I reckon the major-7 chord is my favourite guitar chord.

I was strumming Amaj7 chord and got a lovely first line to a song, but I am not musical enough to figure out what chords fit the melody I was singing. What would be some obvious chords to directly follow such a chord? And in normal (not jazz) music, which chords in a key would lend themselves well to being substituted with the major-7 alternative - i.e. is it more likely Amaj7 is Imaj7, Vmaj7, etc?

  • Damnit how do I get a chord fingering to appear? I did it by mistake the other day, now I can't get it to display a typical Amaj7 voicing. – Mr. Boy Feb 26 '15 at 16:34
  • Indent by four spaces (like a code block). – NReilingh Feb 26 '15 at 17:44
  • Is it documented what chord types it recognises and the namings one has to use? – Mr. Boy Feb 26 '15 at 17:52
  • In A major, Amaj7 would possibly resolve to Dmaj7 (Imaj7 to IVmaj7) – mey Feb 27 '15 at 3:57
  • @Mr.Boy Documentation is here: jtab.tardate.com – NReilingh Feb 27 '15 at 15:33

To understand how chords with 7ths work, you need to know the scale you are using. The chords most commonly used are built on thirds, so if you choose a scale and then a note from that scale, you'll see what chords are maj7 chords, by ascending thirds from the note you chose. *

In the major scale, only the I and IV are major chords and have a major 7th.

So, let's say you want to use the Amaj7 chord. One way to look at this chord would be to consider it the Imaj7 from the A major scale. The chord is built on thirds -- A,C#,E,G# (G# is a major 7th). After the Amaj7 chord, you can use any chord from the scale, like you would use if you simply had a A (without the maj7).

Pretty much the same would work if you considered it as a IVmaj7. It would be the IV from the E major scale. So, you can create a chord progression in the E major scale and instead of a simple A chord, to play a nice Amaj7.

What I like to do sometimes is to play the chord as it is, without the 7th and then add the 7th.

Also, I've never seen a Vmaj7 chord. The V usually is dominant (V7); that means it has a minor 7th instead of a major one; one semitone lower.

*The V doesn't have a major seventh. Let's assume we are in the A major scale. The notes in the A major scale are A,B,C#,D,E,F#,G#. The V chord has E as a root. Let's ascend thirds from E and see what kind of chord we have:

  • E (root)
  • G# (major third)
  • B (perfect fifth); so far we have a major chord
  • D (minor 7th).

So the V is a 7 chord, not a maj7 one.

  • "In the major scale, only the I and IV are major chords and have a major 7th." - I didn't understand that, could you reword or clarify in your answer? e.g. why doesn't V "have a major 7th"? – Mr. Boy Feb 26 '15 at 16:59
  • @Mr.Boy I added more info at the end of my answer – Shevliaskovic Feb 26 '15 at 17:02
  • After your edits I think it all makes sense, especially why Vmaj7 isn't a thing :) So in summary, a maj7 can be directly substituted for the same degree plain major chord in that key? – Mr. Boy Feb 26 '15 at 17:04
  • @Mr.Boy Yup; Also, keep in mind that the 'maj' goes to the 7th, not the chord. Another similar chord is Aminmaj7 which is a Aminor chord with a major 7th (the I from the harmonic minor scale). It's a weird sounding chord; try it out. – Shevliaskovic Feb 26 '15 at 17:06
  • And this makes sense... I could see Bm, C#m and D would fit nicely with Amaj7 and now I checked those are chords from the key of A mjor (not a key I know off-hand, but Amaj7 is the easiest maj7 chord I know on guitar!) – Mr. Boy Feb 26 '15 at 17:07

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