In the next set of lessons we’re going to learn a bit about 7th chords and the blues. After completing these lessons, you’ll be able to entertain your friends and impress them with some rootsy sounding blues and some short licks to boot! You are probably familiar with some well-known Blues artists already; BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Lee Hooker & Buddy Guy are some of the most prominent Blues artists that we’ve had the pleasure of listening to.
The Blues have been around with us for a long time now, and have really provided a catalyst into modern rock, funk & rock 'n' roll. Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Carlos Santana were some of the guitar pioneers who took the Blues and the guitar further, opening doors into new territories. Since their time guitar music has evolved into many different genres, but essentially they all stem from the Blues.
Blues often use the 7th chord, so in this lesson we’re going to learn about that mysterious number 7 and its significance in blues.
You’re now familiar with A D & E chords and can change between them fairly quickly, so this is a great point of departure for learning our 7th chords. First off , let’s discuss why it is called a 7th chord.
Here's a basic explanation. If you were to take a regular major chord, like C for example, it has a scale that goes with it, which you may already know. It looks like the diagram below in letter form and the numbers represent the intervals in the scale. (The basic chord itself is made of only three notes: the 1st (root), 3rd and 5th all marked by *)
C D E F G A B C
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
* * *
In musical notation and TAB this scale looks as follows:
Now to make it a 7th chord, we have to flatten the 7th note. So in this case we need to flatten B (4th fret on the G string), so it becomes B flat (3rd fret on the G string). Now the scale looks as follows. Again, the asterisks mark the notes actually in the chord, and now that we’ve added the flattened 7th, we have four notes. This additional note makes the chord sound warmer and thicker.
C D E F G A Bb C
1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 8
* * * *
Now that you have an insight into the basic theory behind the 7th chord, we need to translate this to A E & D. To get our seventh notes the simplest way, all we need to do is lower the octave by 2 frets to get the flattened 7th.
So, if we start by playing an E chord, all you need to do is take your third finger off the 2nd fret of the D string to leave that string open. You may find that it is difficult to move your third finger independently of the others, but just try hard and you’ll get it. Once you’ve managed that, you’ll have the E7 chord! That wasn’t so hard, was it? So it’s almost the same as an E chord. The only difference is that you’ve lowered the octave by two frets from E to open D.
Here’s what it looks like.
Now let’s move onto the A chord and see if you can figure out how to make it a 7th chord. Which finger do you need to move to make it a 7th chord? What new note is the flattened 7th of A? Think about it before moving onto the next paragraph……
OK, let’s see if you got it: the flattened 7th of A is…….G. All you need to do is play an A chord, and take your second finger off the 2nd fret of the G string. Bingo, you've got an A7 chord. But…..there’s a snag.
In order to make the most of your left hand in the future, you need to change the left hand fingering as shown in the pictures below. You’ll get used to it eventually, just keep practicing it.
Ok, now your task is to practice changing between the chords of E7 and A7 starting at 80bpm on your metronome and moving up to 100 in increments of 5bpm every couple of minutes.
Next lesson we’re going to learn D7, a Blues progression, and a new rhythm pattern to use in the Blues! Enjoy! And remember 10 minutes a day makes you able to play!