Red! Blue! Purple! Black! (Wait, thats not a colour… is it?) Light brown with a hint of rose red! (for the painters)
Everyone loves colour! Children’s drawings, iPhone cases, or your desktop of that lush nature scene that brings you to Nirvana, colour is everywhere.
But what does it mean when we say “colourful chords”?
What Are Colourful Chords?
Colour in music simply means different sounds that create different feelings within the listener. A minor chord sounds sad, a Major chord sounds happy, a diminished chord sounds tense, etc.
Bringing new sounds by way of new chords and licks and scales, brings new colour to your playing, giving your music a wider range of emotions it gives off when listened to. This makes your music sound generally better, more artistic, and helps you to express yourself more.
Lets dive into the world of musical colour, starting with Major 7th, Minor 7th, and Dominant 7th bar chords.
Why You Should Expand Your Chord Knowledge
Expanding your chord knowledge is one core element you can add more colour to your playing. Simply learning new chords and using them either in place or alongside chords you know is the way to do this.
We’ll start with 7th bar chords. These are bar chords with the 7th note included.
There are 3 common types of 7th bar chords: Major 7th, Minor 7th, and Dominant 7th. Each has a unique colour, or sound, that relates to its basic triad (Major 7th -> Major triad, Minor 7th -> Minor triad) (*there is no dominant triad because a dominant chord is built from a major triad + a minor 7th note).
How To Play Maj7 & Min7 bar chords
Here’s how to play each chord, rooted on the 6th, 5th, and 4th strings:
6th String Root:
5th string root:
4th string root:
They are formed from adding a 7th note to the basic triad. Here’s how:
Major 7th chord = Major triad (1, 3, 5) + Major 7th (7)
Minor 7th chord = Minor triad (1, b3, 5) + Minor 7th (b7)
Dominant 7th chord = Major triad (1, 3, 5) + Minor 7th (b7)
To get you going, here’s a couple of chord progressions using these chords:
DMaj7 – Emin7 – F#min7 – Emin7
Amin7 – D7 – GMaj7
AMaj7 – G7 – BMaj7 – G7
Now go and colour your playing! Be the sparkly colourful being you’re meant to be!
Or maybe you’re a dark, sinister being, brooding in the shadows. Who knows! Either way, these chords will help. That, or wear some rainbow socks when you play.
Want to learn more? Check out this post on Chord Tone Soloing, teaching you how to solo over any chord you may play/ be playing over.