Getting Started With… Minor 7th chords
Rounding off our series looking at 7th chords, we turn our attention to the moody sounds of the minor variety
“How are minor 7s different to ‘major 7’ and ‘7’ chords?”
Well, each chord has its own sound: ‘7’ chords (aka dominant 7ths) such as E7 or A7 have a typically tense atmosphere, perfect for blues or any song in need of a bright, edgy sound; major 7ths have a mellower sound suited to ballads and laid-back jazz or folk. Minor 7ths sound similar to basic minor chords (like Dm or Em) but with slightly a less moody feel. Played with a clean tone, minor 7ths are a great starting point for funk and disco rhythms, or you can dial in some drive for an indie or alt-rock vibe.
“Can you give me some examples?”
Noel Gallagher made great use of Em7 as the opening chord in Wonderwall. Jerry Cantrell employs the same shape in Nutshell by Alice In Chains. Also listen to Chic’s Good Times – the opening chord is an Em7 barre chord. These are common shapes used in every style of music.
“That’s great! How do I get started?”
Start by looking at the minor 7th shapes on the right. They’re all easy to play and if you already know some basic major and minor open chords then these should be easy enough. Remember, the dots tell you where to put your fingers on the fretboard, the numbers tell you which fingers to use and black dots are root notes.
“Let’s start playing some music!”
Take a look at the tab examples below. The first one is an arpeggio, which means you’ll be playing one note at a time. Hold down all the notes of the Em7 chord then focus your attention on picking the strings as in the tab.
“It’s a little tricky. Any tips?”
Fret right on your fingertips so that you don’t accidentally mute out any adjacent strings. Try using all downstrokes or a ‘down up down up’ picking pattern. You may find one method easier than the other.
“How shall I tackle the second example?”
Practise the chord change first, without worrying about the strumming rhythm. Once you’re comfy with the chord change, play in time with the backing track.