What kind of chords are used in jazz? Why does jazz use 7th chords?

9165 what kind of chords are used in jazz why does jazz use 7th chords

Jazz music, known for its sophisticated harmonies and intricate melodies, often employs a wide range of chord types, including major and minor chords, diminished and augmented chords, and dominant 7th chords. The use of 7th chords in jazz can be traced back to the blues, which formed the basis of early jazz styles.

A dominant 7th chord is a chord consisting of a root note, a major third, a perfect fifth, and a minor seventh. These chords create a strong sense of tension and dissonance, which is a hallmark of jazz harmony. The use of 7th chords allows for a greater range of expression and can add a sense of sophistication to a piece of music.

In jazz, 7th chords are often used to create a sense of forward momentum and drive, propelling the music forward. They are also frequently used to create a sense of instability, which can be resolved through the use of other chord changes. This sense of instability is often exploited in jazz to create a feeling of tension and release, which can add a great deal of interest and excitement to a piece of music.

In addition to their use in creating tension and dissonance, 7th chords are also frequently used in jazz to add color and depth to a piece of music. The additional notes in a 7th chord can create a rich and complex sound, which can add a great deal of interest and variety to a piece of music.

Another reason that jazz musicians often utilize 7th chords is their versatility. They can be used in a variety of ways, such as being played in root position, in inversions, or as substitutions for other chords. This versatility allows for a great deal of creativity and expression on the part of the performer.

In conclusion, the use of 7th chords is a central aspect of jazz harmony, serving to create a sense of tension, dissonance, forward momentum, and depth in the music. The versatility and expressive potential of 7th chords have made them an essential tool for jazz musicians, helping to create the rich and complex harmonies that are a hallmark of the genre.


  • “Jazz Theory and Practice” by Richard Lawn and Jeffrey Hellmer
  • “The Jazz Theory Book” by Mark Levine
  • “Jazz Harmony” by George Russell