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Thread: Playing a Seven Chord

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    Registered User Christian Flanagan's Avatar
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    Default Playing a Seven Chord

    There's something about this chord that I'm failing to get my head around.

    Nope, I'm not referring to seventh chords, chords with a fourth note that is the flattened 7th note.

    I talking about the diminished seven chord. For example, Olla Belle Reed's "High on a Mountain," where I play this chord progression of the chorus: I - viiº - I - IV - etc.

    In the key of G, I always play an F for the seven instead of a F#mb5.

    Why is the root of the seven chord also flattened?
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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    The diminished triad doesn't have a flatted root; in the key of G major, according to diatonic harmony, the VII chord is F#dim

    Playing that chord, the root of the chord (F#) is not flatted. The root is F#, and the other two notes are stacked minor thirds.

    On the mandolin fretboard, you can find these notes on one string by playing, for instance, F# at fret 4 of the D string, then skip two frets to play a A note at fret 7, then skip two frets to play a C note at fret 10.

    If you were to leave the triad and add a fourth note, you'd skip up two more frets and add a D# at fret 13. This would be a flatted 7th relative to the F# so you can view this as a Dominant 7th F# diminished chord.

    Each note is stacked a minor third above the last.

    If you check the F#dim7 shape (called simply F# Diminished, or fully diminished) here at the cafe chord finder, you'll discover that it is pretty easy to play, and these chords have an unusual property enabling you to move them around the neck quite a bit.

    Here is the page for F#Dim https://www.mandolincafe.com/cgi-bin...?chord=F%23Dim
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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Flanagan View Post
    For example, Olla Belle Reed's "High on a Mountain," where I play this chord progression of the chorus: I - viiº - I - IV - etc.
    If you're playing an F Major in the chord progression, and it is correct for the song, then the song and melody call for an F Major chord.

    I'm not familiar with that tune. But what I'm saying is that if the song calls for the diminished chord, then it will sound right. If the song calls for an F Major, that's no problem. Just because there is what we call a diatonic harmony for a major key does not mean that a song or tune has to be written with those chords and only those chords. Some song progressions use chords outside the key, or outside the diatonic harmony of a given key. There are also "chord substitutions". So learning about the theory and about diatonic harmony is great in my opinion (I'm a bit of a nerd), but the sound of music rules, not the theory.
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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    I think this is a modal song - the 7 is flatted. Like so many of the tunes in A modal where we play a G vs G# - Red Haired Boy, for example.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    Just a reminder - a diminished triad is NOT a diminished m7b5 (half-diminished) nor is it a full diminished 7th chord.

    All share the basic dim triad, but the half and full diminished chords have an added note.

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    jbmando RIP HK Jim Broyles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    Christian, in the key of G, F major is called the "flat 7." The 7th degree of the G major scale is F#, so if a song in G major called for a 7 chord, you would play F#m7b5. The anomaly is in the nomenclature for a "7th" chord. G7 is spelled G B D F; the 7th chord with the scalar 7th is called Gmaj7. 7th is the only chord name for which the assumption is a flattened 7th unless indicated otherwise. For example:

    G7 = G B D F
    Gmaj7 = G B D F#
    Gm7 = G Bb D F
    Gm(maj7) = G Bb D F#

    7th is also called dominant 7th, and any 7th chord can be extended with the 9th, 11th, and/or 13th.

    BTW, in your song, the progression is I bVII (not vii°) I IV I V I. The F chord is correct.
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Flanagan View Post
    There's something about this chord that I'm failing to get my head around.



    I talking about the diminished seven chord. For example, Olla Belle Reed's "High on a Mountain," where I play this chord progression of the chorus: I - viiº - I - IV - etc.

    In the key of G, I always play an F for the seven instead of a F#mb5.

    Why is the root of the seven chord also flattened?
    If you are playing an F chord instead of an F#dim, then the progression is I - bVII - I - IV, NOT I - viidim - I - IV.

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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    The way I play this number (based on Timmy O. with Hot Rize) is:

    G - F - G - C - G - D - G on the chorus.

    Ain't no dim chord within 100 yards of it...

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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    I'm pretty sure the OP plays it with a F, but was mistakenly calling the F the 7 chord, whereas it is actually the flat 7.
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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    The reason for the F chord is the F notes in the melody, both verse and chorus.
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    Yep G to F, don't know what it is, but it's the way I play this too. Great tune
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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    I didn't know the tune, but when I read the OP's question I thought he was generalizing - "Why is the root of the seven chord also flattened?" - and he was asking about diminished chords.

    There's diatonic harmony on one hand; on the other hand there is music. I know dozens of songs just in my own small playing repertoire that use chords outside the diatonic harmony of a key. If this song is in G Maj and the F Maj chord sounds right harmonizing the melody, then you play an F Maj - it's the bVII of the key - and will be called for by the melody of that tune.

    This has nothing to do with the vii* chord that normally falls in the diatonic harmony of a major key - which doesn't have a "flat root"

    The cardinal rule in music is that it sounds right - everything else is negotiable. We all know what it's like playing in jams where you "hear" a passing chord belongs but nobody else is playing it - and other such stuff. You harmonize to make things sound good, and everyone doesn't always agree what sounds good. Those are the times you either compromise or play somewhere else.
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  15. #13
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    To me, much of the confusion here, and along the way for many of us, is the semi-casual level of terminology that's thrown around simply because it's common usage. Without attempting to explain theory at my own limit, I suspect that just these few thoughts could relieve the confusion of some:

    1) What we MOST commonly call a "seventh" chord, good ol' G7 for example, should probably be called a "flatted seventh" chord. BUT, because 98% of those that have ever learned or played one will never play, or even hear of, a "major seventh" chord, we (society in general) simply drop the extra "flatted" designation. Why aggravate the millions of six-year-olds who've struggled enough w/ music lessons already?

    2) As if "diminished" chords aren't mystifying enough on their own, many/most of us blithely learned early on that "here's a diminished chord, it has four notes, they're equi-distant apart, and any one of them can be called the root". Yeah but: That describes a "diminished seventh" chord; a true diminished has only three notes. The good part is that, as best I can tell, a dim7 can be substituted for a pure dim almost anywhere (feel free to argue / educate me); the bad part is that far too many don't realize that there actually is a difference between dim and dim7.

    There are other definition/terminology points that I'll pass on for now, but these two always struck me as the most fundamental: easy to learn early on, but less-easy to slot in place once you get a more detailed view of the whole landscape.
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by EdHanrahan View Post

    1) What we MOST commonly call a "seventh" chord, good ol' G7 for example, should probably be called a "flatted seventh" chord. BUT, because 98% of those that have ever learned or played one will never play, or even hear of, a "major seventh" chord, we (society in general) simply drop the extra "flatted" designation. Why aggravate the millions of six-year-olds who've struggled enough w/ music lessons already?
    The formal term for a G7 chord is "major/minor seventh", not "flatted seventh". "Major/minor seventh" means a major chord with a minor seventh.

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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    The formal term I use for a 7th chord is “dominant 7th” as opposed to a major 7th - but the OP was not concerned with the 7th chord, but rather the VII chord.
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    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Flanagan View Post

    Nope, I'm not referring to seventh chords, chords with a fourth note that is the flattened 7th note.

    I talking about the diminished seven chord. For example, Olla Belle Reed's "High on a Mountain," where I play this chord progression of the chorus: I - viiº - I - IV - etc.
    Did you find a chart for "High on a Mountain" that has the "viiº" chord? I haven't heard that song played that way. Not saying that it couldn't be played that way just that most folks, like you, use the F or VIIb in this song. Like this page

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    Registered User Christian Flanagan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by David L View Post
    If you are playing an F chord instead of an F#dim, then the progression is I - bVII - I - IV, NOT I - viidim - I - IV.
    That's what I was looking for. The F chord gets used from the parallel minor key. I see this frequently but I couldn't think of how to express it. Thanks!
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    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Flanagan View Post
    There's something about this chord that I'm failing to get my head around.

    Nope, I'm not referring to seventh chords, chords with a fourth note that is the flattened 7th note.

    I talking about the diminished seven chord. For example, Olla Belle Reed's "High on a Mountain," where I play this chord progression of the chorus: I - viiº - I - IV - etc.

    In the key of G, I always play an F for the seven instead of a F#mb5.

    Why is the root of the seven chord also flattened?
    Reading about 'mixolydian' might also be helpful.
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

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    "I thought I knew a lot about music. Then you start digging and the deeper you go, the more there is."~John Mellencamp

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    jbmando RIP HK Jim Broyles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Flanagan View Post
    That's what I was looking for. The F chord gets used from the parallel minor key. I see this frequently but I couldn't think of how to express it. Thanks!
    Not for nothing, but I told you that a day and five posts earlier.

    If you call the key G major, the F is the bVII; if you say the song is in G mixolydian, then the F becomes the VII, but the V chord has the accidental (F#.) Simpler to call it G major with a bVII, You will be more widely understood.
    "I thought I knew a lot about music. Then you start digging and the deeper you go, the more there is."~John Mellencamp

    "Theory only seems like rocket science when you don't know it. Once you understand it, it's more like plumbing!"~John McGann

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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Broyles View Post
    Not for nothing, but I told you that a day and five posts earlier.

    If you call the key G major, the F is the bVII; if you say the song is in G mixolydian, then the F becomes the VII, but the V chord has the accidental (F#.) Simpler to call it G major with a bVII, You will be more widely understood.
    Roman numerals are derived from the major scale, so an F chord would be a bVII no matter whether it is G major, G minor, or G mixolydian. This is done to avoid this kind of confusion.

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    jbmando RIP HK Jim Broyles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    OK. I figured you would name the chords off the scale of the song. Told ya I'm self taught in this stuff, so my logic is wrong sometimes. Are you saying C is the b3 in the key of Am? If I was writing a chart in Am, using the Nashville system, I would call the 3 C, not C#m. Maybe I'm wrong there, too.
    "I thought I knew a lot about music. Then you start digging and the deeper you go, the more there is."~John Mellencamp

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    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Broyles View Post
    OK. I figured you would name the chords off the scale of the song. Told ya I'm self taught in this stuff, so my logic is wrong sometimes. Are you saying C is the b3 in the key of Am? If I was writing a chart in Am, using the Nashville system, I would call the 3 C, not C#m. Maybe I'm wrong there, too.
    Am would be the 6- in NNS. At least that's how the group I play with now would write it. Even if a C chord is never played in the progression it is still the 1.

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    The convention I've seen is upper case Roman numerals for major, lower case for minor. So the standard doo-wop is I-vi-IV-V. Am is the vi in the key of C. A is the VI in the key of C. Since the key of Am is the relative minor of C, there are no sharps or flats, so C is the III in the key of Am. C# is the III in the key of A, and C#m would be the iii. B is the bIII in the key of Am. This isn't really music theory, its just one of many conventions for naming/denoting chord changes.

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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing a Seven Chord

    Going back to Ed's post (response #13), personally I think the numbers are the most confusing thing in these discussions. We number the scale degrees, we number the chords built on the scale degrees, we number intervals, etc. and a beginner can have trouble picking up the context of exactly what you're referring to when you throw out numbers.

    I learned, and always write it so, that the Arabic numerals 1, 2, 3 &c. refer to notes, as in scale degrees, while Roman numerals refer to chords - and like Mandobart, I use uppercase for Major chords and lowercase for minor chords. But as we know, everyone doesn't use these conventions.

    Confusion on numbers and context seems to me a much worse problem than referring to the dominant 7th chord as simply a 7th chord.
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