Following on from last month’s chord lesson, in this issue we’re looking at the relaxed, mellow sound of the major 7 chord
“Are ‘maj7’ chords such as Cmaj7 the same as ‘7’ chords like C7? I’ve seen both kinds in some songs I’m trying to learn.”
Despite their similar names, these two chords have very different sounds. We looked at ‘7’ chords last month – hopefully, you remember how they sound tense and edgy, and are well suited to blues or any song that needs a bit of bite. Maj7 (aka major 7 or major 7th) chords have a much more relaxed sound, ideal for mellow ballads or smooth jazz.
“Got it. Can you give me some examples so I can take a listen?”
Sure! The verse in Marvin Gaye’s What’sgoing On begins on an Emaj7 chord under the ‘Mother mother’ line. Something by The Beatles is a good one to listen to – its verse begins with C, Cmaj7 and C7 chords, so you can compare the sounds of all three.
“Oh, that’s great! So how do I get started?”
We’ve written out some chord boxes for you on the right. It might seem like there are lots of chords to learn on the guitar, but this month’s shapes are just as easy to play as any basic major and minor chord. Jump in and try them.
“Remind me what all the dots mean…”
The dots tell you where to put your fingers on the fretboard. The numbers tell you which of your four fingers to use. Black dots are root notes, eg, a C note in a Cmaj7 chord or D note in a Dmaj7 chord; all the other notes are red. Finally, an O denotes an ‘open’ un-fretted string and X means the string stays silent.
“Some of these are quite easy to play.”
That’s right! Lots of guitar chords have complicated names but are easy to play. It reminds you not to worry when you see a chord name you don’t understand.
“What’s my next step?”
Take a look at the two short tab riffs at the bottom of the page. The first is an arpeggio. This means you play one note at a time instead of strumming the whole chord. It’s a good way to check for accurate fretting. Follow that with the strummed chord in our second example.
whatyouwi lllear n The distinctive sound of major 7th chords A selection of open-chord shapes An arpeggio and a strumming pattern