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How to Play Dominant 7th Chords

Learn how to play dominant 7th chords in this keyboard tutorial from Howcast.


Hi, this is Stephanie, from Tomato's House of Rock, and I am going to show you how to play dominant 7 chord. Like pretty much everything else; especially with the piano and scales, there is a formula and once you know the formula you can basically play a dominant 7 chord anywhere on the keyboard. So what we are looking for is a dominant 7 chord always has a major 3 in it, so you just have your regular major triad. If you were to start in the keys of C, I'd have C, E, G, just a simple C major cord.

The interesting part is when we add the 7, the way to find the 7 is to actually go up to the C above it, and then you are going to go a whole step down. So, if you guys can see on the keyboard B, where actually the very next direct note down which will only be a half step, we need to go a full whole step down. And that's actually where it gets its name the dominant 7th from. Because if you would just a straight up pure major 7, we would have that sound. So to make it dominant we have to flat the 7; which again you can always just find a whole step down from your root note so here is the sound of dominant 7 chord in root position, there it is all at once, C, E, G, B flat which we can also call 1, 3, 5, 7.

So lets just try the formula, and see what it looks like, lets try an A. So first rule is that I need an A major triad. OK, so there is my A major, nice and simple and now am going to find the 7th again by going up to the next highest A and down a whole step; so skip that until you get full whole step there. We put a G on top, so there it i;s our dominant 7 sound. So once you got that formula down its really worth it to become really comfortable with knowing the notes that makes up this chord. So if you go back to our C down at 7 I can see I have got a C, E and G; and also the B flat; because once we know the make up of the chord we can start moving around and change the order. Which really comes in handy if you are moving through chords really quickly or maybe when the chord sounds like I was to play a C 7 down here.

It's really muddy, even if I come up here, its not bad, it's still a little bit darker than I wanted it to be. So I don't have to necessarily go all the way up here because I may get in the way of the soloing. So what you can do is let's say lets just start on the 3rd note up, so I'm just going to basically take the C and put it on top. So now I have got the E, the G, the B flat the C, which can also be called the third the fifth the seventh and now the one is on top. And its a really great sounds for blues and funk; whenever you have a 7th chord or even a triad, when the roots on top its really a nice sound here you can hear on the right hand too... It just really helps you to let you know what the chord is when you hear the one on top like that. It also happens to be much more comfortable position if you got the 3 on the bottom, you don't have to stretch so far and you can keep taking this concept, you can keep just going up all the notes in the dominant. So maybe now I will start on the G so I will have G, B flat D and E which would be our 5, 7, 1, and now the 3 is on top; which is a different sound. It can come in handy as to what chord you are going to next. That's how you play a dominant 7th chord.

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