Expanding your Chord Knowledge Pt.4: 9th Chords (1)

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Welcome to Part 4 of this tutorial, where we will be going over all the different forms of the 9th Chord. But before we begin, we must understand something called the "2-4-6 Rule".

Simply put, all this means is that the 2nd, 4th, and 6th degrees of the Major scale are the same as the 9th, 11th and 13th counting up past the octave, and we know this with how we take the C major scale and lay it out like this:

C- 1st (8th “Octave”)

D- 2nd = (9th)

E- 3rd (10th)

F- 4th = (11th)

G- 5th (12th)

A- 6th = (13th)

B- 7th (14th)

So, with this chart, we can now see where the 2, 4, 6 rule comes about.

Now, one more thing before we begin building our chords. Because we are learning this on the guitar and not on the Piano, the notes aren’t all laid out in a nice row for us like a Piano. So, with this in mind, sometimes we must eliminate a note to make the chord be able to conform to the neck of the guitar, so the note we usually eliminate is the 5th. This is because that the 5th in a chord isn’t really that harmonically important to us at that moment. Think of the 5th in an extension chord like your gall-bladder: It’s there, but half the time it isn’t really necessary. Of course it’s going to be an essential in triadic chords, but in extensions like 7th’s, 9th’s 11th’s and 13th’s this note becomes less important to us (if it’s unaltered though, we must keep it in) in order to play the chord on the guitar. We also do this because if you look at a chords make-up, we have the Root of the chord which is our starting point and building block, the 3rd which facilitates whether the chord will be a Major or Minor and the 7th 9th 11th and 13th notes to create 7th chords, 9th chords etc. So now that we have all that in mind…Let’s begin!

Now, onto a 9th chord. (Do not confuse this with an Add9 chord). This chord is formed by taking a Major 7th chord form (C-E-G-B) and adding on the 9th to it to create a 9th chord which goes: (C-E-G-B-D). Now, in order to be able to play this on the guitar, we must sometimes eliminate a note and, like I explained in the beginning, we must eliminate the 5th because it’s not harmonically important to us in creating this chord.

The first chord we will be building and working with is the Dominant 9th chord. All we do to create this chord is take a Dominant 7th chord form (C-E-G-Bb) and add on the 9th to create a Dominant 9th chord form, where the formula goes: (C-E-G-Bb-D) Intervalically, this can be thought up as: (Root, Major 3rd, Perfect 5th, Minor 7th, Major 9th.)

(Ex.1) For the A form of this chord, we have the root on the A string, the 3rd on the D string, the b7th on the G string and the 9th on the B string.

(Ex.2) For the E form of this chord, we have the root on the low E string, the 5th on the A string, the b7th on the D string, the 3rd on the G string, the 5th again on the B string and the 9th on the high E string.

(Ex. 3-4) For the C7b9 chord, all we do is lower the Major 9th on the A and E forms down one fret to Db. (Note, for the E form, I eliminated the low 5th on the A string for ease of use.)

(Ex. 5-6) For the C7#9 chord, all we do is raise the 9th on the A and E forms up one fret to D#.

(Ex. 7-8) For the C9#5 chord, all we do is raise the 5th up on the A and E forms one fret to G#. (Note, for the A form, we add the 5th on the high E string and raise it one fret to G#)

(Ex.9-10) For the C9b5 chord, all we do is lower the 5th on the A and E forms down one fret to Gb. (For the E form, I put the 3rd on the A string)

(Ex.11-12) For the C7#9#5 chord, all we do is raise the 9th and 5th on the A and E forms of the dominant 9th chord to G# and D#.

(Ex.13-14) For the C7b5b9 chord, all we do is lower the 9th and 5th on the A and E forms of the dominant 9th chord to Gb and Db.

(Ex.15-16) For the C7#5b9 chord, all we do is raise the 5th to G# and lower the 9th to Db on the A and E forms of the dominant 9th chord.

(Ex.17-18) For the C7#9b5 chord, all we do is lower the 5th to Gb and raise the 9th to D# on the A and E forms of the dominant 9th chord. (For the E form, I put the 3rd on the A string)

Continued in Part 2...