Minor seventh

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minor seventh
Inverse major second
Other names -
Abbreviation m7
Semitones 10
Interval class 2
Just interval 16:9[1] or 9:5[2]
Equal temperament 1000
24 equal temperament 1000
Just intonation 996 or 1018
Minor seventh About this sound Play  equal tempered or About this sound just .

In music theory, a minor seventh is one of two musical intervals that span seven staff positions. It is minor because it is the smaller of the two sevenths, spanning ten semitones. The major seventh spans eleven. For example, the interval from A to G is a minor seventh, as the note G lies ten semitones above A, and there are seven staff positions from A to G. Diminished and augmented sevenths span the same number of staff positions, but consist of a different number of semitones (nine and twelve).

Minor seventh intervals rarely feature in melodies (and especially in their openings) but occur more often than major sevenths. The best-known example, in part due to its frequent use in theory classes, is found between the first two words of the phrase "There's a place for us" in the song "Somewhere" in West Side Story.[3] Another well-known example occurs between the first two notes of the introduction to the main theme music from Star Trek: The Original Series theme.[4]

The most common occurrence of the minor seventh is built on the root of the prevailing key's dominant triad, producing the all-important dominant seventh chord.

Consonance and dissonance are relative, depending on context, the minor seventh being defined as a dissonance requiring resolution to a consonance.[5]

In other temperaments[edit | edit source]

In just intonation there is both a 16:9 "small just minor seventh", also called "Pythagorean small minor seventh",[6](About this sound Play ) equivalent to two perfect fourths stacked on top of each other, and a 9:5 "large just minor seventh" (About this sound Play )[7][8] equivalent to a perfect fifth and a minor third on top of each other. An interval close in frequency is the harmonic seventh.[9]

See also[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. Haluska (2003), p.xxiv. Pythagorean minor seventh.
  2. Haluska, Jan (2003). The Mathematical Theory of Tone Systems, p.xxiii. ISBN 0-8247-4714-3. Just minor seventh.
  3. Neely, Blake (2009). Piano For Dummies, p.201. ISBN 0-470-49644-4.
  4. Keith Wyatt, Carl Schroeder, Joe Elliott (2005). Ear Training for the Contemporary Musician, p.69. ISBN 0-7935-8193-1.
  5. Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I, p.53. Seventh Edition. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0.
  6. "On Certain Novel Aspects of Harmony", p.119. Eustace J. Breakspeare. Proceedings of the Musical Association, 13th Sess., (1886 - 1887), pp. 113-131. Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Musical Association.
  7. "The Heritage of Greece in Music", p.89. Wilfrid Perrett. Proceedings of the Musical Association, 58th Sess., (1931 - 1932), pp. 85-103. Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Musical Association.
  8. Partch, Harry (1979). Genesis of a Music, p.68. ISBN 0-306-80106-X
  9. David Dunn, 2000. Harry Partch: an anthology of critical perspectives.

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