With all the characters present in this chord, it would be easy to quickly assume that it is one of those fancy chords beyond the reach of the casual or beginner guitarist.
However, though its implementation is often found in more Jazz-based music, or genres with a keener and/or more adept sense of harmonic complexity, this chord is relatively easy to wrap one’s head around.
Furthermore, contrary to its simplicity, it can revitalise the harmonic palette of a song compositionally and can instil your improvisations and melodic conjuring with a sometimes-necessary dose of magic and mysticism.
What Is a Gmaj7 Chord?
Where the Minor 7th chord is simply a minor chord with an added 7th, and where a 7th chord is a major chord with an added 7th, the major 7th, by contrast, is a major chord with an augmented 7th. This translates to their being a note in the chord that is almost its octave, shy of this label by being one semitone below. It is in this slight harmonic dissonance that the chord’s trademark sound resides, and if given a place in your own musical explorations it will reside there too.
Formulaically, this chord will look like so: 1 – 3 – 5 – #7. In the case of the Gmaj7 chord specifically, in applying this formula, we are left with the notes: G – B – D – F#. It is not just the augmented 7th’s interactions with the tonic, but also the way it communicates with all of the other notes in the chord that make it such a vital addition to your sonic palette: being the 5th to B, and with the D being an augmented 5th to it, there is a variegated equilibrium of harmonic tension, give and take, within the chord as it hangs suspended, without any other chords relations that is. This only gets more interesting when implemented in the construction or performance of a song.
How to Play the Gmaj7 Chord on Guitar?
There are two central ways of playing this chord, that is without inverting the chord in any way:
- The first will be familiar to all those already comfortable with the open chord G. Here, we will simply be removing the 3rd B that the index finger usually plays, and instead putting said finger to use on the high E string, playing the eponymous major 7th. The rest of the harmony, the 3rd, 5th, and octave G, are covered by the open strings D, G, & B. It is important that, for now, we use the pad of the middle finger to mute the A string. Eventually, you are welcome to experiment and introduce further extended dissonances to your chords, but for now I would encourage you to master one thing at a time.
- The second method here outlined will be more familiar to those coming from a jazz background, as it makes use of similarly abstracted barre chord shapes. The index finger, here, will be handling the root on the 3rd fret of the E string, the middle finger the octave 5th on the 3rd fret of the B, the ring finger the major 7th on the 4th fret of the D, and finally the pinky will be managing the major 3rd, below the ring finger on the 4th fret of the G string. Here, as with the open shape previously, you will want initially to mute the A string, which it would be difficult not to do in this instance, owing to the exacerbated chord shape.
Once you are familiar with one, I would encourage you to try learning the other, as it can’t hurt to have more tools in your creative belt. For an added challenge why not try playing and then arpeggiating these chords over the drone attached below, a vital course of study in getting down to the bare elements of the chord and what makes them tick.
These chords, of course, rarely ever live in a vacuum for us to ogle at. We are far more likely to appreciate the innards of these harmonic tools when listening to our favourite music, so it is in this spirit that I encourage you to go out and seek this chord, or even transpose it elsewhere and find a song that fits it. Choose a song that you know that begins with a G and see what changing this to Gmaj7 does to the rest of the chord changes. Experiments like this help us forge our own way musically through intuition, engaging the brain more than any amount of reading could ever.
FAQs Gmaj7 Chord
Almost entirely, yes. At their root is the chord we ought all to be familiar with, the major chord. Both are formed of that root, the major 3rd, and perfect 5th. The crucial difference is in the 7th of each. A G7 contains the seventh degree of the diatonic scale, whereas a Gmaj7 contains this same degree but augmented.
At its simplest it’s a G7 chord with its 7th augmented (sharpened). In the case of G, this looks like: G – B – D – F#, the 1st, 3rd, 5th, & augmented 7th.
Making any maj7 chord is relatively straightforward, following the formula of the 1st, 3rd, 5th, & augmented 7th, which can be used in any key whatsoever, provided that it is major.