The dominant seventh chord is often referred to as the “blues chord” because
of how commonly it is found in blues music. The dominant seventh chord is a
four note chord consisting of the root, major third, perfect fifth and minor seventh notes. The root, major
third and perfect fifth notes are the notes that make up the major chord.
As a result, all you really need to learn how to play blues piano chords is to learn how to add the minor
seventh note to the major chords you already know how to play.
Determining the minor seventh note for any chord can be accomplished, even without knowing music theory. Locate
the root note of the chord on the keyboard. For example, the A key is the root note of the A7 chord. Move two keys
to the left of the root note to find the minor seventh.
You do need to remember to count the black keys when looking
for the minor seventh note. For example, two keys to the left of the A note is G, so G is the minor seventh note of
the A7 chord. Once you know the minor seventh note, you can begin to play the dominant seventh chord.
There are two major options for how to play the dominant seventh chord, depending on what the lowest note in the
chord is. The most common method is to add the higher pitched version of the minor seventh chord to the end of the
For example, for A7 you would play A-C-E-G, with A being the lowest pitch note. The
alternative is to make the perfect fifth note the lowest note, which would make the minor seventh note the
second lowest pitch note in the chord.
For example, for A7 you would play E-G-A-C to make the perfect fifth the lowest note. These are not the only
ways to play the dominant seventh chord, but due to how the keyboard on a piano is laid out, these two methods make
the most sense.
The chord progression to learn how to play blues piano
chords is actually quite simple. The chord progression follows the I-IV-V pattern. For example, in a song in C, the
chord progression would be C-F-G. For a song in the key of A, the chord progression would be A-D-E.
Unlike chord progressions in most genres, blues music does not change the type of chord being used in most
cases. That means all of the chords in the progression are likely to be a dominant seventh chord, so the chord
progression for a song in the key of A is usually going to be A7-D7-E7.
The minor seventh note is not always going to be on a white key, so you should practice playing both versions of
each dominant seventh chord as you learn how to play blues piano chords. For example, the C7 chord is C-E-G-Bb.
You need to get used to switching between dominant seventh chords that contain black keys because many song keys
are going to contain at least one dominant seventh chord with a black key in it.
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