Creating Colourful Chord Progressions with The Chain of 7th’s – Music Composition
Articles Blog

Creating Colourful Chord Progressions with The Chain of 7th’s – Music Composition

August 24, 2019

Hi. In today’s quick tip we’re going to
be thinking about the Chain of 7th’s and it works like this. Take the bass note – C, go up a fourth to F, go down a fifth to B, go up a fourth to E, down a
fifth to A, up a fourth to D, down fifth to G, and up a fourth to C. So you get the
idea. you start anywhere you like actually, in
this case we’re starting on C, you go up a fourth, down a fifth, up a fourth, down a
fifth, for as long as you want to and what you do is you decide which key
you’re in, so we’ll work in C major today because there’s no sharps no flats to
worry about and what you’re going to do is form a seventh chord on each of these
notes. So this is C, so C7, so we’re gonna have this chord – CEG is a chord of C, you stick a B on the top we’ve got a seventh. Then we move up to F in the bass and we give
it another seventh, then we go down to B and we form another seventh, up to E with
another seventh and so on… A7, D7, G7 and then C7, r if you want to stop
this chain of sevenths at that point you could just finish with a chord of C. Now
of course that sounds a bit bold doing it like that so I could get some of
those notes into the right hand and I can reallocate the notes to suit and
sometimes it’s quite handy if you do something like this, so if I get C7
and I’ve got it organized like that and I’ve got an E at the top, when I go to F7 I can keep the E at the top. Now why does that work, because E is part of
C7, but E is also part of F7, so it gives you a bit of stability. Then when I
go down to B7 I can move the top down to D, and then it will work again because when
I go to E7 I can keep the D at the top. When I go down to A7 I can slip the top
down to C, then when I come to D7 I can keep the C again. When I go to G I can
move down to B, and I can keep that B when I go on to C. So you see, quite
often what happens is you can find a note that’s common to this seventh and
to that seventh and you can repeat it some way, it doesn’t have to be at the
top could be somewhere else in the texture, so you get a bit of stability
moving between those chords. Now you might want to start by just getting
familiar with how to do what we’ve done so far, but you can use this in any style
and this is the great thing about the chain of sevenths, it’s been used for
hundreds of years. So if you wanted to do it in a kind of 18th century Baroque
style, you could use those chords, you could make me thin the texture a little
bit so maybe you’re just going to work in three parts – a bass with two parts
above it, and you can get a little bit of figuration into the texture like this, so
using exactly the same pattern I’m going to do this in a Baroque style. And so on, you can keep going as long as
you want to. If I wanted to do it in a different style, I could for example
think about a more kind of sort of cocktail piano style, I could take those
as more as block chords. And you see, I’m doing exactly the same
thing, but it’s just working in a completely different style. The other
thing of course you can do with this is you could decide that you’re going to
use it to move to another key, so you could go from C to F, then you might
decide you’re going to go to Bb and then to Eb, so you know you could do
something like starting in C7, then going to an F7 but then go to a Bb7
and then an Eb7, you might then want to go to an Ab7 say, a
Db7, a Gb7 so on. But you could use it to modulate to
different keys just by thinking well if I wanted to go to the key of G, well I
could go A7 and then a D7 with an F# in it that goes to G. So I go C7,
F7, B7, E7, A7, when I get to D7 I put an F# in
it and then I can go to G. So it also has that possibility for moving from one key
to another. So I hope you have a bit of fun playing around with the recipe for the
chain of seventh’s and try using it in lots of different styles, see how you get on.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Are you about to make a video about Secondary Chord Functions? and Borrowed Chords?
    We are to compose a Hymn using Secondary Functions and Borrowed Chords in class. So I wonder how they can be used in chorale efficiently.

  2. do you mean those C7, B7, F7 , and so on are dominants 7th of each Major/minor scale ??

    for example : do G7 mean dominant 7th of C ??

  3. You are talking about what are called Major 7th chords ( at least in popular and jazz music etc) I think you have to make that clear. The first chord you play at 0:55 id C Maj 7 as opposed to C7 which means C dominant 7 ( the 5 of F) . I really feel you need to maybe make another short video to clear up that as it will be confusing a lot of people.

  4. Pleasant day sir, I'm doing a certificate in music, but I'm having difficulty with rhythmic dictation, I can't seem to identify the notes in time when I'm listening, is there an easy method to overcome this hurdle PL, thank you

  5. Maestro: you are a gentlemen and a scholar. Please inform if you have the actual playing of the 7th progression written down. If you do, please inform me. I am willing and happy to pay for it. Respects and gratitude, R

  6. Hello: when you are playing the first C Major Seventh Chord (CEGB) are you one octave (8 Notes) down from Middle C on the Piano or are you two (2) octaves from Middle C. Please inform. Thank you, R

  7. I’m a beginner…In the beginning of this video, you say, “C7 chord”, which is the dominant 7th, should I assume that you mean play CM7th!!!

  8. how is going from F to B a fifth?.. why is it not Bb?.. is it because we are in CM>?… and say I should only look at white keys?

  9. That's actually a C Major 7 (C-E-G-B) not a C7 (C-E-G-Bb). Same for the F Major 7 (F-A-C-E) not a an F7 (F-A-C-Eb)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *