April 17, 2020 by Klaus Crow
The Min7 chord is a beautiful way to enhance the minor chord. It gives it some extra colour and depth. It sounds kind of contemplative and a bit more sophisticated than your standard minor chord. It’s a graceful chord.
The minor 7th chord is used widely in every style of music and today we’re going to learn how to play it in a different set of varieties and build it from the ground up.
We’re going to look at “open” Minor 7th chords (open strings involved), moveable Min7 chords (no open strings involved) with the root note starting at the Low E (6th string), A-string (5th string) and the D-string (4th string), and finally some more beautiful sounding min7 chords you might not have played before, but are an asset to your chord vocabulary.
MIN7 CHORD CONSTRUCTION – MUSIC THEORY
A minor chord consist of the root (1), flatted third (b3) and fifth (5) notes (1 b3 5) of the major scale. The minor 7th chord (min7) consists of the root (1), flatted third, fifth and flatted seventh notes (1 b3 5 b7) of the major scale. That means only the b7 is added to the minor chord.
For example, if you take the notes of the C major scale = C D E F G A B C
The C minor chord (Cm) consists of the notes: C Eb G (1 b3 5)
The C minor 7 chord (Cm7) consists of the notes: C eb G Bb (1 b3 5 b7)
Another example: A major scale = A B C# D E F# G# A
The Amin chord consists of the notes: A C E (1 b3 5)
The Amin7 chord consists of the notes: A C E G (1 b3 5 b7)
This way you can build or analyze any Min7 chord:
Note: In the chord diagrams above: the black dots above the nut are open strings, and the letters in the dots indicate the note names.
POPULAR MIN7 CHORD SONG EXAMPLES
A nice and clear example of a min7 chord song is “Long train running” by the Doobie brothers switching from Gm7 (root on the A-string) to Cm7 (root on the low E-string), Ain’t no sunshine by Bill Whithers uses the Am7, Dm7 and Em7 chord, but also the famous intro of Heart of gold by Neil Young starts off with an Em7 chord.
“OPEN” MIN7 CHORDS
The chord diagrams below show the most common “open” Min7 chord shapes. “Open” means there are open strings played in the chord.
The numbers on the dots in the chord diagrams below indicate the finger positioning: 1 = index finger, 2 = middle finger, 3 = ring finger, 4 = pinky
The “x” on top means that string is muted. The “o” means you play an open string.
MOVEABLE MIN7 CHORD SHAPE (root note Low E-string)
The chord diagrams below shows a moveable Min7 chord shape. A moveable chord shape means you can move the entire chord shape up or down the neck to any key. The lowest note in the chord on the low E-string (6th string) is the root note and determines the name of the chord.
You can see it’s the same Min7 chord shape each time, but it moves up the fretboard starting on the 1st fret, then to the 3rd fret, 5th fret, 7th fret and so on. (see the green fret numbers next to the diagram). Of course, you can also move up to F#m7 (2nd fret), G#m7 (4th fret), Bbm7 (6th fret) and so on.
If you take a look at the third diagram on the left, it has the root note on the Low E-string, 5th fret, which is an “A” note, so the name of the chord is Amin7. The root determines the name of the chord.
MOVEABLE MIN7 CHORD SHAPE (root note A-string)
The chord diagrams below are moveable Min7 chord shapes with the root note on the A-string (5th string). This is the lowest note in the chord and determines the name of the chord. Move the chord shape up or down the neck to any key.
MOVEABLE MIN7 CHORD SHAPE (root note D-string)
The chord diagrams below are moveable Min7 chord shapes with the root note on the D-string (4th string). Again, the lowest note in the chord (the root note) determines the name of the chord.
OTHER GRACEFUL MIN7 CHORD SHAPES
In the chord diagrams below you can see even more beautiful and ‘moveable’ minor7 chord shapes. You can move each chord shape up and down the neck and play them in any key you like. Listen to their unique sounds. Some of them have nice fingerings which often have my preference and are likely to stick with me.
- Practice and memorize the open Min7 chords.
- Practice and memorize the Min7 moveable chord with the root on the 6th string in different keys.
- Practice and memorize the Min7 moveable chord with the root on the 5th string in different keys.
- Practice and memorize the Min7 closed chord with the root on the 4th string in different keys.
- Practice an Fmin7 with the root on the 6th, 5th and 4th string.
- Practice a Amin7 with the root on the 6th, 5th and 4th string.
- Practice every single chord name with the root on the 6th, 5th and 4th string using the cycle of fourths to go through all 12 keys.
- Listen to the popular minor 7th chord songs and try to recognize their minor 7th sounds.
- Incorporate your favorite min7 chords into your song practice so they become a part of your playing style.
If you have any questions or anything else, please leave them in the comments below. I appreciate it.