Four Note Chords - Major Seventh Edition / Music Theory Lesson

Author: sleepfreaks

Moving on From Triads to Four Note (Seventh) Chords

This time, we will begin learning about four note (seventh) chords.
Because “7th” is the common way to call them, we will refer to them as 7th/seventh chords from this point on.

By knowing the information touched upon in our articles on triad chords,
you should be able to quickly get the hang of seventh chords!

First, we will look at the major 7th chord.
Lets hear how it sounds first.

The chord will play after the individual notes are played.

Next, after hearing the C major chord, lets hear the C major 7th chord.


The major chord has an obvious bright sound.
The 7th chord on the other hand has a more complicated sound and emotion to it.

When compared to the more simple triad, 7th chords will have a more “grown-up” and “sophisticated” sound.
✳︎ This does not imply that a four note chord is better than a three note chord

You can use these chord types differently to achieve different feelings within your song.

Major 7th chords are often depicted as the following:


The most common way you may see it written is as

  • C Major 7th = Cmaj7
  • D Major 7th = Dmaj7

Lets take a look at the Cmaj7 chord on notation and the piano roll.



Did you happen to realize something?

That’s right. The majority of this chord is the same as the C major chord.
You’ve already learned the important bits of this chord.



Lets bring our trusty intervals back to see how this chord is made.



It’s mostly a major chord, using the R/M3rd/P5th (1/3/5).

What note is left? Lets extend it out to the right.


By layering the M3rd, P5th, and M7th over the root,
you can create the outline for a basic major 7th chord.

Lets take a look at the scale degrees.


This concludes a basic look at the major 7th chord.

In intervals:

  • R M3rd P5th M7th

In scale degree:

  • 1 3 5 7

Taking a Different Look at Intervals

Using the info we learned, lets put together a “D major 7th chord”.
Here we will show you 1 technique.

The M7th note is far from the root isn’t it?
Because of this, you may end up playing/sequencing the wrong note.

In this case, try taking an “opposite approach”.
This can be done by seeing the relation of the M7th(7) to the root.

Did you notice that the “M7th” note can be found a half-step under the root note as well?


In the case of a Cmaj7, the B is the same as the B a half-step under C (root).

By looking back at the D major 7th chord,
if you can make a D major triad, you can add a note a half-step under D to make the 7th chord.



By knowing this info, you can make a major triad and easily create a 7th chord.

Next time, we will be taking a look at the minor 7th chord.

Article Writer: Kazuma Itoh

講師 伊藤
After moving to the USA at 18 years of age with a scholarship from Berklee, he completed a 4 year study focused on song writing and arranging there.
Using this knowledge, he works across a variety of fields from pop music, film music, and more.