The Study Of Musical Intervals on Guitar Part 7: The 7th Interval

The Minor 7th.

This is a continuation of past 6 blogs on intervals.
You can check those blogs here:

The Study of Musical Intervals Part 1
The Study of Musical Intervals Part 2: The 2nd Interval
The Study of Musical Intervals Part 3: The 3rd Interval
The Study of Musical Intervals Part 4: The 4th Interval
The Study of Musical Intervals Part 5: The 5th Interval
The Study of Musical Intervals Part 6: The 6th Interval

This week we’ll discuss the 7th intervals.

The minor 7th interval is a half step larger than the major 6th.
This is a 7th interval because there are 7 letter names involved from the lower to the higher note.

The interval distance between the notes is 5 whole steps, which ads up to 10 frets from note to note.

m7 staff

A major scale has FIVE minor 7th intervals:

The minor 7th has TWO half steps involved over a 7-note span. This interval occurs in all the locations where the 3-4 and 7-8 half steps are involved over 7 notes.

    1) On the 2nd scale degree (In the key of C this is D-C)
    2) On the 3rd scale degree (In the key of C this is E-D)
    3) On the 5th scale degree (In the key of C this is G-F)
    4) On the 6th scale degree (In the key of C this is A-G)
    5) On the 7th scale degree (In the key of C this is B-A)

In other words: everywhere EXCEPT on the 1st and the 4th scale degree. These have major 7ths because there is only ONE half step involved over a 7-note span starting from the 1st and the 4th note in the scale.

Fingerings.

7th intervals are too large to play on adjacent strings.
Following example shows how you play a minor 7th interval on 2 non-adjacent strings. This fingering is the same on the 2 sets of bass strings.

m7 all

Following guitar neck shows the fingering for minor 7th intervals on the 2 sets of non-adjacent treble strings.

m7 gb

Important!

Within the structure of a major scale;
The above fingerings are played on following scale degrees on the lower of the 2 strings:

  1. The 2nd note in the scale.
  2. The 3rd note in the scale.
  3. The 5th note in the scale.
  4. The 6th note in the scale.
  5. The 7th note in the scale.

The Major 7th.

The major 7th interval is a half step larger than the minor 7th.
This is a 7th interval because there are 7 letter names involved from the lower to the higher note.

The interval distance between the notes is 5 ½ steps, which ads up to 11 frets from note to note on 1 string.

maj7 staff

A major scale has TWO major 7th intervals:

This interval occurs in all the locations where there is only ONE half step involved over 7 notes.
There are only two locations in a scale where this occurs:

    1) On the 1st scale degree (In the key of C this is C-B, which has the E-F half step involved)
    2) On the 4th scale degree (In the key of C this is F-E, which has the B-C half step involved)

Fingerings.

Following example shows how you play a major 7th interval.
This is the fingering used on the 2 sets of non-adjacent bass strings.

maj7 all

Following guitar neck shows the fingering for major 7th intervals on the 2 sets of non-adjacent treble strings.

maj7 gb

Important!

Within the structure of a major scale;
The above fingerings are played on following scale degrees on the lower of the 2 strings:

  1. The 1st note in the scale.
  2. The 4th note in the scale.

To simplify the thought processes for improvising with 7th intervals, consider following approach:

  1. The major 7th interval occurs on the 1st and 4th scale degrees. Only 2 pieces of information. Focus on that those 2 scale notes, and…
  2. EVERYWHERE ELSE: use the other (minor 7th) fingering.

Here’s How You Practice This.

Solo over C major songs with 7th intervals, 1 string set at a time.
If your lowest note of the 2 notes you’re playing is C or F (the root and the 4th note in the scale), you will use a major 7th fingering on that note.
If the note you’re on is one of the other 5 notes (D, E, G, A, B) in a C major scale, you will use the minor 7th fingering.

Practice 3 minutes soloing on every string set.
This adds up to a 15 minute daily drill.

If you’re still unsure how to practice this: check the video in past blog on intervals to see a description of how to practice intervals.
The Study of Musical Intervals Part 2: The 2nd Interval

Next week we’ll cover a different topic to give you more time to work on all the interval information we covered today and in past blogs.
In 2 weeks we’ll have a look at the octaves.
This will be the final installment in this series about the theory of intervals.

Be on the look out for more blogs about everything guitar, music, songwriting and music education.

Meanwhile: give this blog a rating and give me your feedback in the comments section below. I believe everything can always be improved, and I gladly would implement your suggestions and ideas in this blog or the next.



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