Major 7 Chords On Piano

Let’s Create Some Richness With Major 7 Chords

Major 7 chords tutorialMajor 7 chords can really turn a simple major triad into something that sounds super rich. It has substance. We are going to take a shortcut approach to learning how to play Major 7 chords.

Why do we call them “Major seven” chords? That’s pretty easy to illustrate. Let’s take a quick look at a Major scale, like the C Major scale:

The C Major Scale - major 7 chord tutorial

Notice that the 7th note (or 7th degree) of the C Major scale is B. So, when we create Major 7 chords, we will be adding the 7th degree of that scale to the Major triad.

The 7th degree of the scale, as you can see above is just one half step lower than the C:

C Major Scale showing the 7th degree for major 7 chords

Well, since the piano keyboard is symmetrical and repeating, we also have a B one octave lower:

Major 7 chord being created

For The Sake Of Simplicity

While playing the Major triad, It’s actually a bit easier to picture this B for someone in the early stages of learning these chords, so we will take that approach:

C Major 7th chord illustrated

Project “Major 7” Accomplished!

Once you add this 7th degree of the scale – which is exactly one half step lower than the name of the chord or scale – to a Major triad of the same name (C), you have a Major 7 chord!

The chord is a C Major 7 chord no matter where that B is positioned. However, since we are focusing on learning to play these chords in root position, we are going to actually play the higher B:

Cmaj7 chord

The above video is an excerpt from
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The Major 7 Chord In Context

Here is an example of a C Major 7 chord used in the context of a tiny segment of The Way You Look Tonight by Jerome Kern & Dorothy Fields (notice the chord symbols):

excerpt of The Way You Look tonight showing chord symbols

Note that CM7 has an upper case “M” since we don’t want to confuse it with a minor type chord.

As mentioned in the short video above, make it a point to play these chords with both hands and have fun with them. Play them as arpeggios. Also, hold the chord down with one hand while the other plays the notes one at a time freely. Be creative!

Fingering A Major 7 Chord

When fingering these chords in root position, you will play with all fingers except your ring (or fourth) finger. This fingering works for all root position 7th chords:

Maj7-chord-fingerings

You’re doing great! It will be of tremendous benefit for you to play these chords on all these roots:

C    F    Bb    Eb    Ab    Db    Gb    B    E    A    D    G  

Enjoy the process. You’re becoming a piano chord master!

Next, we will explore those dominant 7 chords…