Music Foundations Tutorial: Using Seventh Chords For Harmonic Progression Pt.3: Dominant Seventh Chords (Dom7) w/ Max Wild

In this three-part Music Foundations tutorial, musician and Dubspot Instructor Max Wild demonstrates how to use seventh chords to enrich harmonic progressions. In the third installment, Max shows you how to construct and apply dominant seventh (Dom7) chord in a musical context. We have a series of upcoming Music Foundations course start dates in NYC (6/6, 6/24, 7/13) LA (6/18, 6/19, 6/20) and Online! Enroll now!

As explained in the previous tutorials (check out part 1 and part 2), seventh chords are four-note chords that derive their name from the upper-most note, a seventh interval above the root. They consist of the Root (lowest note in root position), 3rd (2nd note), 5th (3rd note), and 7th (fourth note). In the case of the Dom7 the root and 3rd are a major third (M3) apart (4 half-steps). The 5th is a Perfect 5th above the Root (7 half-steps), and the 7th is a minor 7th above the Root (10 half-steps). Another way to look at this construct would be to count the intervals from one note to the next. In that case we would count a major 3rd (M3) from the Root to 3rd, a minor 3rd (m3) from 3rd to 5th, and m3 from 5th to 7th.

As mentioned, seventh chords sound thicker in texture and more colorful than triads, because of the added seventh. We often associate their sound with jazz, however they can be found in all music genres, where they are used to make the harmony sound richer.  Within seventh chords, each chord has a distinct sound quality. The Dom7 chord sounds much stronger and ‘dominant’ than the major and minor seventh chords, and is traditionally found in the blues, soul, and funk. It gets its name from the fact that it is the chord that naturally occurs on the dominant (5th note) of a scale, so in C major for example the dominant note is G, and the chord build on that note is a G7 chord.

To demonstrate the sound of the Dom7 I am going to play a chord progression in which I use only dominant 7th chords, however, you are of course at liberty to mix dominant 7th chords with all other types of chords when creating a chord progression of your own. The chord progression I use consists of the C7 and F7 chords, as well as a few extra passing chromatic dominant 7th chords. I have added a bassline, melody, and beat to give some context of how to use these chords in a song. The best way to learn how to use seventh chords though is through experimentation and trying them out in different musical situations. I hope you find this approach useful and use it to create rich harmonic sequences of your own. – Max Wild

Here are some examples of the dominant 7th chord used by other artists:

James Brown “Funky President”: Entire verse is D#7:

D’Angelo “Brown Sugar”: 4th chord of verse is F7:

David Guetta “I Can Only Imagine”: Entire first verse is E7:

MOA “My Name Is MOA”: Second chord of guitar solo chords is B7:

Dubspot Instructor Max Wild is a saxophonist and electronic music producer based in New York City. He recently launched his latest project under the moniker MOA, with a debut EP My Name Is MOA coming out in June of 2014. Listen to the title track “My Name Is MOA” above and visit MOA for more information.

Music Foundations

Upcoming Course Start Dates. Register today!
6/6, 6/24, 7/13 (NYC)

6/16, 6/17, 6/20, 6/21 (LA)
6/6 (Dubspot Online, Space still available!)

The best producers, DJs, and musicians in the world strive to be well-rounded. So should you. In Dubspot’s Music Foundations Program, you’ll explore three major aspects of music: rhythmic theory, melodic theory, and critical listening.

Unravel electronic music’s origins, build your chops, learn musical language and theory, and make and play music the way you want.

What’s Included:

  • Music Foundations Level 1: Pads & Rhythmic Theory
  • Music Foundations Level 2: Keys & Melodic Theory
  • Music Foundations Level 3: Electronic Music Appreciation

“This course exceeded my expectations. I went through everything I needed to have a solid knowledge of basic music theory.” – Jonathan Crespo, Miami

“MF has been an amazing experience! I didn’t realize I was going to learn so much about electronic music history, something my generation missed.” – Yianno Koumi, United Kingdom

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Anyone who comes by will have the opportunity to ask our instructors in-depth questions about our programs, curriculum and philosophy, and watch live music production and DJ demos. You can even sit down at one of our workstations and take it for a test drive. If you are still trying to decide what you are looking for, we suggest you stop by one of our Open Houses to learn more about the school, understand what the learning process at Dubspot entails and help you decide what is best for you. We can also help with scheduling details and payment options.