One-Octave Minor 7th

What is a Minor 7th Chord?

Seventh chords, as we’ve seen with the major 7th and dominant 7th, contain 4 different notes – a root, 3rd, 5th and 7th.

The minor 7th chord is the most common minor-type seventh chord you’ll come across. It’s used frequently in rock, funk, jazz, and most everywhere else.

Many times you’ll find minor 7ths as the main, foundational chords when you’re in a minor key. More often you’ll see them, like minor triads, mixed among other types of chords.

Minor Seventh Chord Construction

The minor 7th chord just adds a minor 7th interval, or flatted 7th, to the minor triad pattern of root, 3rd and 5th. (See intervals.) The minor 7th is built with a minor 3rd, a perfect 5th and a minor 7th.

If you examine the thirds construction of the minor 7th, you’ll see it is built from stacking a minor third (root to 3), major third (3 to 5) and minor third (5 to 7) on top of any root note.

Minor 7th Chord Pattern Fingering

If you’ve learned to finger the minor triad, you only need to add one more note with your first finger to play the minor 7th pattern.

Play:

Root (1st finger)
b3 (4th finger)
5th (3rd finger)
b7th (1st finger)
Octave root (3rd finger)

Be mindful of reaching all the way to the fret with your 4th finger on the flat 3rd. The tendency is to not reach and get some fret buzz.

Minor 7th Chord Symbols

The chord symbol for a minor 7th chord simply adds the number 7 to the minor triad chord symbol. A minor 7th built on the root note C would be notated Cm7.

Just as with the minor triad, there are a number of other suffixes indicating minor. The minor 7th may also be indicated by C-7, Cmi7 or Cmin7. These all mean the same thing. Again, I’m not a fan of the dash because it can be hard to see (and I have pretty good eyesight).

Applying the Minor 7th Chord

I added a couple of minor 7th chord example basslines. You can use this pattern much like the other chord patterns. Remember to emphasize the notes of the chord when you create basslines.

A lot of times you can use this chord pattern over a plain old minor triad without disrupting the basic minor sound being played by the rest of the band. Even though the triad doesn’t have a 7th, it can still work. Follow what sounds good.

Minor 7th Details
Chord Symbol Notation: Cm7, C-7, Cmi7, Cmin7
C minor 7th spelling: C, Eb, G, Bb
Intervallic construction: Root, m3, P5, m7
Thirds construction: m3, M3, m3

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