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Encyclopedia > Diminished seventh

A seventh chord is a chord or triad which has a note the seventh above the tonic in it. In its earliest usage, the seventh was introduced solely as an embellishing or nonchord tone. The seventh destabilized the triad, and allowed the composer to emphasize movement in a given direction. As time progressed and the collective ears of the western world became more accustomed to dissonance, the seventh was allowed to become a part of the chord itself, and in some modern music, and jazz in particular, nearly every chord is a seventh chord. The next natural step in composing tertian chords is to add the note a third above the fifth of the chord, or the seventh of the chord. In music and music theory, a chord (from the middle English cord, short for accord) is three or more different notes or pitches sounding simultaneously, or nearly simultaneously, over a period of time. ... In music or music theory, a triad is a tonal or diatonic tertian trichord. ... In music, see the intervals: seventh, musical group Major seventh minor seventh The leading tone or subtonic, and the chord built on the leading tone, is often called simply the seventh as it is the seventh scale degree. ... The tonic is the first note of a musical scale, and in the tonal method of music composition it is extremely important. ... A nonchord tone or non-harmony note is a tone in a piece of homophonic music which is not in the chord that is formed by the other tones playing and in most cases quickly resolves to a chord tone. ... A nonchord tone or non-harmony note is a tone in a piece of homophonic music which is not in the chord that is formed by the other tones playing and in most cases quickly resolves to a chord tone. ... In poetry, dissonance is the deliberate avoidance of patterns of repeated vowel sounds (see assonance). ... In music or music theory, tertian is the quality of a chord constructed from thirds, and other things constructed from thirds such as counterpoint. ...


Because a variety of sevenths may be added to a variety of chords, there are many types of seventh chords, depending on the type of triad and the quality of the seventh. In music or music theory, a triad is a tonal or diatonic tertian trichord. ...

Contents


Types of seventh chords

Most textbooks name these chords formally by the type of triad and type of seventh; hence, a chord consisting of a major triad and a minor seventh above the root is referred to as a "major/minor seventh chord." When the triad type and seventh type are identical, the name is shortened; a major/major seventh is generally referred to as a "major seventh."


Of the eight possible constructions of seventh chords using major and minor thirds, five are most commonly found in western music. They are built as indicated below:

  • Major Seventh (formally "major/major seventh", also maj7, M7, Δ): root, major third, perfect fifth, major seventh
  • Minor Seventh (formally "minor/minor seventh", also m7, 7): root, minor third, perfect fifth, minor seventh
  • Major/Minor Seventh (7, Mm7): root, major third, perfect fifth, minor seventh
  • Half Diminished Seventh (formally "diminished/minor seventh", a.k.a. "7b5" or "seven[th,] flat five" among jazz musicians, also ø7, m7b5): root, minor third, diminished fifth, minor seventh
  • Fully Diminished Seventh (formally "diminished/diminished seventh", also °7): root, minor third, diminished fifth (tritone), diminished seventh (sixth)

The other three possible seventh chords – the minor/major seventh (also m/maj7, m/M7), the augmented/major seventh, and the augmented/augmented seventh – are rarely seen in western music.


The seventh chord built on the dominant of a major or harmonic minor scale is a major/minor seventh. When placed in this context, it is labeled the dominant seventh chord and is the most commonly used seventh chord in western music.


The dominant seventh

Of all the seventh chords, perhaps the most important to understand is the dominant seventh chord. Called the Dominant Seventh because its intervallic relationships occur naturally in the seventh chord built on the dominant scale degree of a given key, the dominant seventh chord was the first to begin to appear regularly in Western music. In music theory, the key identifies the tonic triad, the chord, major or minor, which represents the final point of rest for a piece, or the focal point of a section. ...


The dominant seventh chord is useful to composers because of the fact that it is a major chord with a very strong sound, that also includes a tritone between the third and seventh of the chord. In a diatonic context, the third of the chord is the leading-tone of the scale, which has a strong tendency to pull towards the tonal center, or root note, of the key. This, in combination with the strength of root movement by fifth, and the natural resolution of the dominant triad to the tonic triad, creates an incredibly satisfying resolution with which to end a piece. Because of this original usage, it also quickly became an easy way to trick the listener's ear with a deceptive cadence. The augmented fourth between C and F# forms a tritone. ... In music theory, a leading-tone (called the leading-note outside the US) is a note or pitch which is resolves or leads to a note one semitone higher or lower, being an lower and upper leading-tone, respectively. ... Counterpoint is a very general feature of music (especially prominent in much Western music) whereby two or more melodic strands occur simultaneously – in separate voices, either literally or metaphorically (if the music is instrumental). ... In Western musical theory a cadence (Latin cadentia, a falling) is a particular series of intervals (a caesura) or chords that ends a phrase, section, or piece of music. ...


The most important usage, though, is the way that the introduction of a non-diatonic dominant seventh chord which is borrowed from another key, can allow the composer to modulate to that other key. In music, modulation is most commonly the act or process of changing from one key (tonic, or tonal center) to another, also known as a key change. ...


This technique is extremely common, particularly since the classical period, and has led to further innovative uses of the dominant seventh chord such as secondary dominant, extended dominant, and substitute dominant chords. Secondary dominants are a kind of chord used in musical harmony. ... In music, substitute dominant chords are also known as Sub-V (pronounced Sub Five) chords because they originate from a reharmonisation of the original dominant chord. ...


Frequent use of the dominant seventh is one of the defining characteristics of barbershop harmony; barbershoppers refer to it as "the barbershop seventh." Gotcha!, 2004 International Barbershop Quartet Champion Barbershop harmony is a style of unaccompanied vocal music characterized by consonant four-part chords for every melody note in a predominantly homophonic texture. ...


Major and Minor Seventh Chords

While the dominant seventh chord is typically built on the fifth (or dominant) degree of a major scale, the minor seventh chord is built on the second, third, or sixth degree. A minor seventh chord contains the same notes as an added sixth chord (see below under "Sixth chords") - for example, C-Eb-G-Bb can function as both a C minor seventh and an E flat added sixth.


Major seventh chords are usually constructed on the first or fourth degree of a scale, (in C or G major: C-E-G-B). Due to the major seventh interval between the root and seventh (C-B, a inverted minor second), this chord can sometimes sound a bit dissonant, depending on the voicing used. Example: Bacharach/David's "Rain Drops Keep Fallin' On My Head" opens with a major chord followed by a major seventh in the next measure.


Half-Diminished Seventh Chords

A half-diminished seventh chord is a seventh chord built from the seventh degree of a major scale. It's considered "half-diminished" because a true diminished seventh has a double-flatted seventh, making it the same as a major sixth. The half-diminished seventh chord uses a minor seventh over a diminished triad.


External Links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Diminished seventh - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (613 words)
In an equal tempered tuning, a diminished seventh is equal to nine semitones, a ratio of 1:2
The diminished seventh is a context dependent dissonance.
The diminished seventh chord is a nondiatonic chord.
seventh chord: Information from Answers.com (1031 words)
Because a variety of sevenths may be added to a variety of chords, there are many types of seventh chords, depending on the type of triad and the quality of the seventh.
Called the Dominant Seventh because its intervallic relationships occur naturally in the seventh chord built on the dominant scale degree of a given key (e.g., G7 in the key of C major), the dominant seventh chord was the first to begin to appear regularly in Western music.
The dominant seventh chord is useful to composers because it is a major chord with a very strong sound, that also includes a tritone between the third and seventh of the chord.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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