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Songwriting Tip: Usable 7th Chord



New to songwriting? Wondering what to do with the diminished chord at the end of each key? There is a simple trick that not only brings back the extra harmony, but can easily add a different quality to your songs. Below I’ve written out the chords that occur naturally in the key of G. The Roman numerals above each chord represent the position, while the uppercase number signifies major and the lowercase indicates minor:


Unless you’re writing a jazz piece, it may be difficult to properly use the diminished chord (vii/F#dim) within a composition. The trick is to take the last chord of any key, in this case G, and lower it a half step to make it major. The F#dim would then become an F major chord.


There are a few reasons why this will sound good in the context of your song. I explain to my students that when they apply this idea, they are dipping into another key. By adding F to the key of G, they are hinting to the I-IV-V (C-F-G) of the key of C.

It can be a fine line between one key to the next, but if used sparingly, this can add a lot of strength to any chord progression. Experiment with this idea and see what you come up with.


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