Major Seventh Chords

In this lesson we will look at Major Seventh Chords. All chords are constructed by building up a group of notes from within or outside a given scale. Chords are not restricted to triads. Four, five and six note chords are used in varying styles of music.

Major Seventh Chords

Major seventh chords are created by starting with a major triad and adding the seventh degree of the major scale. Using the C major scale as our example:

C Major Scale C D E F G A B C
Scale Degree I II III IV V VI VII VIII
C Triad C E G
C MA7 C E G B

Construction of the C major 7th chord is completed by using the first, third, fifth and seventh degrees of the C major scale.

Stacking Thirds

Four note chords can be constructed by stacking an interval of a third on top of a triad. The major 7th chord stacks a major third on top of a major triad. Using the C major triad as our starting point:

C Major Seventh Chord Stacking Example

Construction of the C major 7th chord is completed by stacking a major third, G - B, on top of a major triad.

Naming Major Seventh Chords

When naming four note chords the numeric identifier, that is, the number in the name, is taken from the last scale degree. In the table below, the note added to the C major triad, B, is the seventh degree of C major, hence this chord has the number 7 as its numeric identifier.

C MA7 C E G B
C Major Scale C D E F G A B C
Scale Degree I II III IV V VI VII VIII

Following on from our example above, the correct chord symbol for C major seventh is C MA7 .

Alternatively, the major seventh is sometimes notated as △7. Both are commonly used but for the sake of clarity the abbreviated major seventh name, MA7, will be used.