PANIC MOMENTS – The Major Seventh Chord

The major seventh chord is a fairly stable sound, that often communicates arrival/resolution rather than having a “pull” towards another harmony.
So it is quite often the final chord in a sequence, and we can find ourselves with the job of perhaps adding a flourish or fill over it.
In any case the tricky thing about this chord is that the bass will play the root note and what defines the chord (the major seventh) will be higher up in the voicing, often right at the top.
If we, as a soloist playing a light, treble clef instrument like the flute, double the root note, the effect is limp, even unpleasant, so we need a solution that will give us motivic material that fits within the chord, without using that root note, which is fatally, the first note you read when playing through the music.

Do you know your pentatonics ?
Major pentatonics ?
Minor pentatonics ?

When you see a maj7 chord use the major pentatonic that starts out from the fifth of that chord.
Or (same notes), use the minor pentatonic that starts out from the third of the chord.

e.g. Cmaj7 – use a G major pentatonic (G is the fifth of the Cmaj7 chord)
or E minor pentatonic (E is the third of the C maj7 chord)

Want to know why?
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