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Tip: The dom 7 sharp 9

Have you heard this sound before?

|------|
|-6----|
|-5----|
|-4----|
|-5----|
|------|

You probably have if you’ve done any listening to rock or blues. It’s the dom 7 #9. Consider it a kind of sister chord to the dangerous dom 7 b9 we covered in recent issues. All “sister” means here is that this is another alteration to the natural nine of the dom 9 chord. The natural nine for the D7 chord is the note E.

Both flat nine (b9) and sharp nine (#9) are often found in the scales that we find the dom 7 #9 in. That does NOT mean we HAVE to put both b9 and #9 in the chord.

So what’s the big deal about the dom 7 #9? If you have a recording of Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze, have a listen to the intro. It’s a distinctive, pungent sound, which can work great for hardcore blues. Also, think of using it as a replacement for a simple minor chord:

Let’s try it in a wee little progression. First, try the progression without the dom 7 #9. Use your non-fretting fingers to grab the strings.

|-5-----------|------|------------|------------|
|-6-----------|-6-3--|------3--4--|-5--3--1----|
|-5--7--5--7--|-5-5--|-3--5-3-----|-3-----3----|
|-7--6--5-----|-7-4--|-3----3-----|-5-----2----|
|-8--8--7-----|-5----|------------|-3-----3----|
|----6--5-----|---4--|-3----3-----|------------|

Now play it with the dom 7#9

|-5-----------|------|------------|------------|
|-6-----------|-6-3--|------3--4--|-5--3--1----|
|-5--7--5--7--|-5-5--|-3--5-3-----|-3-----3----|
|-7--6--5-----|-4-4--|-3----3-----|-5-----2----|
|-8--8--7-----|-5----|------------|-3-----3----|
|----6--5-----|---4--|-3----3-----|------------|

The only change here is in the second measure. Pretty subtle. Maybe as a listener you wouldn’t notice the change, but you might feel something. As a player, though, you can hear a real change.

We’ll close out with another pattern dom 7 #9 pattern. It’s the one we just covered, but bumped up to put the melody note on string 1.

|-6----|
|-6----|
|-4----|
|-5----|
|------|
|------|

Thanks for reading.

Copyright © 2008 Darrin Koltow

This first appeared in the Guitar Noise News – July 15, 2006 newsletter. Reprinted with permission.

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