Vol.17 No.8

Techniques: Seventh Chords

…and the sound of a root, third, fifth and seventh note getting together

National Standards: 1-3, 5-7, 9, 11


As Forrest Gump would say, “music is like a box of crayons….” Wait, that’s not it… Either way, the colors in a crayon box allow you to draw just about anything you can imagine. The more you have, the more creative possibilities! This is the same with notes and different combinations of them. Putting together different roots, thirds, fifths and sevenths create different colored sounds.


Have the class read Techniques: Introduction to Seventh Chords (page 22 of the student edition).

Example 1

Ask: What is a triad? What is the difference between a major third and a minor third?

Example 2

Discuss: Combining a major third with another major third, or a major third with a minor third, or a minor third with a major third, etc. creates different sounding chords. 

Ask: What combination of triads creates a dominant 7 chord?

Example 3

Listen to Miles Davis performing “Autumn Leaves.” Pay attention to the sound of the piano chords in the background!

Example 4:

Listen to Stevie Wonder performing “Isn’t She Lovely.” How do the chords in this song sound different from those in “Autumn Leaves.”

Now listen to “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinnochio.  Pay close attention to how the notes in the melody move from one to the other.