What is the Dominant 7th?
Learn Bass Guitar – Dominant 7th Pattern –> In the previous lesson we covered the Major 7th bass pattern. The Dominant 7th is the same pattern as the Major 7th with one difference – the 7th note is played as a flat. So in total the Dominant 7th includes the root, 3rd, 5th, and flat 7th.
Below is a Major 7th pattern showing the roots, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of an A Major scale:
The diagram below shows a Dominant 7th pattern again for an A Major scale. It has the same notes as the Major 7th but the 7th is now played as a flat – one fret (note) lower:
How to Find the Flat 7th
The flat 7th will always be located 2 frets (notes) below (lower pitch) the root notes. The diagram below shows the flat 7th two frets (notes) below the root “A” for both high and low octaves. The flat 7th for both octaves is a G.
When to Use the Dominant 7th
The dominant 7th is a very common pattern that is used extensively in many genres of music. You will find it in jazz, rock, R&B, funk, etc. Many bass lines will use one dominant 7th chord throughout an entire song – especially in funk music.
It is called a dominant pattern because it produces a very pronounced sound that is quite noticeable. The flat 7th is used to create tension, or as a note that moves a song in a certain direction. So it’s important to be sure the dominant 7th fits. Using it in spots where it doesn’t fit is quite noticeable and can make the bassline stand out in a bad way. However, using it in the right place at the right time produces a powerful sound that can define the feel and direction of a song. As always, let your ear be the judge to determine whether or not to use this dominant pattern.
Dominant 7th Notation/Abbreviation
The Dominant 7th is notated by using the root note of the chord followed by the number 7. For example, the abbreviation for a C Major Dominant 7th chord is C7
Songs that Use a Dominant 7th Bass Line
“Crossfire”by Stevie Ray Vaughan – Here’s a video of me playing Crossfire by Stevie Ray Vaughan. Note: the bass is tuned down a half-step (Eb, Ab, Db, Gb). It’s a great example of the dominant 7th being used as a bassline. The bassists is playing the Eb dominant 7th scale throughout:
- Root – Eb
- 3rd – G
- 5th – Bb
- Flat 7th – Db
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Learn Bass Guitar – Dominant 7th Pattern