Jazz Seventh Chords
There are a few more seventh chords that are common in jazz music in addition to the
basic seventh chords.
These are chords are very distinct sounding and each have common purposes in jazz harmony.
Here are the three chords discussed here:
Let's start with the minor 7 b5 chord which consists of the notes one, flat three, flat five, and flat seven. The chord symbol is min7 b5 or -7b5 and sometimes it's just a ⌀ (circle with a diagonal line through it). This chord is the diatonic seventh chord built on the seventh degree of the major scale and often functions as the II minor seven chord in a minor II-V progression.
Here's a few notes about the minor 7 b5 chord:
-This is the one chord that you usually shouldn't add the 9th chord tone on (especially in a minor II-V situation) but it does sound distinct to play a major 9 with it in other situations.
-Personally, I seriously love songs that begin with this chord such as Night and Day, Stella by Starlight, What is this Thing Called Love/Hot House, In Your Own Sweet Way, Inner Urge, UMMG, Woody'n You... to name a few.
-Try not playing the flat third and replacing it with the 11th (which is the 4th) for a more clustered, modern sound.
-In a major key, I love sneaking in a II-7 b5 as a passing chord.
Next we'll discuss the minor major 7 chord which consists of the notes one, flat three, five and major seven. the chord symbol is min(maj7), -maj7 and sometimes you will see a triangle instead of the "maj".
Here's a few notes about the minor major 7 chord:
-It sounds very mysterious like from an old detective movie.
-It's a great ending chord in minor songs (feel free to change to a minor 6 chord and maybe add a 9)
-When playing a minor major 7, play the notes from the major 7th to a major 9th which is often said to be one of the most beautiful sounding intervals.
-When improvising modal music in a minor mode (like the song So What), you can occasionally change the minor 7 to a minor major 7 to keep things interesting.
Moving on to the final jazz seventh chord, the diminished seven. This chord consists of a one, flat three, flat five, and a double flatted seventh (which is the same note as a major sixth). The chord symbol is dim7 or sometimes a º7 (circle followed by a seven).
Here's a few notes about the diminished 7 chord:
-It sounds like something scary when played alone, but in context it sounds like it really wants to resolve to the next chord.
-They are great chords to transition in between consecutive diationic chords such as Imaj7 #Idim7 II-7, or V7 #Vdim7 VI-7.
-These also are nice to hit before you play a major chord. For example, if you are playing a Cmaj7, first play a Cdim7 and resolve it to the Cmaj7.
-Diminished 7's are similar to dominant 7 b9 chords because the third to the flat 9 is a diminished 7.
-Diminished 7's are symmetrical and consist of minor thirds stacked on each other, kind of like you take the 12 notes in music and divide it into 4 equal chunks.
-When improvising over these, it's always nice to play something and the repeat it up a minor third again and again and again...
-Try replacing the double flatted seventh with the major seventh to get a very modern, jazzy sound. I usually do this with every diminished 7 that I play because it sounds so hip.