A Simple Guide to Learning the E7 Chord on a Piano
Piano chords aren’t just triads. More complex variations add extra depth to your playing. A seventh chord, for example, uses the triad plus the lowered seventh interval.
These chords help a melody progress smoothly from one tonal base to another. For example, a dominant E7 chord will make a smooth progression to an A chord as this is a perfect fourth interval, which sounds very natural to the ear .
Three Steps to Learn the E7 Chord
A seventh chord uses the triad, which is the first, third, and fifth note of the scale, plus a lowered seventh note.
There are different ways to play a seventh chord, known as an inversion, but we’re going to take a look at the root chord, which always starts on the named scale note.
Find the Notes
Add the seventh note, remembering to lower it a step. You’ll know if you’ve forgotten to lower it, as the seventh next to the octave interval of the root note (E) will be discordant.
So, the seventh note on the E major chord is D#. Lower this half a step to a D. When you play the triad with the D#, you’ve got your E7 chord.
The same formula works in every major seventh chord: find your triad, and add the seventh note lowered by half a step to finish the chord.
Where to Place Your Right Hand
You need to find the right placement for your fingers when you play a seventh chord to avoid getting in a tangle later on when you introduce other chords.
For your right hand, find the root note. In this case, it’s the E. On the keyboard, the E is the first white key after a set of two black keys.
Place your thumb on the E key. Next, use your index finger to find the following triad note, which is a G#. That’s the first black key up from where your thumb is placed.
Your middle finger should then be placed on the B key, which is the first white key after the group of three black ones.
Finally, it’s time to add the seventh. Use your little finger to make sure you don’t get finger cramp, and place it on the D key, which is the white key between the set of two black keys.
You’ve just played a dominant E7 chord!
Now you know the notes to look for it’s easy to work out where to put your left hand on the keys to form a dominant E7 in the lower octaves.
Work backward from your right-hand placement: your little finger starts on the E, then your middle finger should be on the G#, the index finger is on B and finally your thumb is placed on D.
How to Practice the E7 Chord
Once you’re comfortable with finding the notes in the chord on their own, try introducing some simple exercises. This will improve your muscle memory to help you find the chord with ease when you’re playing a piece of music.
Simple exercises include:
- Keeping the chord shape and finding it in each octave
- Playing each note as part of an arpeggio practice
- Moving between the E7 chord and other chords to recall the shape and placement.
When you can quickly and comfortably find and play the E7 chord, it’s time to build on your repertoire.
The more chords you learn, the quicker you’ll be able to play advanced music so check out the c7 chord piano!