where to use maj 7 chords? and diminished?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Guitartom_ca, Mar 27, 2010.

  1. Chris S.

    Chris S. Asst. Admin

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    Thread hijack, my apologies

    I spent a couple of years playing with Jimmy when I lived in Austin back in the early 80s. He was just amazing, and we had a ball playing together. I still consider it one of the highlights of my musical life. :cool:

    We now return you to our regularly scheduled major 7th and diminished chords... :oops: CS
     
  2. Leon Grizzard

    Leon Grizzard Friend of Leo's

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    Good point. A nice color chord is a great way to end a song. Along with Maj7, the 6th chord, and the 6/9.
     
  3. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    Good examples to illustrate usage given here. Yeah, there's probably more widespread useage within jazz, R&B, jump swing, stuff like that, but there's plenty within pop and rock as well.

    As has been noted, major seventh chords are often used in passing within pop tunes. A great line cliche is I - Imaj7 - I7. Examples include Bob Dylan's "Simple Twist of Fate" (key of E), Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song" (key of G), and The Beatles' "Hey Jude" (key of F).

    John Lennon's piano intro on "Imagine" contains a C triad with a quick Cmaj7 before transitioning to the F triad inversion. I haven't listened to Neil Young's original recording of "Down by the River" in forever, but I cover it all the time. The pre chorus for that tune contains a Cmaj7 (or at least that's the way I want to hear it) going to a Bm or B-7 before chomping down hardcore into the refrain. I like playing that C chord with a big pronounced backwards rake with this voicing:

    --0-
    --0-
    --0-
    -10-
    -10-
    --8-

    Lots of tunes feature two chord Dorian vamps (Allman Brothers' "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed", The Temptations' "Smiling Faces Sometimes" [B. Strong/N.Whitfield], Miles Davis' "So What", etc.). Utilizing a "major seventh" chord is basically just another way of emphasing the 9 interval over the base minor tonality.

    For instance, when I covered "Smiling Faces" at last night's gig, at one point I played:

    -9--9--9--9-
    -7--9-10--9-
    -7--9-11--9-
    -7--9-12--9-
    -X--X-X---X-
    -X--X-X---X-

    Quite the stock move, really. Looks like B-9 - C#-7 - Dmaj7 - C#-7... and it is. But it's mostly just a B-7 to C#-7 Dorian vamp with a common tone on top and some additional color.

    ________________________________________________


    Before I ever started playing standards, my first revelation with diminished chords was along the lines of what Leon mentioned - using diminished up a half step from IV7 in bar #6 of a twelve bar, or in bar #4 of an eight bar.

    If you look at "b5 subs" within 'quick change' blues (Robert Johnson's "Phonograph Blues", Johnny Winter's "Mean Mistreater", etc.), the IV chord is pretty much behaving as a diminished chord.

    Again though, there's lots of diminished chord useage within pop tunes, and sometimes not just as passing chords. "Amoreena" by Elton John, "Ship of Fools" by The Grateful Dead (and check out Elvis Costello's cover of that song). George Harrison was rather fond of the diminished chord within his song writing.
     
  4. Oldgitplayer

    Oldgitplayer Tele-Holic

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    Yep, the diminished chord features a fair bit in George's post-Beatles work.
    But also at the beginning of the Beatles recording career, the diminished and the augmented featured strongly in their songwriting.
    Similarly with other songs coming out of Liverpool like Gerry Marsden's.

    In fact, when the whole Liverpool energy burst onto the music scene in 1963, it was referred to as the 'Mersey sound'. And it did sound different to me.
    When I started working out the songs, I heard these unfamiliar chords, and in searching through my book of 500 chords, found shapes to match what I was hearing.
    Voila - diminished and augmented chords.
     
  5. RCinMempho

    RCinMempho Friend of Leo's

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    Speaking of endings, no one has mentioned the old maj7 up a half-step ending.

    If the melody ends on the root note of the key, end the song with a maj7 chord one half step up. This leaves the melody note singing the major 7th.

    i.e. End a song in C with the last note being C by playing a C#maj7.

    Talk about "Schmaltzy"!
     
  6. dburns

    dburns Friend of Leo's

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    Cool way to voice that progression. That EbMaj7 6x574x is the 2nd string root Maj7 I was talking about, though I usually play it with the Bb note on the high E = xx5746. Since reading your post I've been playing this chord 'your way' (w/the 5th in the bass) all day.

    Thanks for sharing.
     
  7. Mid Life Crisis

    Mid Life Crisis Friend of Leo's

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    Maj7 chords can work well in rock music too. Some of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers songs feature them, e.g. in Don't Stop where the chords go Em D Bm CMaj7, in Under The Bridge where it rests on that EMaj7 chord at the end of the verse, or in Californication - Am - FMaj7.

    Then you've got Like A Hurricane going Am G FMaj7 Em G.

    Maj7ths work well as the bVI chord where the i is a minor.
     
  8. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I play it either way. But I'm a livingroom player: if a bassist showed up, I'd be more likely to lay off the notes on the 6th string :lol:

    I'm also lazy enough to use all the open strings that come my way, for example:

    CMaj7: xx5500
    C#min7 (E6): xx6600
    Emin7 (G6): xx[12][12]00

    I like playing harmonics for those last two notes on the 12th fret.
     
  9. Ash Telecaster

    Ash Telecaster Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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  10. davidge1

    davidge1 Friend of Leo's

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    Leon (or anyone else), are you familiar with the "Hank Thompson ending", where, at the end of a slow song, the band will play something like I / I#6 / Imaj7? I'm not actually sure that chord in the middle is a I#6, or how this makes any musical sense, but it sounds cool... I've gotten bands I've played in to use that to end slow songs.

    Some cool, funky (not schmaltzy) R&B songs use major seventh chords... like Tighten Up and I Believe I'm Falling In Love. Some pop songs with major 7th chords are Crystal Blue Persuasion (which is kinda schmaltzy I have to admit... actually the same progression as I Believe Im Falling In Love) and the intro to Benny and the Jets by Elton John.
     
  11. jazztele

    jazztele Poster Extraordinaire

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    i'm pretty sure i get what you're saying, just be careful, i'd write that as #I(6)--or better, b2(6)
     
  12. davidge1

    davidge1 Friend of Leo's

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    Jazztele, You're right... I meant that the chord was a half step higher than the I chord, not that the 6th of the chord was sharp.
     
  13. jazztele

    jazztele Poster Extraordinaire

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    cool--it is a good ending.
     
  14. GuitarSmithTN

    GuitarSmithTN TDPRI Member

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    You may want to try something more "modal" sounding. For example, Bm9(11) (B Dorian: B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A) moving to Bbmaj7 (Bb Lydian: Bb, C, D, E, F, G, A). An example of this would be "Phase Dance" by Pat Metheny.

    The Lydian Mode gives kind of a hipper maj7 sound (the +11). You could also use this in the previously mentioned Dm7 - Bbmaj7 type progression. the E note functions as a 9 for the Dm7 chord and a +11 for the Bbmaj7. You could also fool with something like Dm7 - Fmaj7 - Bbmaj7.

    Or go for some farther "out" modalities by using that Bbmaj7+11 over an A bass note for a Phrygian sound.

    There's ways to use this stuff and avoid pop-cheesy-shmaltz...
     
  15. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Really? I don't think these sound good at all. Must be me.
     
  16. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My spidey senses are tingling. I think the suggestions were coming from a jazzer! Playing FMaj7 over G7 gives you a G13 sound. The C in the FMaj7 is the most challenging note because it clangs against the B in G7. Try a FMaj7#11:

    xx3200 or add a G bass to get an inking of the result 3x3200

    Playing CMaj7 over Am gives you an Amin9 sound. That's even kosher for Country.
     
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