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How to Play Dominant 7th Chords on the Piano

Playing Dominant 7th Chords on the Piano

Video Transcription

In this video, we're going to discuss how to build dominant seventh chords. A dominant seventh chord sounds like this. This is a C7. Oftentimes they're written just as the letter C and then a number 7 next to them. You'll see them, very common in the blues progression, so it's a very good chord to learn how to use, to learn the different inversions of it, the different voicings that you can have with it. But essentially, to form it, it's just a triad. If you look, we've got a C major triad on the bottom. And then if you go up a minor third-- and again, a minor third is where you skip two notes-- and add that note onto it, you've got yourself-- this is the B seventh here. This is what's called the flatted seventh. Not to be confused with the major seventh, which sits one half step below the octave. So that's another way to find it. If you form your major triad and then think, "Okay, what is the note a whole step below the octave?" that's always going to be the flatted seven, and that's the seven that you want to form any dominant seventh chord. So if you wanted to form that in a different key, let's say you wanted a D7. First, you start by making your D triad. Then you can either take the octave, which is D, and then come down a whole step. That's your seven. Or if you want to think of it as going up a minor third from the fifth, this would be a minor third. So what you want to do, once you start learning these, is to learn them first in their root position. Root position means the root note is on the bottom. So this is C7 in root position. Start by learning it in all of its inversions. So this is root position. The next inversion is if you took the C and put it on top. So you're basically removing the C, cutting it off and putting it on top. That would be the next inversion. Then to go up another inversion, you're going to take the E and put it on top. So there's another inversion. Then the last inversion is, you're going to take the G and put it in top. Then if you take the B flat and put it on top, you're back to where you started. So practice going-- figuring out those inversions. Play them, just like this, until they get comfortable. Then try breaking them up into arpeggios. Maybe go down. You could do different patterns, maybe skip one. Anything that you can do to make it start to feel comfortable under your fingers. And also, it's a good idea to do them with both hands, to get your both hands feeling them, because a lot of times, you're going to be playing these chords in your left hand, maybe accompanied by a blues scale. So if you notice, I'm playing different inversions down here while I'm playing those blues scale licks. Anyway, take that same format, bring it into all different keys on the piano, and you'll start to get familiar and comfortable with voicings for all of the dominant seven chords.

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