rd of chord, in this case E, we can go up a minor 3rd to G. You can also count up from E 3 1/2 steps to G - using the same method as above.

Another way is to go from the Root up to the 5th. In this case we would go from C up a perfect 5th to G. Or using the counting method it would be 7 1/2 steps from the root.

3. Add the major 7th

Finally, adding the Major 7th to the chord . Go from G up major 3rd to B. Or using the counting method count 4 1/2 steps up from G to B

Additionally you can go from the Root of the chord up a Major 7th to B. Or using the counting method you can count 11 1/2 steps from the root.

Which gives us our final chord of C, E, G, B

Chord Voicings

Next we need to arrange the notes of the chord so that they can create a rich sound on the piano. This will also give the chord a different color and allow us to play it in different ranges on the instrument.

The first way we are going to voice the chord is as follows:

Left hand will play the Root and the 7th and the right hand will play the 3rd and 5th.

You can also have the left hand play the Root and the right hand take the 7th, 3rd, and 5th.

A basic voicing of a major 7th chord

Extended Chords

C maj 7th chord on piano with added 9th
C maj 7th chord on piano with added 9th

Once we have our basic structure of the voicing we can start to add additional tones to give it a even thicker sound. It will also add a bit of desired dissonance.

There are 3 ways we can add and embellish our basic voicing:

Add in a 9th on the chord.

Replace the 5th with a 13th.

And finally just a really fun voicing that I love to play on 7th chords. It's got the 9th and the #11 and its built in 5ths.

A view of the ways to add to the basic 7th chord voicing
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Rey David De Los Santos
7 months, 4 weeks ago
Keep posting more please!
0 Replies