The V7 Chord is the only chord that has complete freedom in the theory of music. RULES OF THE V7 CHORD……..IT HAS NOT RULES
The V7 chord supports all tones chromatically, which means, a V7 chord can be used with any melody tone. The melody does not have to have any tones of the chord, in fact, in jazz or advanced arranging, we strive for these “color tones”. This is the only chord that can that supports all extensions chromatically.
Using the V7 chord as a substitution chord. A substitution Chord is a chord that is either inserted into music or replaces a chord in music. Why? Because we want to fill in our music with interesting harmony, color tones, or just fill-in empty spaces.
RULE…….Any chord may be preceded by its’ V7 chord. The V7 is the easiest substitution to learn and use.
EXAMPLE of using the V7 chord as a substitution Chord.
Here is the original music: CM7 | Dm7 | FM7| CM7|
Now let’s add the V7 substitution chords: CM7 | A7 Dm7| C7 FM7| G7 CM7
Now here’s the fun! The V7 chords can be preceded by it’s V7 chords. CM7 | E7 A7 Dm7| G7 C7 FM7| D7 G7 CM7
How do I use these chords? 1. These chords are perfect for empty repeat bars moving back to the verse or into the chorus. Use a nesting of V7 chords to go back to the IM7 chord. Example: You have 2 repeat bars going into CM7 chord in measure 1, use E7 A7| D7 G7. 2. Add V7 chords under the melody. This will also fill in measures that only have 1 or 2 chords plus will give you that jazz sound. Example. let’s play Twinkle Little Star
MELODY: | C C G G | A A G- | F F E E | D D C |
CHORDS: |C— |F-G-| F-C-| G-C-| Now let’s add V7 substitution chords:
CHORD: C- G7 C7| F G7 C C7| F G7 C A7| D7 G7 CM7-|
Notice in measure 2 I added the G7 chord and the melody is on the note A. This is an example of changing the chord to get a jazz sound, the melody note A is the 9th of G. This is what we strive for in arranging and in jazz, using color tones instead of the 1-3-5 of the chord. 3. Improvising on the V7 chord: Since the V7 chord is the only chord that supports all extensions, 9th’s, 9-, 10-, 11, 11+, 12-, 13, 13+, you can improvising on any note of choice. In Classical Music it is the same, composers can use any melody tone against the V7 chord.
Here’s a couple of tips for playing the V7 chord in the left hand: 1. As a comping chord play F, A FLAT, B D (7, 9-, 10, 12) OR F, G,A, B, D (7, 8, 9, 10, 12) 2. As a Tri-Tone Quartal, (great for blues) F, B, E (7, 10, 13)
This article is quite simplified, but I have found if one can get an overall picture first, then we can back up and learn step by step. The V7 chord is part of our lessons on adding substitution chords to arranging and jazz piano lessons at our free piano lessons page.