Finding 7th Intervals And How To Make Them Sound Good

How To Find 7th Intervals On The Piano

Some intervals sound great. And, others need a little love before they are “so bad, it’s good”. The 7th intervals fall into this second category.

This is part of a mini series about intervals on your piano. We have covered 2nd and 3rd intervals, 4th and 5th intervals and 6th intervals. This article references things already mentioned in those articles.

What Are 7th Intervals?

There tends to be a fairly strong reaction when hearing 7th intervals. A few people will be fine. But, you may feel these intervals need to move to another note. They feel unfinished.

Like 2nd, 3rd and 6th intervals, we have major vs. minor versions. And, 7th intervals are closely related to chords. In particular, those commonly used in blues and jazz music!

Listen below (or click here) to see and hear these intervals in action!

Song Examples:

In the chorus of “The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA, you’ll hear a fantastic example of minor 7ths. The pattern starts with a minor 7ths each time!

For an example of Major 7ths, check out “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones. Not only is it relaxing, but we have examples of Major 7ths in both hands (just not shown in the video above).

Typically students learn 7th intervals as they are learning full octave scales. This is because it is the last note before we repeat our starting note. For example, a C Major scale starts and ends on C. Once you know your Major and minor scales though, it opens up a lot of types of chords!

Types Of Chords That Use Them

I like making sure my piano students see and hear these fairly early so they don’t come as a shock later. It also allows them to play music that sounds more complex, even though it isn’t.

There are FIVE types of 7th chords used in music. The three most common are:

  • Major 7th: has a Major 7th interval on the outside
  • Dominant 7th: has a minor 7th interval on the outside
  • Minor 7th: has a minor 7th interval

The Dominant 7th is by far the most used in music regardless of level. But, why am I sharing about 7th chords? Because in root position these each form a 7th interval. And, unlike when you play the notes of 7th interval at the same time … these sound great!

Watch the video above (or click here) to see and hear these chords!

Improvise On The Piano

Try playing 7th intervals on the piano! Play a combination of melodic (one note at a time) and chord notes with rhythm.

To help you melody feel more finished, play the 7th interval then move up or down a note. How does this sound to your ear?

You can watch the video above (or click here) to see and hear the mini song I created.

7th Intervals On The Piano

While 7th intervals can seem intimidating at first, they can be an important and beautiful part of the music you create!

  • 7th interval can be Major or minor
  • They are closely related to outside notes of 7th chords
  • The Dominant 7th is the most common chord we hear that uses a 7th interval
  • It’s fun to use these intervals to create your own mini songs

What was your favourite way to play 7th intervals?

Let me know in the comments!

Imagine learning how to play piano through fun activities, improvising (creating music in the moment) plus writing your own music!

As a parent, imagine your child’s smile as they have fun learning piano and creating music … plus, family and friends as they hear the music your child has created.

As a teen or adult student, imagine jamming with musician friends .. or wowing them with the latest song you wrote.

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