The standard Jazz Chords

The most distinctive jazz chords are Imaj7 and IVmaj7. In romantic music alterations of I and IV were quite unusual, but in the twentieth century it actually became the very essence of jazz- and blues-harmonics. Do you remember that in Blues the minor seventh chords I7 and IV7 are used? Well, in Jazz they use the major seventh chords Imaj7 and IVmaj7. So, jazz is UP and blues is DOWN. (In both minor Jazz and Blues, by the way, Im7 and IVm7 are used.)

The standard Jazz Rhythm Scheme is based upon the song I got Rhythm by George Gershwin. Notice that the Imaj7 and IVmaj7 chords are not used in this song; like in blues the extension of I and IV with a seventh was a later development.


As we saw before Gershwin replaced IV with IIm7, and after that in Jazz harmonisation it became almost an unwritten rule to substitute V7 with IIm7 – V7. In Jazz music secondary dominants and secondary (IIm7 V7) are much in use. Especially the so called Coltrane changes are quite interesting. Read more for chords here.