7th Chords

Late in the process of writing the album, I knew I wanted to write a piece that included some particularly distinctive chords. We had begun learning about 7th chords late in the semester, so I began experimenting with some 7th chords, combining different types, with various bass notes to create a different type of chord progression. I kept experimenting with chords until I got a progression I liked. I then analyzed the progression to write it down. This is what the progression looks like, with the bass notes in bold.


C major 7

C, C, E, G, B


C# half-diminished 7

C# C#, E, G, B


Am (6)

C, C, E, A


C major 7 (6/5)

E, C, E, G, B


B major/minor 7 (6/5) no 5th

Eb, A, Eb, B


With this progression and the analysis thereof, I was able to apply my knowledge of inversions, seventh chords, and figured bass notation. However, the best and most exciting thing about applying chords not commonly found on the radio was the completely unique color. This song I had written was unlike anything else I had written, and a listener would certainly be able to tell. The song has a distinctly jazzy feel with some unpredictability added by more unstable chords. For example, the last chord in the progression contains both a tri-tone (from A to Eb) and the leading tone in C major (B). Both of these musical devices function to add instability and ultimately pull back to a more stable musical place. Because it’s the last chord before the progression repeats, I want this chord to pull strongly back to the first chord of the progression, in this case, the C major 7. The Eb pulls to the E, the A pulls to the G, and the B pulls to the C. Because all three notes in the last chord naturally pull back to notes in the first chord, the progression has a nice motion and flow to it. The unique flavor of this progression led me to introduce other new elements from in the instrumentation and production as well. I’m elated with the finished product, which is track 6 on the album, “Downtown Lights.”