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
Just intonation 996 or 1018
Minor seventh About this sound Play  equal tempered or About this sound just .

In classical music from Western culture, a seventh is a musical interval encompassing seven staff positions, and the minor seventh is one of two commonly occurring sevenths. It is qualified as minor because it is the smaller of the two: the minor seventh spans ten semitones, the major seventh 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 are rarely featured 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]

In just intonation there is both a 16:9 "small just minor seventh", also called "Pythagorean small minor seventh",[6] (About this sound Play ) and a 9:5 "large just minor seventh" (About this sound Play ).[7][8] An interval close in frequency is the harmonic seventh.[9]

See also[edit]


  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.