# 5.8 Seventh chords: introduction

 Category: Harmony | Tags: Chords, Seventh chords

### Theory

In this chapter you will learn the names of the four tones of a seventh chord. You learn the best way to build seventh chords. Further, you learn the name of the tones of the seven different basic seventh chords. You will practice these names in the exercise.

## 1. Root, third, fifth and seventh

In Chapter 2.9 Chords you’ve learned that a four tone chord, comprised of 3 thirds, is called a seventh chord. The seventh chord A - C - E - G is made up of the thirds A - C, C - E and E - G.

A seventh chord is built up of four tones, the lowest tone, two middle tones and the highest tone.

The lowest tone of a seventh chord is called the root. The root is the most important tone and gives its name to the seventh chord.
The second tone is called the third. Its named for the distance between the root note and the second tone, which is a third.
The third tone is called the fifth. Its named for the distance between the root note and the third tone, which is a fifth.
The highest tone is called a seventh. This, because the distance between the lowest tone and the highest tone is a seventh.

### How do you make a seventh chord?

If you make a seventh chord, begin with the root. Then, add a third, a fifth and a seventh to this root. This is the best way to build seventh chords. Don’t add a third to the root and another third to that note and another third to that note. This will become confusing at some point, and mistakes will arise.

For example, if you want to make a triad on E, the root is E. Add a third to the E, which is G. Add a fifth to the E - that is B. Add a seventh to the E - that is D. Now you have E - G - B - D. Use this only system to make seventh chords!

### Examples

A seventh chord is comprised of a root, a third, a fifth and a seventh.

## 2. The seven basic seventh chords

In the example above, we’ve made a seventh chord on A. You’ve seen that you get the tones A - C - E - G. You can do the same on B, then you'll get B - D - F - A. And, you can make a seventh chord starting on C, D, E, F and G. Because there are seven different natural notes, you kan make seven different seventh chords based on these tones. There are seven different basic seventh chords. A seventh chord with root note C is called a C-chord, etc. In the table under this text, you can see the seven different basic seventh chords.

#### The seven basic seventh chords

Natural note Seventh chord Root Third Fifth Seventh
A A C E G A C E G
B B D F A B D F A
C C E G B C E G B
D D F A C D F A C
E E G B D E G B D
F F A C E F A C E
G G B D F G B D F

If you want to understand and use chords correctly, it is very important that you learn these basic seventh chord - that you know their names, of which tones they are comprised and can play them. All seventh chords, even the most complicated, are based on these seven basic chords.

### Examples

Which tones do you get if you make seventh chord on the natural notes?

## 3. Practise

Harmony exercise 5b: practise determining the third, fifth and seventh of a seventh chord.

Harmony exercise 5c: practise determining the root of a seventh chord.