Is there a difference between Cmaj♭7 and Cdominant7 chords? As far as I can tell they are the same, is one used more commonly than the other?
I agree with John's explanation, but I would like to point out one important thing, which is probably the cause of the misunderstanding in the question. The symbol
Cmajb7 is not only uncommon, but it is actually a contradiction in itself. The
maj in the symbol
Cmaj7 does not refer to the quality of the triad but it refers to the seventh. So the correct parsing of
C - maj7, and not
Cmaj - 7. I think the question only makes sense if one uses the latter parsing, because then it would make perfect sense to specify what kind of seventh should be added on top of the major triad. However, with the correct parsing - and this is of course just convention - the symbol
Cmajb7 is non-sensical, because it says: take a major triad
C and add a major flat seventh
majb7, which is of course impossible.
So the only common symbol for a C dominant seventh chord is
C7, because it is understood that
7 stands for a minor seventh. If we want a major seventh, we need to use
maj7, or, alternatively, any of the common symbols that indicate a major seventh chord, such as
CMa7. I personally only use
Cmaj7 because they never cause misunderstandings.
Technically they are the same thing BUT the spellings Cmaj♭7 and Cdominant7 are not used for chord symbols. if you want a chord that is spelled C-E-G-B♭ you simply write C7. That indicates Root, M3, P5 and m7. If you want C-E-G-B (M7) then you would write Cmaj7, although there are other ways to indicate a major 7th chord, such as ma7, M7 to name a couple.
The suffix major (Maj7) is referring to the 7th and not to the chord quality.
So there is only C7 (major chord with minor 7th) or Cmaj7 (major chord and major 7th)
But yes, the C7 can have different functions:
In classical music theory the C7 chord has the function of the dominant resolving to the tonic F.
In blues the C7 is the tonic (on C major) and is stable even it has a minor seventh (blue note - also the subdominant isn't notated as F b7 in the Blues and Jazz notation. F7 means here a minor 7th). In classic IV7 is corresponding to F Maj7 in Jazz.
But the symbol is the same - like others comments and answers say.
I think your intention is understood, and the chords would be the same, but you aren't following the chord symbol conventions.
It may help to understand the modifiers in chord symbols by adding parentheses which can be added to group the modifiers with the thing they modify. Normally parentheses will be added only to the chord extensions, but I will add them to all elements, just to illustrate...
Cmaj♭7 and Cdominant7
- Notice the
majmodifies the root. The four triad types appended after the root letter:
,dim`. Depending on the notation system other symbols can be used, but they are still appended.
7, all the modifiers after the triad type are prefixed before the number
The second chord is obviously meant to mean
C dominant seventh chord. But, is the modifier 'dominant' for the triad
(Cdominant)(7) or the seventh
(C)(dominant7)? The problem is
dominant isn't a modifier for either a triad type or a simple interval. It's not a 'dominant' triad. The triad part is major. The interval of a seventh isn't 'dominant'. Technically it's a minor seventh. 'Dominant' refers to the whole chord. Again, the meaning is clear, but that isn't a modifier of only one part of the chord.
The default values of all the elements - the triad type and the extensions - are those of a dominant
V13 in a major key. Spelled in
C major it would be
G B D F A C E. In terms of intervals above the root it would be major third, perfect fifth, minor seventh, major ninth, perfect eleventh, major thirteenth.
That brings us back to...
(Cmaj)(♭7) where the
maj is redundant, we know it by default. The
♭ is a bit tricky. Sevenths are minor by default, and in this chord symbols system
♭ means lower by half step, but surely you didn't mean to make a minor seventh a diminished seventh! I'm sure you meant it is lowering a major seventh to minor. But, as sevenths are minor by default,
♭7 is redundant too. You only need to write
Watch out for some confusing points in chord symbols, like...
dimcould apply to both the triad and seventh
- sharp and flat modifiers used as shorthand for 'raised' or 'lowered' even when an accidental isn't used in the actual spelling like
B D F Awith no flat.
- sharp isn't used to raise the minor seventh,
Δget used, parenthesis help readability with things like
- alternate possibilities like