(Natural) Minor Diatonic 4-Note (7th) Chords / Music Theory Lesson

Author: sleepfreaks

(Natural) Minor Diatonic 7th Chords

Previously we took a look at minor diatonic triad chords.
Currently, we have 7 chords in each minor key.
* In this article, “minor” will refer to the “natural minor” scale.

Like we did with major keys, lets take a look at 7th chords and expand on our knowledge.
In addition, we will begin to see a certain “issue” that arises with minor keys.

We will make chords similar to how we did with major keys.
The biggest key is that these are “chords that can be used in a specific key”, meaning that in the Key=A minor for example, they will be made up of notes solely from the A minor scale.


How Minor Diatonic 7th Chords are Made

We will be looking at the key of A minor again, so we have the A minor scale prepared below.


Lets add one more note on top of the triads we saw in our last article.

With the starting note “A”, we will jump over 1 note at a time and stack 3 notes on top.
In this case, we have C, E, and G. You can copy and paste if using your DAW.
Lets go ahead and enter in the 2nd octave of the scale from the start as well.

When we’ve finished up to G, lets take a look at the completed group of 4 note (7th) chords we have.

If you are having trouble differentiating the chord types, move them all to have a root note of C.
* Move each chord so the lowest note becomes C.

We have Am7 on the furthest left, making it easy to see what the other chord types are.
Return them back to normal, and lets take a look at the diatonic chords in this key.

From the left, we have:

minor 7th / minor 7th b5 / major 7th / minor 7th / minor 7th / major 7th / dominant 7th

Like with the diatonic triads, this order remains the same in other minor keys as well.

Ex:Diatonic 7th Chords in C (Natural) Minor

In addition, the relative relationship between C major and A (natural) minor applies to the 7th chords as well. This means that the diatonic chords are the same, and just start from different points.


The “Issue” with Natural Minor Diatonic Chords?

Now lets take a look at a special point for natural minor diatonic chords.
(We are focusing on “natural” in particular. This will be explained in further detail in a future article)

When we look closely, the 5th chord doesn’t have the Leading Tone (note connecting half-step up to tonic).
* From our 27th article


For the 7th chords, it’s a minor 7th, and there is no leading tone as well as no tritone.

This will certainly cause some sort of issue when making songs in a minor key.

At this point in time, keep in mind that there is something found in the major diatonic chords that isn’t found in the natural minor diatonic chord, and stay tuned for our next article!

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.