How to Play an Em7 Chord on the Piano

Minor Seventh Chords

Let’s look at how to play an Em7 (“E minor seventh”) chord on the piano. We’ll also learn the pattern for building any other minor seventh chord.

What Are Minor Seventh Chords?

Minor seventh chords are minor chords with an added note. The added note is the seventh note of the matching major scale, lowered 1/2 step.

We can build a minor chord by first building the matching major chord, then lowering the middle note 1/2 step. So to build a C minor chord we can start with a C major chord and then lower the middle note 1/2 step.

Next we’ll find the seventh note of the matching major scale and lower it 1/2 step. So to convert our C minor chord into a Cm7 chord, we’ll find the seventh note of the C major scale and lower it 1/2 step.

piano chords chart pdf printable

Chord Types Printable

Learn to play 17 types of piano chords using 12 different root notes with this 35-page PDF! Chords are sorted both by their root note and type.

How to Play an Em7 Chord on the Piano

Now let’s build an Em7 chord. We’ll first need to build an E minor chord, so we’ll start with an E major chord, E – G♯ – B, and then lower the middle note 1/2 step: E – G – B.

Then we’ll find the seventh note of the E major scale, D♯, and lower it 1/2 step to D.

So to play an Em7 chord, we’ll play:

E – G – B – D

We can use this pattern to build any other minor seventh chord, by first building a minor chord, then adding the seventh note of the matching major scale, lowered 1/2 step.

Fingering

To play this chord with the right hand, we’ll use fingers 1 – 2 – 3 – 5 (thumbs are 1’s), and to play it with the left hand, we’ll use fingers 5 – 3 – 2 – 1.

Other Seventh Chords

There are different types of seventh chords, so it can be helpful to compare their differences.

Seventh chords are major chords with an added note. The added note is the seventh note of the matching major scale, lowered 1/2 step.

So an E7 chord is:

E – G♯ – B – D

Minor seventh chords are minor chords with an added note. The added note is the seventh note of the matching major scale, lowered 1/2 step.

So an Em7 chord is:

E – G – B – D

Major seventh chords are major chords with an added note. The added note is the seventh note of the matching major scale.

So an Emaj7 chord is:

E – G♯ – B – D♯

Other Chord Types

Some other chord types you can learn are:

Major
Minor
Augmented
Diminished
Second
Minor Second
Suspended
Fifth
Sixth
Minor Sixth
Seventh
Major Seventh
Ninth
Minor Ninth
Major Ninth

Conclusion

Now you know how to play an Em7 chord on the piano, and you can use that pattern to build any other minor seventh chord!

One reason chords are nice to use at the piano is because once we learn the pattern for building a particular type of chord, we can then build that same chord type starting on any note.

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2 Comments

  1. Joseph Watson

    I would like to learn to play the piano and I’m just starting. Would this be something to jump start my ability to play music, especially Christian music?

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      Hi, my blog teaches people how to learn the piano with chords, so I focus on teaching the theory behind building chords and chord progressions. This can help if you’d like to learn how to read and play chord charts, which many church worship teams use, or to learn to create your own chord progressions. My blog doesn’t cover learning to read and play sheet music, but can help lay a foundation for learning chords. Thanks!

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