The Em7 chord, known formally as the E Minor Seventh, is a rich, melancholic chord that resonates with depth and complexity.
As a staple in the musical world, it graces many genres from jazz and blues to rock and pop. But what makes this chord so significant, and how can you incorporate it into your own musical journey?
In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of the Em7 chord, exploring its composition, its variations, and the magic it can bring to your music.
What is the EM7 Guitar Chord?
Before we can play the Em7 chord, we need a deeper understanding of its components and how it fits into the broader context of music theory.
In music theory, the Em7 chord, or E Minor 7th, is a type of minor seventh chord. This chord classification is derived from its composition and the intervals between its constituent notes.
The Em7 chord is made up of four notes: E, G, B, and D.
- E is the root note, also known as the tonic. This is the fundamental note upon which the chord is built and from which it gets its name. In this case, our root note is E.
- G is the minor third. The ‘minor’ quality of the chord comes from this interval. In a major chord, the third would be a half-step higher, but in the Em7 chord, the third is ‘flattened’ to give the chord a minor quality, lending it a somewhat sad or introspective tonality.
- B is the perfect fifth. This interval is called ‘perfect’ because it is neither major nor minor, but instead is common to both chord types. The perfect fifth adds depth and fullness to the sound of the chord.
- D is the minor seventh. This note adds an extra layer of complexity to the Em7 chord. The ‘seventh’ in the chord’s name comes from this interval. In a major seventh chord, this note would be a half-step higher, but in our Em7 chord, the seventh is also flattened, adding a touch of tension and expressivity to the chord’s sound.
Together, these notes create the Em7 chord. The result is a chord with a rich, nuanced sound, slightly melancholic yet soothing.
The minor quality of the chord gives it a moody, introspective feel, while the addition of the seventh note adds a touch of complexity and tension.
It’s also important to note that the Em7 chord belongs to the diatonic chords of certain keys. In the key of G major and E minor (which share the same key signature), the Em7 appears as the vi7 and i7 chord respectively.
Understanding this can help when you’re writing or improvising music, as you’ll know when the Em7 chord can naturally occur.
How to Play the EM7 Chord?
Now, let’s discuss how you can play the Em7 chord on your guitar.
There are several ways to play it, depending on your comfort level and the sound you’re aiming for. Here are three popular variations:
In this position, the Em7 chord is played near the headstock of the guitar.
- Place your index finger on the A string (the second thickest string) at the second fret.
- Place your middle finger on the D string (the fourth thickest string) at the second fret.
- Let the rest of the strings ring open.
This is the easiest way to play the Em7 chord and is a great starting point for beginners.
Barre Chord Version
This version is a bit more challenging, as it requires you to “bar” all the strings at a certain fret.
Here’s how you can play the Em7 chord as a barre chord:
- Bar all the strings at the 7th fret with your index finger.
- Place your ring finger on the A string at the 9th fret.
- Place your middle finger on the B string at the 8th fret.
Here’s another common way to play the Em7 chord, which is a bit more advanced:
- Bar all the strings at the 12th fret with your index finger.
- Place your ring finger on the D string at the 14th fret.
- Place your pinky finger on the B string at the 15th fret.
For a video tutorial, Click the play button below
When to Use the Em7 Chord?
The Em7 chord, like all chords, doesn’t exist in isolation. Understanding when and how to use it in your music can make all the difference in your compositions and performances.
The Em7 chord is versatile, appearing in a variety of musical contexts across different genres. It’s commonly found in rock, pop, jazz, blues, and even country music.
Em7 is a diatonic chord in certain keys, which means it naturally occurs in the scale of those keys. Particularly, you’ll find Em7 in the key of G major or E minor. It’s the vi7 chord in a G major scale and the i7 chord in an E minor scale.
In the key of G major, the Em7 chord can act as a pivot chord, helping to transition between the tonic (G major) and the dominant (D major). This can create a smooth, satisfying progression that’s pleasing to the ear.
In the key of E minor, the Em7 chord can serve as the tonic chord, acting as the home base that the music always wants to return to. The presence of the minor seventh can add a layer of expressivity and tension to your music.
In songwriting, the Em7 chord can be used to create a moody, introspective feel. It’s perfect for songs that require a touch of melancholy or introspection. Consider using it in verses to add depth and complexity to your melody, or in a bridge to create a moment of tension before resolving to a major chord.
The Em7 chord can also be used to add color and variation to your chord progressions. For example, instead of using a simple E minor chord, try substituting it with an Em7. This can add a fresh twist to your music and keep your listeners engaged.
You may be interested in learning the basics of rock, country, funk, or blues. Guitar Tricks has the learning resources for you, as well as many instructors to choose from. They offer some of the best online guitar lessons for beginners and advanced guitarists.
The Em7 chord, with its rich and complex sound, is a valuable addition to any guitarist’s toolkit.
While it might seem challenging at first, with some practice, you’ll be able to incorporate it into your playing smoothly. Remember, the key to mastering any new chord is patience and consistent practice.
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Marko is a passionate composer, producer, and multimedia artist with a Master of Music degree. His career involves performing, creating, and producing his own music in his home studio using digital and analogue equipment. Marko is a multi-instrumentalist (he plays guitar, bass, piano, theremin, and other instruments). performs live acts and DJ sets, and works on feature and short films, documentaries, festivals, theaters, and government initiatives.