Let’s learn how to form a C7 chord on piano. Common names for this chord are C7, C dominant 7 and C dom7. A 7th chord consists of a triad plus a note forming an interval of a 7th above the root of the chord.
The notes of the C major scale are C D E F G A B C. To form a C dom7 chord, combine the first, third, fifth and flat seventh note of the C major scale. (1 – 3 – 5 – 7b). These are the root, major 3rd, perfect 5th and minor 7th of the scale. The notes used in a C7 chord are C E G and Bb. Note carefully that the 7th note is lowered by a semitone. Instead of playing B, you play B flat.
When you play a dominant seventh chord, usually the next chord played is a perfect 4th above that dominant seventh chord. 7th chords want to move up a perfect fourth. So the next likely chord played after C7 is F, a perfect fourth above C.
Let’s look more closely at this chord, in terms of music intervals. The C7 chord is made up of a major third and two minor thirds on top of each other. C to E is a major third (consisting of 2 tones). E to G is a minor third interval (consisting of 1 1/2 tones). And G to Bb is another minor third interval (consisting of one and a half tones).
In root position, the notes of the C seventh chord are in the order, C – E – G- Bb. If we move the C note up one octave, the sequence of pitches is now E-G-Bb-C. This is an alternate inversion (or voicing) of the same chord and is known as the first inversion of the Cdom7 chord. If we now move the note, E an octave higher the sequence of pitches is now G-Bb-C-E. This is the second inversion of the C7 chord. Lastly let’s move the G note an octave higher. This gives us the third inversion of the C seventh chord and the notes are in the order Bb-C-E-G. In each voicing the same notes are present but the sequence of notes changes.
The chord diagram above shows you the notes of the C dominant seventh chord in root position and all possible inversions.
You can learn how to build all kinds of chords on the main piano chords page. Return from C7 Chord to main Piano Chords page. You can learn how to form major, minor, 6th, 7th, diminished, even various kinds of 11th and 13th chords and a whole lot more. Diagrams are also included so you get a clear picture of the notes of the chords in their different inversions.
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