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To play a major seventh, we play the seventh degree of the scale plus one half step. I've never really understood why it's called a major seventh, so maybe this can be cleared up for me here. My main question, however, is whether or not this addition can be applied to a minor chord. That is, if I had a D minor, and I wanted to add the seventh note plus one half step, my notes would include D, F, A, and C#. Is this traditional?

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    Yes, it's called a minor major seventh chord. – David Bowling Mar 27 at 1:33
  • Why's it called a major seventh? – Chris Lallo Mar 27 at 1:35
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    The seventh is the "major seventh" interval, and it's played over the minor triad, hence "Minor-major seventh chord". – user45266 Mar 27 at 3:51
  • Could it be that English native speaking don‘t know or reflect the latin meaning of major and minor as these are borrowed words? – Albrecht Hügli Mar 27 at 6:02
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The 7th scale degree plus a half step brings you to the tonic. Think key of C. Seventh degree is B. B and C are a half step apart. So I think that may be part of your confusion.

  • Major triad with a major seventh is a "major 7th" chord.
  • Major triad with a flat 7 is a "dominant 7th"
  • Minor triad with a flat 7 is a "minor 7th"
  • Minor triad with a major 7 is a "minor major 7th"

In C:

  • C E G B: Cmaj7
  • C E G Bb: C7
  • C Eb G Bb: Cm7
  • C Eb G B: CMin(Maj7)

Note that the "C7" means C dominant 7th.

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In a minor-major seventh chord the triad is minor (like Dm) but the seventh added is a major seventh above the chord root.

When naming seventh chords it's the quality of the seventh used in the names.

Another case is the diminished seventh chord. The base triad is diminished, but most importantly the seventh is a diminished seventh above the root.

The naming isn't totally logical and consistent: ex. dominant seventh chord, half-diminished seventh. Just learn the exceptions.

...possible to have a minor, major seventh chord?

Yes.

Don't get confused by the tones of the key signature and the major seventh used in the chord. It just requires an understanding of how minor key music works.

The D minor key signature uses a C natural, but the minor-major seventh chord will be spelled with a C#. Using this tone which isn't in the key signature is no problem. In minor key music the 7th and 6th scale degrees get raised or lowered depending on the harmonic context.

A really well known example of a minor-major seventh chord is the song My Funny Valentine. Take a look at the song and you will see the minor-major seventh chord is formed by a chromatically descending line from the tonic down to the sixth scale degree. The whole time that line descends the bass not holds the tonic. So, that is a line descending D C# C B over a D bass.

When the D F A C# chord is played you could call it a proper minor-major seventh chord, but you could also call it a kind of passing motion, a mere decoration of a plain Dm chord.

An unambiguous example would be Bernard Hermann's Psycho.

When you ask is the chord possible, I think you want to keep in mind how the chord is formed in the music and whether it's a bona fide chord or something decorative.

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Others have already described the technicalities of the chord, but I wanted to add a bit more about its use in the wild.

When I used to teach the 7th chords in my classroom, my favorite go-to example of the chord was the Dr. Evil Theme from Austin Powers. It partially outlines the chord twice, and then does a full statement at 0:25-0:26.

It's something of a special effect chord for high tonal instability. It's not always as stark and dramatic as the example I just gave you. You can also find it used in impressionistic music from time to time.

Most commonly, you'll find ghost appearances of the chord occurring spontaneously from time to time with the major 7th as a passing tone between 8 and 6. These would typically not be analyzed as a Major-minor seventh, however, since the 7 is really just a passing tone.

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Yes, it's possible. Cm(maj7) is C Eb G B. The 'minor' part of the name refers to the basic triad which is Cm.

It's not only possible but very common!

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