The Difference between Cmaj7, Cm7 and Cmaj6 Chords: A blog about chord tones on certain chords used in popular music.
In the realm of jazz music there are hundreds of chords that a guitarist can choose from. While learning the different voicings for these chords a guitarist will commonly learn their chord tones (the notes that make up each chord). This blog will focus on the differences between Cmaj7, Cm7, and Cmaj6 chords and how to identify them by their chord tones.
C Major 7th Chord (Cmaj7)
The first chord we will look at is the C Major 7th or Cmaj7. This chord is formed when you play a major triad with an additional 7th scale degree above it. In this case the notes of a standard open position CMajor triad are:
A 7th scale degree above G would be F so if we add an F note to our Major triad we get:
This spelling is called 1-3-5-7 and is technically referred to as the root position voicing for this chord. But there are also other voicings for a C
What is the difference between a Cmaj7, a Cm7 and a Cmaj6 chord? There are two major ways to differentiate these chords:
Their sound/their function in a chord progression and
The particular chord tones (notes) they contain.
When it comes to chords and their construction, there is a lot of confusion out there. One common source of confusion is the way that different people use the same name to describe identical chords with different notes.
An example of this is the Cmaj7 chord, which many people refer to as a C major 7th chord. This is not wrong, but it does lead to some confusion when you compare the definition of a major 7 chord with the construction of a Cmaj7 chord.
So what exactly is a Cmaj7 chord?
Well, let’s first look at what makes it different from a C major chord and then we’ll get into how it compares to other similar chords like the Cm7 and Cmaj6.
The difference between the chords I’m talking about in this blog post is simple. It’s the number of notes they share. For example, Cmaj7 shares 4 notes with Cm7, and Cmaj6 shares 3 notes with Cm7. Let’s look at some examples.
Here is a chord progression that you might hear in a jazz song: Dmin7 – G7 – Cmaj7. This one is also popular in pop music as well: Dmin7 – G7 – Cmaj6. They both sound great because of how the chords are related to each other.
The first thing to notice is that all three chords contain two common notes: D and F
A lot of guitarists get confused when it comes to learning chords with numbers and letters in them. For example, Cmaj7, Cm7, Cmaj6, etc. They all have the root note of “C” but the other notes in the chord are completely different. It’s easy to see why this is confusing for some guitarists.
In this blog I will explain what makes each one of these chords different and how you can remember them. Let’s start off with the root note which is “C.”
The Cmaj7 chord is a major 7th, which means you’re playing a major triad (C-E-G), with an added 7th note a half step below the root note (Bb).
The Cm7 chord is a minor 7th, which means you’re playing a minor triad (C-Eb-G), with an added 7th note a half step below the root note (Bb).
The Cmaj6 chord is a major 6th, which means you’re playing a major triad (C-E-G), with an added 6th note two frets above the 5th of the chord (A).
Cmaj7 is a major triad with a 7th added to the chord. It’s built off the C Major Scale and uses the 1st (C), 3rd (E), 5th (G) and 7th (B) degrees of that scale.
Cm7 is a minor triad with a 7th added to the chord. It’s built off the C Minor Scale and uses the 1st (C), b3rd (Eb), 5th (G) and 7th (Bb) degrees of that scale.
Cmaj6 is a major triad with a 6th added to the chord. It’s built off the C Major Scale and uses the 1st (C), 3rd (E), 5th (G) and 6th (A) degrees of that scale.