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How To Find 11th Chords From Minor 7th Chords (Piano, Keyboard And Organ)

Feb 27, 2008
When starting to learn chords, most people will start with the basic major and minor chords, then on to seventh and minor seventh chords. You might be surprised to learn that when you have mastered all twelve minor seventh chords you have also potentially learned twenty-four eleventh chords.

I love the sound of eleventh chords; they somehow manage to give a big sound and are great for key changes. If you want to listen to good examples of eleventh chords then listen to some early Barry Manilow music such as "Even Now", "Mandy" and "Cant smile without you". Listen in particular to the key changes and there you have a good big sounding example of eleventh chords in action.

So how to find the eleventh chord from a minor seventh chord. First, learn all twelve minor seventh chords. Second, make sure you know where the fifth in any chord is. For example, the fifth in Gm7 is "D", which is seven semitones from the root. ("G" root to "D" fifth is seven semitones)

Now you are ready to play an eleventh chord. Let's use G11 as our example. First work out what the fifth is in a G chord, the answer is "D", then make that "D", a Dm7 chord and most importantly play a "G" bass note or pedal. So G11 = Dm7 with a "G" bass.

Here are some more examples:
Chord Name = C11
Find the Fifth = G
Make it Minor = Gm7 (with a C bass note)

Chord Name = F11
Find the Fifth = C
Make it Minor = Cm7 (with a F bass note)

Chord Name = G11
Find the Fifth = D
Make it Minor = Dm7 (with a G bass note)

Chord Name = D11
Find the Fifth = A
Make it Minor = Am7 (with a D bass note)

Chord Name = A11
Find the Fifth = E
Make it Minor = Em7 (with a A bass note)

For the more technical minded. Let's look more closely at the structure of the 11th chord. If we use C11 as our example,
ROOT = C (played as a bass note or pedal)
THIRD = not used
FIFTH = G
SEVENTH = Bb
NINTH = D
ELEVENTH = F

Notice the root is always played as a bass note or bass pedal. This note is very important and also helps the chord sound BIG. Try it. You should also notice that the third is not used. This means that our C11 can also be Cm11 because; the only difference between a major chord and a minor chord is the third.

So there you have it. Twelve major 11th chords, twelve minor 11th chords. That's a total of twenty-four 11th chords from twelve minor 7th chords.
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