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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.

---
-5-
-4-
-4-
-5-
---

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

-3-
-1-
-2-
-3-
---
---

Play this one with your fingers instead of a pick.

|------|-----|-----|-----|------|
|-7-7--|-----|-6-6-|-7-7-|-5----|
|-7-7--|-7-7-|-7-7-|-6-6-|-4----|
|-7-7--|-7-7-|-6-6-|-5-5-|-4----|
|-5-5--|-----|-----|-----|-5----|
|------|-7-7-|-6-6-|-5-5-|------|

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

  Q    Q     Q    Q      Q     E     Q.    Q
|-3----0----0---------|-3----0-----0----------|
|-1----1----1----3----|-1----1-----1-----3----|
|-2----2----2----2----|-2----2-----2-----2----|
|-3-------------------|-3----3-----3----------|
|---------------------|-----------------------|
|---------------------|-----------------------|
  Q  Q   Q  Q    Q  E  Q.  Q
|-3-----------|-3--------------
|-5--5--5--3--|-5--5--5---3----|
|-4--4--4--4--|-4--4--4---4----|
|-3-----------|-3--------------|
|-------------|----------------|
|-3-----------|-3--------------|

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.

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