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24 Voicings for Any 4-note Seventh Chord

For players who are already familiar with four-note chords: 1,3,5,7. Whether it's through harmonizing a scale in 4 parts and/or understanding the functions of the different types of chords...i.e. Major7 (1,3,5,7); Dominant7 (1,3,5,b7); minor7(1,b3,5,b7); minor7b5(1,b3,b5,b7). These are the 3 types found when harmonizing a major scale  in tertiary harmony (3rds). We can also find other variations of 4-note seventh chords from other harmonizations. These would include Major7#5, Major7b5, minor/major7, dominant7b5, etc.

- My aim here is to explore a finite number of permutations and voicings concerning Seventh Chords which contain a Root, third, fifth, & seventh. Using the basic formula: 1x2x3x4=24. We will organize these into four groups of six chords.

Lowest to highest note are read from left to right for each chord.

Root In Bass       Third In Bass              Fifth In Bass                Seventh In Bass

1 3 5 7                3 1 5 7                       5 1 3 7                         7 1 3 5     

1 3 7 5                3 1 7 5                       5 1 7 3                         7 1 5 3

1 5 3 7                3 5 1 7                       5 3 1 7                         7 3 1 5

1 5 7 3                3 5 7 1                       5 3 7 1                         7 3 5 1

1 7 3 5                3 7 1 5                       5 7 1 3                         7 5 1 3

1 7 5 3                3 7 5 1                       5 7 3 1                         7 5 3 1

Not all of these voicings will be possible to play on guitar, but it is still good to know where the chord tones are positioned.

A good way to work with these chords is to pick a single voicing and run it through the harmonized major scale, harmonic minor, ascending melodic minor aka Jazz Minor scale.

Let's look at a quick example.... take the second voicing from the first column 1 3 7 5 in F major.

 F A E C = F major7 which could be played on strings 6(1st fret), 5(open), 4(2nd fret) & 2(1st fret) = F A E C. Continuing up the

scale degrees on these strings....

We get: F A E C,  G Bb F D,  A C G E,  Bb D A F,  C E Bb G,  D F C A,  E G D Bb,  F A E C.  Now we have F major harmonized chord scale. Fmaj7 Gmin7 Amin7 Bbmaj7 C7 Dmin7 Emin7b5 Fmaj7. 

Try this in all keys, taking it through the cycle of 5ths/4ths. For variation you don't have to play chord scales by order of steps -    


Try it in

Cycle 3: I  III  V  VII  II  IV  VI  VIII(I)  

Cycle 4:  I  IV  VII  III  VI  II  V  VIII(I) 

Cycle 5:  I  V  II  VI  III  VII  IV VIII(I)  

Cycle 6:  I  VI  IV  II  VII  V  III  VIII(I)  

Cycle 7:  I  VII  VI  V  IV  III  II  VIII(I)

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@pauljones   2 years ago
Great lesson! 
@glennthompson   2 years ago
@pauljones -Thanks for checking it out Paul. I'm glad someone got something out of it!
Sorry for such a late response btw.

I really would love to post regular lessons, but that will have to wait until I have some music transcription software; preferably with tabs for the non-readers. Been playing and teaching for 40+ years and would like to pass on any lessons which may be helpful. Ciao- Glenn
@pauljones   2 years ago
I'd love to see more of these lessons! I've been practicing the permutations from this lesson and they've really have contributed to the improvement of my playing, thanks! :)
@glennthompson   2 years ago
Hi Paul, it's great to know you're working on these permutations. I would really like to write as many lessons as possible. The biggest thing holding me back is the lack of software for writing music notation. I'll probably need something that can also handle TAB, since many guitarists rely on it. I'm not familiar with notation software, although I've heard of Sibileus and Finale. Any suggestions are welcomed! In the meantime I'll figure out something that I can write without notation software. Thanks again. Best regards -Glenn