Merry Christmas: Happy Playing Chords (Part 2)

Merry Christmas: Happy Playing Chords (Part 2)

In the first half of the lesson (Follow this link to get to Part 1), we have already discussed (1) the formula for finding chords in a major scale and (2) the tonal function of chords. This time, we will continue in using Christmas Is a Time to Love (Click here to get the sheet music) to explain the chord symbols we could find in a tab.

Each chord symbol gives one or the more of the information at below:

The “7” following the root note indicates a dominant seventh chord, i.e. a major triad with minor seventh.

Seventh chord

A seventh chord is a chord consisting of a triad plus a note forming an interval of a seventh above the chord’s root.

It can be further divided into (1) a major seventh chord, (2) a minor seventh chord and (3) a dominant seventh chord.

1. Major seventh chord

The notes forming a major seventh chord has the following interval pattern:

Dmaj7 chord

2. Minor seventh chord

The following is the interval pattern we can find in a minor seventh chord:

Dm7 Chord

3. Dominant seventh chord

A dominant seventh chord is very much close to a combination of the two—it consists of a major third and a minor seventh.

D7 Chord

Yet how is it different from the two? What makes it so special? I hope you still remember we have mentioned in Part 1 (click me to refer to it if necessary) that a dominant chord is with the highest instability. It’s because the addition of the minor seventh note will destabilize the triad by creating a dissonance—F# coexisting with C in this case—forming a triton (three whole tones), which sounds exceptionally unharmonious.

After introducing chord symbols with the number 7, let’s move on to those with a slash! What are they? How does the slash do with the chord? Can’t wait to find out the answer, right? Let’s see.

Slash chord

A slash chord is a chord whose bass note or inversion is indicated by the addition of a slash (/) and the bass note. The left hand side of the slash comes the root note letter (showing which chord it should be) while the bass note is on its right hand side.


We have already talked about how a chord looks like in its root position and first inversion in another related article entitled 3 Critical Knowledge to Enhance Your Chord Playing, which will also explain to you why inversion is so important to a musical composition (Click here to see the details).

This time, we will be introducing the second inversion. The second inversion of a chord is when the fifth of the chord is in the bass. You may have a look at the second inversion of a D chord and have it compared to its root position and first inversion from the diagram below.

Last but not the least, merry Christmas and happy new CHORDS!