ii-v-i of any kind using Am7?

Discussion in 'Guitar Lessons' started by DW4LesPaul, Oct 29, 2017.

  1. DW4LesPaul

    DW4LesPaul Senior Member

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    If there any possible ii-V-I progression using Am7 as the ii chord?
    (Not Am7b5)

    G major scale gets close:

    Am - D7 - GM7

    I only ask this becasue traditionally the ii chord is a m7 chord, and not a minor chord.

    And while I at it, what substitution chords can I use for the V chord that would be less dissonant and "smoother" sounding? (aside from the obvious D chord)
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2017
  2. DW4LesPaul

    DW4LesPaul Senior Member

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    You would think after all of these years, we'd have a way to change the title when editing!!! :(
     
  3. JonR

    JonR Senior Member

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    I don't understand the question.

    Am7 is the diatonic ii chord in G major - it's just Am with a diatonic 7th added - so Am7-D7-Gmaj7 is the standard ii-V-I in that key.
    You can leave the 7ths off if you want, but it sounds less smooth (IMO), not more smooth. The 7ths add a certain tension, of course, but provide smooth voice-leading.

    Also the V chord (without its 7th) is the least "dissonant" choice. Anything else would be chromatic, which most ears would regard as more dissonant (although that's maybe not quite the right definition of "dissonant").

    E.g., you could try Am7-Ab-G, see if you think that is "less dissonant". Ab7 would be the true "tritone sub" for G7, but it needs its 7th or it's not a real tritone sub.

    Alternatively, Am7-Abmaj7-G might do the trick. Abmaj7 is chromatic, and technically a "dissonance", but makes a "borrowed phrygian" bII chord. It shares a G note with the chords either side, which definitely contributes to "smoothness".

    That suggests you could also try Dsus4, or D7sus4, between Am7 and G, to preserve the G shared tone throughout.

    That is then edging towards a plagal (IV-I) cadence, not a V-I. I.e., C-G is a IV-I in G major, and D7sus4 is close to C/D, or partial Am7/D. D9sus4 (a complete Am7/D) is a combination of V and IV, or rather ii and V, blurring the distinction between them. That could be the sound you're looking for.
     
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  4. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    You're over thinking this. The ii chord in G is Am. Extended to a 7th chord that's Am7. It is totally acceptable, and "traditional", to do so.

    Any ii-V-I in G will work with either Am OR Am7, every time.

    :)
     
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  5. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    Try D6 - the added 6th note is B, which is in the target G chord, therefore there is no movement at all in that voice, which is as "smooth" as it can get.

    :)
     
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  6. Stoli

    Stoli Senior Member

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    Just noodling around here those various chord combinations sound sweet to me. Pretty sure that would make a nice verse, chorus, or bridge. Jon got way over my head (does not take much) in his last paragraph but I am sure that would sound good too.

    Since when we are delving into theory, when does the Major 7 chord work? I see it in some songs I mess with and they sound so cool and work in those tunes. I am thinking the C Major 7 in Melissa from the the ABB and the A Major 7 and D Major 7 in Time from the Floyd.
     
  7. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    Short answer - anytime you feel it sounds nice ;) If you have a regular maj chord, try sub-ing a maj7 : if it sounds nice, go for it.

    Slightly longer answer - The strict diatonic places to use them are on the I & IV chords of a major key, or bIII & bVI of the relative minor.

    So, in C you can use Cmaj7 & Fmaj7, and in the relative minor key of A minor you can also use those two.

    In your examples, the Amaj7 > Dmaj7 in Time is I > IV in A.

    EDIT : My memory was slightly off, the change in Time is the other way around - Dmaj7 > Amaj7, so that's IV > I in A. My bad. /EDIT

    Melissa takes it one step further : the song is in E major, but that Cmaj7 would be bVI to the key of E minor. So it's a borrowed chord from the parallel minor.

    Sounds more complicated than it is...

    ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
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  8. JonR

    JonR Senior Member

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    In rock, maj7s are rare, but are used for their special "wistful" character. As well as the examples you mention, there's a great one in RHCP's Under The Bridge, where - after the line "lonely as I am, together we cry", they hit an Emaj7 and hold it for two whole bars. They know that's the right chord, and they really milk it! (It's almost like the think they invented it... )

    0:46 here:


    My favourite demo of their use for that "sweet melancholy" or "nostalgic" effect is J J Cale's Magnolia - it's Fmaj7 and Cmaj7 alternating most of the way through (aside from the bridge):


    In JAZZ, however, it's different. They're not really interested in this kind of "pop sentimental" effect. 7th chords are the standard form in jazz, so a I or IV chord will always be maj7 by default. They might not always play the maj7 - but usually they do.
    The only time they'd avoid the maj7 is when the melody note is the root of the chord (as it often is at the end of a song), in which case the maj7 clashes with it, and can put a singer off. In those cases, they'd add a 6th to the chord instead. (Jazz musicians can't stand a plain triad! :D)
     
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  9. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    That puts me in mind of "Old Friends" by Simon & Garfunkel, which uses the same IVma7 > Imaj7 (though it doesn't remain there), and also lyrically addresses nostalgia & melancholy :



    Actually, since I edited my previous post to get the chord change in the correct order :laugh2: Floyd's "Time" also uses the IVmaj7 > Imaj7, and also concerns itself with the passage of, er, time. Less melancholy, perhaps, but a similarity nonetheless.

    But the tune that I associate most with that sound is a 20th Century "classical" piece, Erik Satie's Gymnopedie # 1 :



    Starts with Gmaj7 > Dmaj7, IV > I

    I orchestrated that at college, & got to conduct the orchestra playing it. I'd never been so nervous in my life! (They were baffled by the jazz ride cymbal pattern I superimposed across the barline ;) )
     
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  10. Stoli

    Stoli Senior Member

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    Thanks for the explanations and samples. Under the Bridge is on my list of songs to try learn at some point. I thought of a couple of other songs that I mess with that have the Major 7 chords. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed uses the C Major 7 played at the seventh fret along with an A minor and B minor and that song is in A minor I think. One of These Nights from the Eagles also uses the C Major 7 played at the same spot along with a G Major 7 in the chorus. Most music I mess with is I guess rock, pop, or blues and I do not see those chords often. Seems like the Last Resort from the Eagles uses some Major 7 chords.

    Seems they can be sort of relaxed in some songs or a change in attitude in other places.
     
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  11. DW4LesPaul

    DW4LesPaul Senior Member

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    Just wanted to agree with what HUW said here about sounding more difficult than it is. Sure,I'dlike to know theory like Jon and HUW, but when you can simply make a slid-able maj7 shape, and simply try it, instead of spending hours memorizing which keys go with which others in relatives etc., that is sometimes the way to go. Two easy maj 7 shapes we can use all over the fretboard, which I am sure you know.
    maj7-01.JPG maj7-02.JPG
     
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  12. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    America built a career on maj7s.
     
  13. Stoli

    Stoli Senior Member

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    I have noodled with those some and there are some easy open chord shapes too for C, D, and A Major 7. I think they sound good both ways but sliding them up and down the neck in those CAGED shapes is cool too. Just really nice sounding chords.
     
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  14. Arthur

    Arthur Senior Member

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    Hey man,
    I'm not sure I understand the first part of the question as Am7 is the ii chord in G major, every note in an Am7 is in G major A, C, E, G. You typically use a m7b5 in a minor 2-5-1 progression, for example you'd have Am7b5 - D7 - Gm7 if you were playing in G minor.
    As for the smoother transitions on the dominant chord there are a number of things you can do, I'm not sure how well versed you are in altered harmony but that's where all the good stuff is. A cool trick you can use is what is called a tritone substitution where you play a dominant seven a tritone above the chord you were just playing, for example instead of playing a D7 you would play an Ab7 so your progression would be Am7 - Ab7 - Gmaj7 which as you can see just moves down in semitones in the bass which is a nice movement.
    You can do heaps with the dominant chord though it's really where you can go wild! Try playing around with the b5, #5, b9 and #9 they give you some really cool sounds Playing Am7 - Ab7#5 - Gmaj7 would give you a movement down in semitones on the top part of the chord (as well as the bottom) if you were playing the chords like this 5-555- , 4-344- , 3 - 433-
    I hope this is kind of helpful if you have any further questions let mw know
     
  15. DW4LesPaul

    DW4LesPaul Senior Member

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    That was my misinterpretation.

    I appreciate your tritone explanation. I'm playing with it now.
     

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