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#1112756 - 10/22/04 07:27 AM Omitting the 5th?
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
My Alfreds book says that in the V7 chord, the 5th is usually omitted. Is that just for beginners? I would have no idea how to finger a 4-note chord. Thanks.
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#1112757 - 10/22/04 08:30 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
devils4ever Offline
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Registered: 04/12/04
Posts: 477
Loc: northwest NJ
Not when I play them.
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#1112758 - 10/22/04 10:09 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Thanks for that very insightful post, devils4ever. Very helpful. I'm glad you took the time to reply.
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#1112759 - 10/22/04 10:50 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
Inversion is the main trick to fingering the chords, esp the 4 note chords. With a little experimentation, you can find inversions so that 1) the four note chords are easy to finger, and 2) all chords in the one piece are all pretty much in the same area of the keyboard, involving common keys to some degree, so that very little hand movement is necessary from one to another.
It is all about inversions. The method book V7 chords are common inversons, but not the only inversion.

As to leaving one note out, 1) I think the rule is that you can play popular music any way you wish, and 2) my teacher says which you might leave out (3rd, 5th) sort of depends on what notes are left in the melody, but I dont really get that selection part yet myself. But I'm finding fingering is not a big issue with the proper inversion, so I think omission then probably comes down to other issues, like to reduce muddiness, etc.

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#1112760 - 10/22/04 03:18 PM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
This might help. Triads have three tones which make the chord. Seventh chords have four tones. It is certainly possible to play all four and it is very common. In the basic chord progression--I IV I V7 I--the fifth of the chord is usually omitted. Probably to avoid too heavy a sound. But composers certainly use, and frequently, all of the tones. It's just a traditional thing to omit the fifth from basic uses of the chord--usually elementary material.

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#1112761 - 10/22/04 04:57 PM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Thanks for your replies. I now have a better understanding. \:\)
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#1112762 - 10/22/04 05:47 PM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
Jerry, it may be rushing things if you are not this far along yet (and I am a beginner too, just barely getting here), but if speaking of popular music, you probably would not play most chord symbols in root positon. Too awkward.

For an example of the idea of chord inversion to make fingering easier and to minimize amount of hand movement, consider Edelweiss, with the following chords in first column, but which as one choice can be played inverted as shown in second part:

Bb - Bb D F (not inverted)
F7 - A C Eb F (keep thumb on same F, reach one key lower with other fingers)
Bb again
Eb - Bb Eb G (keep pinky on same Bb, reach slightly up to next key on two fingers)
Bb again
Gm7 - Bb D F G (same as Bb, but just hold both FG with same thumb)
Cm7 - Bb C Eb G (same as Eb above, just add C, finger 4 is already over it in Eb position)

This is a great simplification. The left hand hardly moves much, almost no hunting necessary. You work it out in advance to select these inversions with that goal in mind. In this case, it is much easier than if you tried to play all of the root positions as:
Eb as Eb G Bb
F7 as F A C EB, or
Gm7 as G Bb D F, or
Cm7 as C Eb G Bb,
etc.

Simpy too awkward, too much hunting and movement.
This really helps the 7 chord fingering problem.
That is what the book V7 and V4 chords do too, for the same purpose.

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#1112763 - 10/22/04 10:16 PM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Playing the simplified F7 chord (for example) makes a darker (lower) sound since the F is a whole octave lower. How do I know if the music calls for the "higher chord" or the "lower (inverted) chord" if all it says in the score is F7?

Thanks!
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#1112764 - 10/23/04 12:49 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
It's not quite an octave, but nearly so. I know what you mean, but I think my music teacher would say "an octave lower than what?" \:\) There is nothing about the chord symbol that says to play it any place in particular, all we know is that the symbol is some F chord, and there are many F chords. We could for example play everything in both hands an octave higher. We may be playing open chords instead of block chords. The chord symbol is quite vague as compared to written notes, but popular music offers us that choice how to interpret it, per our whim.

This song Edelwiess is in the key of Bb, so the F7 is V7 or a Dominant 7th, which is A Eb F (if no 5th at C). Specifically, in this key Bb, the V7 you asked about at first is also your same octave lower too (almost an octave), exactly the same keys and position, but just with omitted 5th. The V7 is the same inversion, and inversion is its origin, what it is about.

I could stop there, but instead of omitting the 5th on that same inverted F7 chord, we could omit the lowest A (which is the 3rd), and it sounds higher and is easy to finger. Or invert that A up above the rest of the chord and it sounds higher. Or invert the A and C up above it. Or invert the A and C and Eb up above it, which is then the same F7 chord that I think you refer to an octave higher... if we might like that better, and can finger it in play (it is a pretty good jump for a beginner to then find the right 4 keys). But again, if you buy V7, it is built just under root position, so it is this same (almost) octave lower too, the same A key down there.

But we can play popular music anyway we wish, anyway we decide we like it. The point is, we can make it much easier, at will, as there are numerous inverted chord options, and some of them help to simplify it. So where I started, then in this way, the four note 7th chords are really not much problem to finger. We probably dont play the root position.

How to do that selection well (and musically) is a huge subject that I dont know yet, I'm still seeing only the first glimmer of the light at the end of the tunnel \:\) But I am sure that inversion is the first step.

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#1112765 - 10/23/04 12:50 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210

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#1112766 - 10/23/04 12:56 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210

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#1112767 - 10/23/04 12:57 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
Man! Sorry, its late. I think I must be replying instead of edit. Then thats wrong, so I do it again and again trying to fix it \:\)

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#1112768 - 10/23/04 08:34 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Lightnin-

Thanks a lot! It's actually starting to make sense! Some of the confusion might be because I am getting ahead of myself in wanting to play pieces that show a chord name above the measure (hymns, popular songs, etc.), while still learning the chord as written notes in my Alfred's book. I am learning to identify the chord by written notes, and also to know the chord on the keyboard by written name in the score. I should probably stick to the written notes for now, as I am still building a foundation of learning to read (and play) notes. It's just hard to contain my desire to jump into larger things when I have only a glimpse of how they work.
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#1112769 - 10/23/04 10:42 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
Yeah, I understand completely, as I am only at 12 months, I was exactly there yesterday. Chords seemed a daunting hopeless confusion to me at first, but as I go along, more and more makes sense, and it may even be possible someday now. \:\)

The Alfreds G7 is just V7 in key of C, which is just an inverted V chord. I have learned now that chord inversions are not a frill, but instead their necessary purpose is to make the chords easier to finger (find some other way to do it that we can finger), and to group all chords tighter together in one smaller area of the keyboard, reducing hand movements. Play the chord that can be played.

I was puzzled about "what exactly is this G7 thing?" at first. I dont know when Alfreds might clarify it, but V7 is just the normal 7 chord with root at 5th note of the key scale, but with top three notes inverted down. And the V7 concept omits the 5th, to reduce muddiness I assume.

A way to play the V7 chord in any key, exactly the same thing, is to play the 4th and 5th note of the key scale, plus the one key next below the scale root (black or white). Same result as the inversion, V7 is B F G in key of C, or A Eb F in key of Bb. So this V7 is always inverted down, from the chord root down to below the scale root. The conventional top three notes are simply inverted down, and the 5th omitted. This result happens to always extend 6 notes lower than the root of the non-inverted chord.

This is often an easier fingering opportunity, and it also gets it out of the way of the right hand.

If we try to play non-inverted F7, conventionally defined as F A C Eb (your octave higher case I think), then this extends up into the melody right hand, which in this case (Edelwiess) often wants to play a C melody note with the F7 chord. Fortunately, Edelweiss plays the higher C, because it is in this chord and could interfere. C is the chord 5th, we could omit it, but we might still tangle fingers. Edelweiss doesnt, but this is the general case of the real octave situation, we often must play the chord lower anyway. G7 works OK to do this, and this is why we use it, but F and A are often problem chords in this regard too, without V7 inversion.

Key of C, inverted V7 is not too low of a sound.
Key of Bb, assuming NOT the Bb at middle C, then inverted V7 is getting pretty low. But if we dont like the sound of it, we are free to play something else, some other variation.

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#1112770 - 10/23/04 02:42 PM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Lightnin-

Sounds like you've got a pretty good grasp for only 12 months. I'm at 7 months. I've bookmarked this thread so I can come back to it as I get more immersed in chords & chord inversions. Thanks for all your help!
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#1112771 - 10/23/04 08:24 PM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Hububer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/29/03
Posts: 149
Loc: Virginia
A lot of this depends on what you are playing and the style. I usually play with a jazzy sound so most (not all) 7th chords I play as open 9th chords using either 1-7-9-3 or 1-3-7-9. M7th and m7th as 1-3-5-7 or open 1-7-3-5. Typically depends on the location of the melody note and how low the chord goes. You don't want it to sound muddy and using open chords will help that a lot.

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#1112772 - 10/24/04 08:36 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Jerry Luke opens his V7 chord enquiry - Alfred's omission of the 5th - with "I would have no idea how to finger a 4-note chord".

Lightnin is on target with his omission logic "to reduce muddiness".

4-note chords invariably indulge over-statement.
The composer's skill (ie Mozart) can be measured in terms of athletic spareness - a case of not "what you put in" but "what you leave out".

The 2-note chord is equivalent to a carefully selected noun.
Any intermediary chord note can be regarded as a qualifying adjective.

However, superfluous adjectives detract from the impact of the noun.

Less is more.

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#1112773 - 10/24/04 09:28 PM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
btb-

Thanks for the noun/adjective analogy. It makes perfect sense and adds a new dimension of understanding to the whole chord thing. A new way to look at it, if you will.
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#1112774 - 10/25/04 08:52 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
WhitingH&G Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 19
Loc: Mid-Atlantic
One reason why the 5th is often omitted in 7 chords is because it is the least "important" note in the chord. The 3 primary types of 7 chords are Major, Minor, and Dominant. A Major 7 has a major 3rd, perfect 5th, and major 7th. A Minor 7 has a minor 3rd, perfect 5th, and minor 7th. A Dominant 7 has a major 3rd, perfect 5th, and minor 7th. The character or each of these chords is determined by the relationship between the 3rd and 7th (major-major, minor-minor, major-minor). The 5th remains perfect in each.
If you study jazz, you'll learn that one of the most common chord progressions is ii(m7)-V(7)-I(M7). When you start doing "three note voicings" where the root is played in the left hand and the other notes are played in the right hand, it becomes much easier to move through this progression if the 5th is left out. All you have to do is remember to lower the 7th a half step when you move to the next chord.

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#1112775 - 10/26/04 08:30 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
devils4ever Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/04
Posts: 477
Loc: northwest NJ
Jerry Luke,

Sorry for the terse response. My original intent was to put a smiley face at the end of the sentence and then more fully respond in a subsequent post. My poor attempt at a little humor. Anyway, I see that this subject has been fully discussed.

Just remember, when it comes to pop music, there is no right or wrong way. It's whatever sounds best. You must use your ears.
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#1112776 - 10/26/04 10:25 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
devils4ever-

No problem. I didn't mean to sound so snotty in my reply (well, ok, maybe a little) \:\) and I appreciate you taking the time to clear up the misunderstanding. And it does appear that this subject has been thoroughly treated now, and I'm grateful for all the help I receive on this forum. \:\)
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#1112777 - 10/29/04 05:35 PM Re: Omitting the 5th?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
Following up on what Whiting said, if you're going to leave out a note of a 7th chord, it should be the fifth. You need the root note, as that is the basis for the chord. You need the third, because that helps determine the quality of the chord, like major or minor. You need the 7th, obviously, to make a 7th chord. So, the fifth is the most expendable, so to speak.

I might get excoriated for this, but a good book for learning some basic chord theory, and how to play them in popular music (e.g., from fake books), is How to Play Popular Piano in 10 Easy Lessons by Norman Monath. It teaches you how to form major, minor, diminished, augmented, 7ths, etc., and how to invert them for ease of playing and for more open voicing.
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#1112778 - 11/02/04 10:21 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
WhitingH&G Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 19
Loc: Mid-Atlantic
Markb,
I won't excoriate you for recommending Monath's book as long as you don't excoriate me for recommending "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory." My instructor recommended it as a basic introduction to music theory. I've found it to be quite helpful. I looked at the table of contents for Monath's book and I've already covered most of that stuff. But it does look like a good resource.

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#1112779 - 11/03/04 06:56 AM Re: Omitting the 5th?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
Whiting, I have The Complete Idiot's Guide... too, as well as How to play the piano despite years of lessons. It's more advanced that Monath's book but might be another good resource.
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