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Summary: Bite-sized articles cover a number of points about music theory.

Seventh Intervals

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Continuing our discussion on the subject of intervals.

The 7th interval has a very strong effect on how a particular chord or arpeggio will blend with another chord or arpeggio or a particular scale.

Generally speaking if a chord includes a Major 7th interval (eg. Amaj7, Amaj9) then it will work best with Major scales, or with other major chords and arpeggios.

If a chord includes the minor 7th interval (flatted 7th) then it will work best with dominant chord types (E7, E9, E13 etc..) or with minor chords (Bm7, Bm9 etc.) or with the Mixolydian scale.

There is one notable exception which is the chord known by the somewhat confusing name of minor major 7th (sometimes called minor natural 7th). Its formula is 1 b3 5 7 so Amin/maj7 would comprise the notes A C E G#. This chord effectively contains both minor (b3) and major (natural 7) tonality which gives the chord a special inner tension all of its own!

The b3 interval really dictates that it gets treated as a minor chord and this is reinforced by the fact that it is nearly always used as a passing chord linking a minor chord to a minor 7th:


4 Am |AminMaj7 |Amin7 | Amin6 :||

E ---5-------5----------5----------5-------------
B ---5-------5----------5----------5-------------
G ---5-------5----------5----------5-------------
D ---7-------6----------5----------4-------------
A ---7-------7----------7----------x-------------
E ---5-------5----------5----------5-------------

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