Six- and seven-note chords

Six- And Seven-Note Chords

In this article you will be introduced to six- and seven-note chords, which are great tools for making your music more interesting.

If you don't know any music theory, this article may be difficult for you to understand. Consider reading our article on music theory first.

We also suggest that you start by reading our article on Four- And Five-Note Chords.

Six-Note Chords

With six- and seven-note chords, it is actually fairly uncommon that all of the notes are played. In the examples presented in this article, we will tell you which notes you can refrain from playing in each chord.

11 Chords

In 11 chords, we add a minor seventh, a major ninth and an eleventh, which is essentially a perfect fourth raised by an octave, to the triad. The addition of the minor seventh and major ninth is implied in the name, even if it is not explicitly stated. It is actually fairly common to not play the third in 11 chords. This may seem counter intuitive, as the third is often the note which tells us whether the chord is major or minor, but when played it tends to create a dissonance with the eleventh. For this reason, it is often omitted.

For example, a C11 chord has the notes: C - E - G - B♭ - D - F, i.e. the tonic note, the major third, the fifth, the minor seventh, the major ninth and the eleventh, but the E is not played. A Cm11 chord has the notes: C - E♭ - G - B♭ - D - F, but since we don't play the third, this chord will sound exactly like the C11 chord.

Seven-Note Chords

13 Chords

In 13 chords, we add a minor seventh, a major ninth, an eleventh and a major thirteenth to the triad. In other words, all seven notes of the scale are present in this chord! However, it is most common to not play the fifth, the ninth and the eleventh, as doing so often sounds messy.

For example, a C13 chord technically has the notes: C - E - G - B♭ - D - F - A, but as we tend to omit the fifth, the ninth and the eleventh when playing it, the notes instead become: C - E - B♭ - A, i.e. the tonic note, the major third, the minor seventh and the major thirteenth. Similarly, a Cm13 chord will be played with the notes: C - E♭ - B♭ - A.

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