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Tip: The Major Nine – Part Two

We’ve been exploring a special “addition” to the plain major chord: the Major 9. In the scale of C major, you can have two different major nines:

C major 9: C, E, G, B, D — listed in order of ascending pitch. And F major 9: F, A, C, E, G

(You can also have a G major, add 9.)

Here’s a point about how this works in reality on the guitar. Sometimes, we don’t play the natural seventh. That’s the B in C major 9. In that case, the chord is named as follows: C major, add 9.

We’ll take a look at a couple of different places you can play the major 9 on the fretboard and then go into some applications for this form.

Here’s one pattern: the D major 6/9. Notes: D, F#, B, E. Notice the seven and five are missing. That’s fine: we don’t need them to get the basic major 9 sound.


And here’s one with the top note falling on string 1, F major, add 9


Play this one with your fingers instead of a pick.


Now here’s an excerpt from an actual tune that uses a major 9 chord.

  Q    Q     Q    Q      Q     E     Q.    Q
  Q  Q   Q  Q    Q  E  Q.  Q

The E means eighth note, Q is quarter note, and “Q.” is dotted quarter note.

That’s the Girl from Ipanema.

Also, listen to the intro to Dust in the Wind for a Major, add 9 happening in open position. Very pretty.

When do you use the major 9 and related chords? If you’re accompanying yourself singing, and reading chords to strum from chord charts or other notation, try a major 9 when you see a plain major chord called for.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright © 2008 Darrin Koltow

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

Ninth Chord Series