Chord Functions
Understanding Chord Progressions

The subject of chord functions can get extremely involved. I have attempted to keep this lesson on a fairly basic level with a discussion of these types of chords: Major Seventh, Dominant Seventh, Minor Seventh, Minor-Major Seventh and Half-Diminished. (Diminished Seventh chords will be dealt with separately in a lesson all their own. As soon as I finish the lessons, I will put a link on this page.)

The functions of the major seventh chord are two: It can function as a I chord or tonic chord built on the root of the current key. It may also function as a IV chord (also called the subdominant. The IV chord is used to provide a temporary "resting point" and tends to want to go back to the I chord.

NOTE: If you want to extend this chord and you are using it as a IV chord, the eleventh must be sharp.

Minor-Major Seventh

This chord functions the same as the major seventh only it is used in a minor key. The eleventh may or may not be sharp, depending upon which scale you are using.

Dominant Seventh

The "7th" functions as a V chord. It wants to go back to the I chord. The dominant seventh chord is also an indicator of "key" in that it occurs ONLY as a V chord. in other words, if you see a "G7" chord, you immediately know that you are in the key of "C" (major or minor). T

The exception to this is the Blues Progression in which all of the chords can be dominant seventh.

Minor Seventh

This one functions as a ii, a iii, or a vi chord. These three chords all have a tendency to want to go to a chord a FOURTH HIGHER. For example, in the key of C, "Dm7" (ii chord) would go up a fourth to "G7" (V chord) which then would go back to "C" (I chord). This well-known chord progression is called a"ii V I" progression.

Half Diminished

The "minor seven flat five" chord functions most commonly as a ii chord in a minor key.

And there you have it--or at least the basics of it. Are you ready to try composing something of your own?

Special Note to Guitar Players: Don't Miss This Opportunity!

Are you ready to take your guitar playing to the next level? My friend, Alex Cortes has just released his new course, "Fretboard Essentials".

Get ready for some simple fretboard secrets that will knock you over. I highly recommend that you Visit Fretboard Essentials and give yourself the gift of EXTRAORDINARY guitar playing!

Leave "Chord Functions" and Go to "Music Theory Basics"

Go to "Absolutely Free Music Lessons"

New! Comments

We welcome your comments and ideas! Leave a comment in the box below.