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complex chords - how to play on guitar -> D7(#9 #5)

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I'm in a band and there is generic sheet music for the "rhythm section"... which includes me on the guitar. One of the chords in a song is D7(#9 #5). I know some basic music theory, but I doubt I could really figure out how to play that without just finding a chord chart/diagram for it. Needless to say, I can't find that one ANYWYERE.

My question: I've heard that any chord that has anything in parentheses allows that which is in the parentheses to be optional. This would mean I could play a simple D7 and it would sound just fine with the rest of the band. Is this true? Can anyone confirm that for me?

Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 7833

Quite likely. And the notes of the chord don't have to all be played on the same instrument, anyway. Playing bits and pieces of a complex chord is quite acceptable. For instance, playing the third and the seventh, which give the chord its character. The root and fifth will probably be found somewhere else in the mix.

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Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
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The notes in parenthesis aren't optional - they're the altered tones.

As Ricochet noted, you don't need to play every note... but if you play a note in the chord that's supposed to be altered, you need to alter it.

If you just play a D7 instead of a D7(#9#5), you'll be playing a regular fifth - and it's supposed to be raised. So you could get away with a voicing that doesn't have a fifth in it, like x5453x, but you won't get away with a voicing that includes an unaltered fifth.

You usually won't find altered chords in chord dictionaries, because there are so many ways to do them. But they're not hard to figure out if you know your scales.

Take a 'standard' D7: 10-12-10-11-10-10. You need to add the #9, which is E# (same tone as F), so you could add that on the first string: 10-12-10-11-10-13. Now you need to figure out where the fifth is - for a D7, that's A. You've got two A notes in the standard chord, on the fifth and second strings - they need to either be dropped or raised. So you could end up with 10-13-10-11-11-13, which isn't as hard to finger as it looks.

Or you could just grab part of that, and play x-13-10-11-11-x or x-x-10-11-11-13

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Trusted Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 70

Let me just give you a nice/easy way to play that chord without long explanations:


You'll have to put your pink flat on the first and second string. This might need some time getting used to but after practice it will become second nature I'm sure!

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Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 5108

Just in case it's helpful, probably the best chord reference site on the web is:

Howard's List of Guitar Chords.

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