Practical Music Theory Tips #7 – More Seventh Chords

Ryan Egan —  January 15, 2008 — 2 Comments

Ha, how fitting that this post happens to be the 7th tip.

Okay, I was typing this post and realized that this is one of those posts that is probably impossible to explain with just words. As I don’t want to thouroughly confuse everyone, the best way to learn about seventh chords online is to visit our handy dandy site, specifically this lesson. Before you visit that particular lesson, though, familiarize yourself with basic intervals and basic triads.

So now that you’ve learned from a much better source than me on this one, let’s take a look at what you might use these various 7th chords for:

  • V7 or dominant 7 chord: Very helpful for changing keys, playing in place of the vii dim* (in C, the vii dim* is made up of B-D-F, the V7 in C is made up of G-B-D-F; add one note on the bottom and you have a completely different sounding chord that can be used for the same thing!)
  • min7: A great chord to use as a substition for the IV (four) chord, particularly the ii7 chord. As with the V7, the ii7 and the IV share notes (in C, the IV is F-A-C, the ii7 is D-F-A-C). This is particularly helpful when you’re writing music and you can’t move yourself out of using I-IV-V and vi.
  • maj7, half dim* 7, fully dim* 7: All of these chords are used extensively in jazz music. If you’d like to learn to be a better jazz player or you want to give your playing a bit of a jazzy flavor, learn how to use these.

There are way more ways to use 7th chords, but that really would require me to teach a theory class to you! Next time: how to use theory plus your ear to learn songs.

*dim stands for diminished. Check out the lessons on specific intervals at for more information on dimished intervals. By the way, I have no partnership with that website…it’s just the best online website for music theory that I’ve come across and wanted to pass the word along 🙂

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Ryan is a follower of Christ, husband, father, worship leader, & creative. He is heavily involved in the Association of Free Lutheran Churches and desires to teach others to live a life of worship in everything they do.