7th Chords Guide Part 2

7th chord tutorialWelcome to our second free piano tutorial on 7th chords!

In today’s piano chord lesson we’re going to continue our exploration of basic 7th chords.

If you’ve always wondered how to play minor major 7th chords, fully diminished seventh chords, or minor 7th flat 5 chords this will be the lesson for you!

(Youtube video lesson, notation, and tips below.)

If you missed the first lesson in this series I encourage you to also check out the how to play 7th chords Part 1 lesson.

Who Is This Piano Chord Tutorial For?

This tutorial should help a lot of the people who visit this site and want to learn more about some of the basic 7th chords you’ll see in a chord chart.

As I mentioned in the previous article we’ve done a lot of intermediate lessons on this site up to this point.

I feel it’s vital to help people learn how to play jazz no matter what level they are in their musical journey.

If you’re more of a multi media learner though (like myself) I would definitely watch the video first.

Then, print out the notation, and read all the additional tips below.

7th-piano-chords

(click to expand)

How To Play Minor Major 7th Piano Chords

1. The first chord you see in the video is the minor major 7th chord. (It’s one of my favorites!)

2. In order to help you build a minor major seventh chord you should begin by playing a basic minor chord.

(For C minor these notes would be C-Eb-G. In D minor the notes would be D-F-A)

3. Your next step is to find the bass note (or the root of the chord)  and double it an octave higher. 

(For C minor the notes would C-Eb-G-C with the 2 C’s being played one octave apart from each other.)

4. Your last step is to bring the high note you just doubled (your doubled root) down 1 half step. So, now your notes for a Cmin(maj7) chord would C-Eb-G-B.

(Reminder: You can watch the video above or take a look at the chord chart to see and hear this in action.)

Thoughts on Practicing The Minor Major 7th

5. You can use these same simple steps and build a minor major seventh chord in any of the 12 keys. It’s not complicated at all!

6. I recommend you practice this chord voicing in all 12 keys and get very comfortable with them. They sound fantastic and they’re used all the time in music!

7. If you want to learn more about this chord and  other minor chords I highly recommend you check out this minor jazz piano chord tutorial as well.

How To Play Minor 7 flat 5 Chords

1. The second chord we’re now going to learn is the minor 7th flat 5 chord.

2. This chord  is definitely in the top 5 of most common chords you’ll see in a jazz tune. So, you’ve got to learn it! :)

3. To build the chord first start with a basic minor chord and flat the fifth by a half step. (So, move the top note of the chord down 1 half step).

4. From there you’ll double the root of the chord up an octave. So, if you’re in the key of C the notes will now be C-Eb-Gb-Bb.

5. From there move your highest note down 1 whole step. This will get you a minor 7(b5) chord.

6. In classical theory books they usually call this a half diminished seventh chord.

Minor 7(b5) and half diminished seventh are the same thing though! Different words for the same chords sound :)

7. If you want to learn some more advanced voicings for the minor 7(b5) chord you can check out this free minor 7 flat 5 chord tutorial.

How To Play Diminished Seventh Chords

1. The final seventh chord we’re going to look at is the diminished 7th chord.

I like to call this the “railroad track chord.” (Watch the video above for the explanation of this term.)

2. To help you build and play the diminished seventh chord we’re going to start with just a simple minor triad again. So, in  C the notes would be C-Eb-G.

3. Once we have our minor triad we’re going to flat the 5th now (move the top note down a half step.) This will give us the notes C-Eb-Gb.

This is just a simple diminished triad.

4. Our next step is to double the root of our chord up an octave. So, now our notes would be C-Eb-Gb-C.

5. Our last step is to now move that double root down a minor third. You could also think of this as moving down 3 half steps. Our final notes will be C-Eb-Gb-A.

5. Technically, the last note should be called B double flat to make sure every note is thought of as a 3rd away from each other.

Don’t worry too much about that though. I think it’s easier for students to just think of as A. They’re the same thing! :)

More Thoughts On The Diminished 7th Chord

7. Even though this chord is super common I see many students fumbling when they see a diminished seventh in a chord chart.

Don’t let that be you! Learn it well and learn it in all 12 keys.

I use this chord all the time for substitutions. You can watch me use it in this Misty Piano Tutorial.

More Jazz Piano Tutorials To Learn From

Chords are awesome but so are great licks! So, here’s a link to a bunch of free jazz licks you can learn from.

You can also check out this beginners guide to how to practice jazz or this article on switching to jazz for the classical pianist.

(intro photo courtesy of  rzrxtion on Flickr)

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Steve Nixon is the proud owner of Freejazzlessons.com. He is a world touring jazz and blues keyboard player and educator.

Steve is the author of Premium Jazz Lessons Elite Membership (A comprehensive all-in-one online jazz piano course.)

He is also the author of the The Jazz Masters Method DVD (A study of 9 legendary jazz piano players).

If you are a blues piano fan you can also check out his popular Learn Blues Piano DVD Course.


  • D2thweb

    Thank you. Simple, instructive and fun – Luv the railroad application! Don’t know how you continue to do this nbut I’m grateful and hooked………Lucien

    • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      Absolutely my pleasure!

  • Mr_fire_and_ice

    Hey Steve, May I suggest a lesson you might post?  I discovered something for putting together jazz ballads.  Something for the left hand.  You have your basic rootless 3rd and 7th chord to play and perhaps during the B section or whever you like you can play an arpeggio of    root, 5th and 10th of a chord.  Thanks Steve.  Your the best :)