Day 167: Why We’re Even Doing This

Congratulations! We’ve made it to Friday in the first week of the Jazz Guitar crash course! We’ve gone over what makes up the major 7, dominant 7, and minor 7 chords, and we’ve gone over certain chord variations.

To really drive home the point, let’s talk about intervals and scales in more detail. The terms “major” and “minor” can refer to scales. In music theory, a scale is an agreed upon sequence of notes. We talked about the C major scale, C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C… In other keys, such as D or E, the intervals will be the same as the C scale: tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone, and so on… The guitar is designed so that each fret represents a semitone, so it’s possible and not uncommon for people to learn the scales on guitar without knowing the names for the notes within the scale. If you memorize the tone/semitone sequence, you can start your scale on any note and figure out the major scale for it. Since I do want to learn the names of the notes within the scale, I really have to drill and memorize each scale. However, we’re focused on chords this week so I’ll settle for memorizing the notes in the chords. The major 7 chords will always be intervals 1-3-5-7 on the major scale. The dominant 7 chords will always be intervals 1-3-5-7b with a flat 7th interval.

The C minor scale, C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C… has a slightly different sequence. The minor scale goes tone, semitone, tone, tone, semitone, tone, and so on… Although the intervals for a minor 7 chord are the same 1-3-5-7 as the major 7 chord, we’re working with a different scale here. (If you thought that was easy, there are way more scales than only major and minor!)

Memorizing the interval numbers, major & minor scale tone/semitone sequences, and where the root notes provide an excellent starting point for playing guitar in general. With this much knowledge, you can play tons of songs, which is arguably the main reason for learning an instrument. But why stop there? We’re going at least one level deeper and trying to give names to the frets so we can spot where these scales overlap. Even if we’re only exploring the first 5 frets of each string (plus the open strings or the “zero frets”), knowing these basic chords help us name these frets and help us to form a mental map of the shapes that make up chords and the patterns contained in scales.

We’ve covered a lot in these 5 days. If you’ve been keeping up with the reading, you’ve learned quite a bit of intermediate music theory so give yourself a pat on the back! Consider these chord charts and tables your consolation prize for doing the reading… Just remember, there’s no shortcut for practicing so make sure you drill and memorize these chords and notes!

CM7 X32000 C E G B E
DM7 X54222 D F# A C# F#
EM7 021100 E B D# G# B E
FM7 102210 F A E A C E
GM7 320002 G B D G B D
AM7 X02120 A E G# C E
BM7 X2434X B F# A# D#
CM7 X32000 C E G B E

C7 X32310 C E A# C E
D7 X5453X D F# C D
E7 020100 E B D G# B E
F7 131211 F C D# A C F
G7 320001 G B D G B F
A7 X02020 A E G C# E
B7 X21202 B D# A B F#
C7 X32310 C E A# C E

Cm7 X35343 C G Bb Eb G
Dm7 X53535 D C F C A
Em7 022030 E B E G D E
Fm7 131111 F C Eb Ab
Gm7 353333 G D C Bb D G
Am7 X02010 A E G C E
Bm7 X20202 B D A B Gb
Cm7 X35343 C G Bb Eb G

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