The diatonic seventh chords in major and minor keys were already discussed in my Chord Progressions lesson. That discussion was based off of a classical musical perspective. As we mentioned last week, diatonic triads are viewed through a slightly different perspective in gospel music. However, this is not true with seventh chords. Since seventh chords contain four pitches, and they can contain more when upper extensions are added, they are more complex harmonic structures. The addition of one pitch can change the identity of a chord. I give several examples of this in the video. One is the fact that a Cmaj9 chord can be seen as an Em7 once the pitch “C” is omitted. For this reason, the typical chord substitutions that are used in gospel diatonic triads are not seen as such a standard when dealing with seventh chords. Beside this difference, the same number system is used, identifying each chord with its corresponding bass note.
The dominant seventh chord is able to be ornamented with the greatest variety of upper extensions. This is due to the dissonant nature of the chord which comes out of the fact that the 3rd and 7th form an interval of a tritone. Often in gospel music, the flatted 13th, raised 9th and other altered upper extensions are added to this chord. However, the musical example in this lesson lends itself to more consonant forms of the dominant seventh chord.
The best way to acquaint yourself with common chord progressions is to listen to the progressions used in the music on your playlists. Listen first to the bass line and use it to determine the roots of the chords. Then listen for the upper tones to establish the quality of the chords. In addition, experiment on either a guitar or piano forming various chord progressions. Listen to the character of each progression and the relationships between the different chords. Expand your knowledge by developing strategies for connecting progressions. These strategies can be used to determine the chord changes of any gospel song that you are trying to learn to play. Most of these songs will contain seventh chords, upper extensions, substitutions and other advanced techniques. We will cover all of these techniques in future videos. However, any song can be boiled down to a simplified form using only triads (as demonstrated by the example song in the video). This is the 1st step for entering the beginning stages of gospel piano playing.
This Learning Music With Ray video discusses the diatonic seventh chords use in gospel piano playing. It is a study in the typical harmonic patterns used when traveling from one chord to the next in gospel music. I provide a detailed illustration of the diatonic seventh chords, found in both major and minor keys, from both a classical and gospel perspective. I also discuss the color tones and upper extensions that can be added to these seventh chords. Finally, I provide an example of an original gospel song written out in both plain seventh chords and also seventh chords with upper extensions. I give a chord by chord analysis of the song and demonstrate how the diatonic seventh chords discussed earlier in the lesson can be applied to the performance of the song.