Diatonic 7th Chords

You’ll learn how to form the major scale and diatonic chords, then quiz yourself to see how well you know what you’ve learned!

Hey guys, Willie Myette, creator of jazz edge. Welcome to the confident improviser podcast. This is episode number 17. So today what we’re going to be talking about is diatonic seventh chords, you’re going to quiz yourself, see how well you know your major scale and your diatonic chords. As a reminder, this podcast goes along with the confident improviser improvisation program, which has found a jazz edge if you’ve never, you know, improvise before you’ve always wanted to learn how to improvise. Or maybe you just want to get better at improvisation, the confident improviser is an incredible program for you to check out at jazz edge.com you can also go back to the confident improviser.com to get more information and then also get some replays of the podcast. So again, diatonic seventh chords, let’s dig right in. The first question is, why do we learn the diatonic chord sequence and there’s a couple of reasons that I’d like to share with you. Number one, it makes analysis much easier, which then in turn, makes memorization so much easier. So if you don’t know your diatonic chords, it’s going to be almost impossible for you to be able to analyze. And if you don’t know how to analyze, then it’s going to be very, very difficult for you to be able to memorize chords and progressions, because the best way of memorizing progressions is through an analysis approach. The other reason that it’s important is that it’s great for composition, which I’ll kind of show you in a little bit some different ways in which you can use these diatonic chords for composition. It also helps you to become a quote next chord wizard, because when you understand your diatonic chords, you start to have a better sense of what chord will come next in a, you know, in a song, especially, if you’re doing more like rock pop, kind of tunes, jazz tunes can get a little bit more complicated because you move into different key centers. But you know, the more simplistic the harmony is, the easier it is for you to be able to kind of see where it’s going to be going, utilizing your diatonic chords and diatonic harmony. And finally, it’s also an important way to see those key centers and to improve your improvisation. Alright, so let’s dig right in. First of all, diatonic basically means everything within the routes. So if we have C to C, we have our major scale, it means everything between the routes, all right, which is basically a fancy way of saying it’s the C major scale. So when we say is something diatonic to the key of C. Another way of saying that is, are the notes found in the C major scale? So again, the notes of the C major scale are C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. So if I said to you is F sharp diatonic to the key of C, you would say? No, it’s not, of course not. It is a black note. And then the C major scale is all white notes. So that’s a in the key of C, it’s kind of real, real simple. If it’s a white note, then it’s in the key of C, if it’s a black note, then it’s outside of the key of C. Alright, so is the note C diatonic to the C major scale, of course, it’s diatonic. And now you’ll also notice that I’m going to utilize the term C major scale and key of C, interchangeably. That’s because when we’re talking about is something in a key, we’re really also saying is that found in the major scale, right? So if I said, Let’s take the key of G for for a minute, right? So we have G, A, B, C, D, E, F sharp G, right? That’s the key of G. So now, if I said, is the note D diatonic to the key of G? Well, yes, it is. It’s the fifth. What about the note F sharp? Yes, it’s the seventh. What about the note G? Yes, it’s the root. Okay. So if the note is found within the scale, then it is diatonic to that key, or to that scale. So in other words, with our C major scale, we have C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, any of those notes, if I said any of those notes, as C is D is E, F g A or B diatonic to the key of C, our answer would be yes. Okay. That would be diatonic. If I said C sharp, or a D sharp or F sharp or a flat or B flat, G sharp, none of those notes would be diatonic to the key of C. Alright, so hopefully, that explains it a little bit better. Now one thing you want to do is you also want to number the notes of the scale. And if you happen to be watching the video of this, which you can get back at jazz edge comm it will be found right in the confident improviser course. But anyway, what you see on the screen, and a

For those of you that are just listening, I am just numbering the notes of the scale. So again, we have C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, and all I’m doing is numbering them 1234567. And it’s really one, I put eight, just so you know, it’s the eighth note of the scale, but really, we’re going back to one, right, so it’s really, we don’t use eight, we will just call that one again. All right. So now we’re going to do is we’re going to build diatonic seventh chords on each note of the scale. So here’s the trick, you’re going to build a seventh chord, right, which is a four note chord on each note of that C major scale, okay, so that means I’m going to build a seventh chord on a note C, on a, no D on a note, E, F, G, A and B. Okay. And then when building that seventh chord, and the easier way of thinking about is just simply skipping, skipping, skipping a note from the scale. So I start with C, I skip over D, I go to E, I skip over F, I go to G, I skip over a, I go to B. So my first chord is C, E, G, B, which is a C major seven chord. Now another way of looking at it is, I am going to build seventh chords on each note of the scale, utilizing only notes from the scale. So again, we start in the key of C, because it’s a lot easier to visualize this in the key of C, it’s all white notes. So this means that all of my diatonic chords are going to have only white notes in them. If I play like say, the D chord, and I’m playing an F sharp up here, that’s not diatonic to the key of C that is now non diatonic, right. So what I’m going to do is I’m literally going to go up each note of the scale, and I’m going to play chords, beginning on each note of the scale. And if you see what I’m doing here, okay, or if you couldn’t see it, you’ll notice that I’m playing just white notes. Starting on each note of the scale, I’m just gonna quickly tell you what the chords are and what the notes are. So C major seven, C, E, G, B, D, minor, seven, D, F, AC, E, minor, seven, E, G, B, D, F, major seven, F, AC, E, G, seven, or G dominant, seven, G, B, D, F, A minor, seventh, AC, E, G, B, minor, seven, flat five, B, D, F, A. Alright, back to C major seven. Okay, so those are our diatonic chords in the key of C. Now, the next thing that we do is we apply Roman numerals to these diatonic chords. I’ve gotten complaints actually, in the past, from students, why are you using new roman numerals? It’s so old fashioned. All right, well, I didn’t come up with this. This isn’t, you know, my reasoning behind this. It’s just something that has been done for literally decades utilizing these Roman numerals for analysis. Okay. And there’s a good reason why. And what you’ll notice is that you can have an uppercase and a lowercase in the Roman numeral. So when you have a major chord or a dominant chord, you could use an uppercase to signify that it’s a major third in there. When you have a minor third in there, you can use lowercase, which signifies that it is a minor sounding chord. Alright, so we have one major seventh C major seven, to minor seventh, D minor, seven, three, minor seven, E minor, seventh, for major seven, F major seven, five, dominant seven, g seven, six, minor seven, a minor, seven, seven, minor seven, flat five, and that’s B minor seven, flat five. Some people like to call this half diminished, I suggest you consider it minor seven, flat five versus half diminished. There are many reasons for that I’m not going to get into right now, but let’s just say that you can get into some technical theory issues down the road. If you think of it as a diminished chord, it is not a diminished chord. It is a minor seven flat five chord. Okay, so now, the cool thing about these chords is that they, this pattern remains the same in all 12 keys. So what you’ll notice is you have the one chord and the four chord are both major seventh, there’s only one dominant chord in the key and that’s the five, seven chord, the two, the three and the six are minor. And then the seventh chord is a minor seven with a flatted fifth. So let’s for fun move to the key of F. So in the key of F, the F major scale is F, G, A, B flat, C, D, E, F, so that one major seventh would be F major seven, for major seventh is what? B flat major seven. What about three minor seven, a minor, two minor, G minor.

What about five, seven? Let’s see Seven, six minor. Well, that would be D minor, right?

So those are diatonic chords in the key of F, well, what’s your seven minor seven, flat five in the key of F, give you a second to think about it, that would be E minor seven, flat five. Let’s try another one. Let’s try the key of G. So first of all, I’m going to give you a second, if you want to pause, you want to spell the G major scale. So what are the notes of the G major scale, that would be G, A, B, C, D, E, F sharp, G. And if you happen to be watching, you notice that the virtual keyboard says G flat, I have it all set all flat, since we move around different keys. So you know though that should be an F sharp versus a G flat. Alright, so that’s the notes of the G major scale. Well, now let’s go through the G G, diatonic chords, right. So the G major diatonic seventh chords, one major is G major, seven, two minor is a minor seven, three minor is the minor seven, four major is C major seven, five dominant, seventh is d Seven, six minor is a minor, seven, seven, minor seven, flat five is F sharp, minor seven, flat five. And then finally, we go back to G major. Now, if this is moving too quickly for you, I completely understand it can get confusing. You can go back, you can rewind, you can listen to it. Again, if you’re listening on a podcast app, it might even be good. If you slow me down a little bit, most of the apps you could slow down, you know, by 75, or 50%, might make it a little bit easier for you. Let’s go through a couple more just to make sure that you kind of understand how to form the major scale, what the notes in the major scale are, and then also what the diatonic seventh chords are, okay. Now, just real quickly, in case you did not already know, I will give you the pattern for the major scale, so that you could do it away from the piano. So let’s do the key of D, we start on D. And then we always start in a note, we haven’t done anything yet. So we’re starting on D Now we go up a whole step to eat up a whole step to F sharp, up a half step to G up a whole step to a up a whole step to be up a whole step to C sharp and up a half step to D. So the pattern is start on a note, then go whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole half. So two whole steps, a half step, three whole steps, a half step, that is your major scale pattern, right. But be sure to start on a note first, a lot of times students will start on a note D and be like, Oh, I went a whole step. Well, no, you haven’t gone anywhere yet. Right? You just started on D, you have to go up to E for your first whole step. So the notes of the D major scale D, E, F sharp, G, A, B, C sharp, D, I’m going to give you one more real good trick to know as well. Let’s say I start on D and I don’t know if it should be sharps or flats. Well guess what you need to use each letter name in order and you cannot repeat a letter name makes it super simple to know if you should be playing sharps or flats. So b D, E, well now you know it has to be F sharp, because it can’t be G flat because I would have skipped over F right. Now what if I did d E, G flat g? Well, that still wouldn’t work either because I just repeated the letter name g twice. Okay, so you see how I can’t repeat it twice. And I have to go in order. So it has to be some kind of D, some kind of E some kind of F Alright, so it’s obviously an F sharp. And then as soon as you have sharps or flats, you don’t mix them in your major scales, okay, in other scales you do. But in your major scales, you do not mix sharps and flats. So as soon as you get to F sharp there, then you know up here, that’s going to be C sharp. So the notes of the D major scale are D, E, F sharp, G, A, B, C sharp, D. Now see if you can go through, I’m going to quiz you, and I’m going to say like 1234567 chord, right? You tell me what the chord is, before I play it. Alright, so one major seventh, that’s easy. D Major 757.

A seven,

seven minor seven, flat five, give you a second. That C sharp minor seven, flat five, two minor. That’s a minor seven. For major. That’s G major, seven, three minor. That’s F sharp minor. And finally six minor.

B minor. Okay, so we did that all in the key of D in case you were, you know, confused there. That’s all in the key of D. Don’t worry, we’re going to do an A one more key now, right? Just to make sure you really lock this in. Let’s move on to the key of let’s do B flat. All right, so we’re going to start on B flat. Now. Guess

What, since we already have B flat, we know that all the nodes are going to be flats, there’s not going to be any sharps in this because we can’t mix flats and sharps. Now we start with B flat, we go up a whole step to C, whole step D has step two E flat, whole step, whole step two g, whole step two, and a half set to before. So my notes are my B flat major scale, or B flat, C, D, E flat, F, G, A, B flat. Now you want to do yourself a favor and really start to understand your theory better and really start to master your theory. Practice your major scales away from the piano, you should be able to spell them incredibly fast. G major G, A, B, C, D, E, F, sharp, G, F, Major, F, G, A, B, flat, C, D, E, F, C, Major, C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, right, you should be able to bet that bam, go through and spell those scales super fast. The faster you can spell them, the better. It takes time. Be patient with yourself, you’ll get there. Alright, so, B flat, C, D, E flat, F, G, A, B flat, there’s my B flat major scale. Let’s go ahead and quiz some of our diatonic chords. What’s two minor?

C minor seven? What’s five, seven?

f seven. What’s six minor? G minor? What’s three minor? d?

What’s seven, minor seven, flat five, a minor seven, flat five?

What’s three minor? D minor, four major, E flat major.

One major, B flat major seven. Okay, so now as promised, let’s talk about why we analyze and how we can use that analysis. All right, let’s take something very simple. Let’s take this.

You’ve heard that progression before, you’ve probably mostly heard it in triads.

This time, I’m adding in the seventh chords, making it maybe sound a little bit jazzy. Right?

So the progression I’m playing is a 164.

So now in the key of C, what is 1645? Now if you’re listening to this away from the piano, that is a fantastic way of looking at this stuff. Because now you have to visualize that major scale, you got to think about what’s 164 and five, and you have to think about what is the quality of those chords, right? So we know that one and four is major, two, three, and six is minor. Five is seven, and seven is minor, seven, flat five. So one is C major seven, six is a minor seven, four is F major seven, and five is g7. Right? So I’m playing this song around, maybe I’m gonna do

sounds nice. All I’m doing is just arpeggiated those major seventh and minor seventh chords, so seventh chords, and just starting from the top,

coming right on down. So I just have myself a little progression there and kind of made up this little tune. Alright, now I’m going to bring it to the band, and I’m going to, you know, bring it to the singer and the singer is going to tell me, I can’t do this in the key of C, it’s way too, you know, way too low for me, I need to move it to the key of F. Oh, my goodness gracious. Now you’re thinking to yourself, how am I going to transpose this? So quickly into the key of F? Well, guess what, if you know your diatonic seventh chords, and you understand the analysis that we’ve gone through here, it should be relatively easy for you to build it to move it into the key of F. So let’s go through that real quickly. Right now, first of all, start with the F major scale, spell it before I get to it, what is it,

G A, B flat, C, D, E, right does the notes of your F major scale, let’s just start by just saying that the roots of 1645 the root would be F, then the six is what D, the four is what? B flat five is what C Now we know the quality of the chords is what major than minor than major than dominant. So F major seven, down to D minor seven, down to B flat major seven, then up to C dominant seven

to the arpeggiating.

So, hopefully you can kind of see, we’re scratching the surface here, you can understand how, when you start to understand your diatonic seventh chords, now it becomes so much easier to analyze the progression, and then be able to move that progression into other keys. Let’s say that I want to try writing my own songs. All right, well, here’s the deal. Let’s talk about the movement of chords and how they move. First of all, the one chord is typically your ending chord, right, your resting chord, that’s the like that where you might start the song, which, where you might end the song, the most unstable chord in this progression is the five seven chord, the five chord almost always wants to resolve you back to the one chord, it doesn’t have to, though, you can resolve from five down to four or five up to six. But if you’re looking for, hey, look, I’ve been moving through a bunch of different chords. And now I want to get back to the one chord while the five chord is your candidate, right, play that five chord, and it will easily lead you right back to the one chord. Let’s just try those two chords right now. So I’m just going to play the chord here in the right hand, I’m just playing octaves in the left hand. So I have a C major seventh one, major seven, and then down to five, seven, and then back to one.

And then what I could do is I could also use inversions.

Now I have some other chords in here, I have two minor, I have three minor, right.

So a lot of times what sounds good is to go from the two, four.

If you’re in kind of a jazz sensibility, you could go to the five chord, and instead of one, so that two to the five to the one is a very, very powerful progression and very, very common in jazz, another progression that’s that that’s really common, it’s just walking out one major to two minor, two, minor, two minor, then back to one major, or you could keep going one major, minor, minor, to four major to minor, two, minor, to 572.

You can also move around, and then go from those different minor chords that go from D minor, then the two minor, then maybe go to a minor, then maybe go to E minor, right, so you can play around with

when you go down to a minor,

E minor,

a minor.

Now moving from the E minor, back to the to the one chord, not not super strong. So maybe I would go one major, a minor, six minor, then minor, then five dominant seven, back to one, B, C major to a minor, to D minor, to g7, or another way of looking at it as one major to six minor to two

to five.

super common. Now what was the progression that we just did earlier? One major to six minor to four major to five, seven, right? I could change that as well I can kind of replace that four major chord with a two minor. So I could go one major, six minor, to do minor 257. Right, we did that. And then rather than going back to one, let me go back up to six minor, then maybe three minor, four major,

five, seven,

back to one.

Now check this out. I’m just going to create a progression here so 1663456 just repeating it now.

Now you can see that I got the workings right there have a pretty nice too. Let’s say that I say okay, I’m not going to bother to do the diatonic seventh chords, I’m going to move to triads. All you do is just take that top note off. So rather than playing C major seventh with the top note of B i just play

C major triad, D minor triad, E minor triad, F major triad, G major triad, a minor triad, B diminished triad, so I do have the diminished there. And then C major triad right. Those are my diatonic triads, guess what do the same progression

a minor, F major,

a minor,

six minor, or major by

never heard this progression

a minor.

What’s the progression? See?

Give me the analysis.

Analysis 146165 to E flat, one,

six, by


Now, you could see like, I’m just playing around, they’re just moving between chords. And oh, lo and behold, I got myself a composition, you know, I got a composition work. And right there, I add some melody on to that or some lyrics. And now I got myself a song. So one thing that is great to do is take pop tunes and see if you can analyze them using those diatonic seventh chords, some great tunes to take a look at some of the easier Beatles tunes. You know, take a look at those. Take a look at, you know what I mean? Whatever song you like, like you can take a look at literally any pop tune, you know, and just kind of see if you could figure out what the diatonic seventh chords are. Now, we don’t just use diatonic seventh chords for our composition because if we did, well, we only got seven chords available there, right and the key, we do utilize other chords and what we would do is we will borrow chords from other keys. That’s a whole separate discussion, but know that you know, like, you’re not gonna be able to analyze everything utilizing your diatonic seventh chords, but you have to get a firm understanding of diatonic seventh chords, before you can start to move on to some of these other analysis ideas. Alright. Okay, so now as usual, if you have questions on this, and if you are a confident improviser, or jazz edge member, please do join me on Thursdays because I will be happy to answer those questions for you. All right. So Thursdays at one o’clock is when I do my live q&a sessions for the confident improviser. So do join in and I will be happy to answer questions. All right. So that’s it for me. Thanks, guys for listening. I’ll see you guys in the next episode.

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Willie Myette

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