Minor 9th chords

The Minor 9th (m9) chord can has a kind of mystic and ambient sound. The most common shape is easy to memorize if you are familiar with the 9th Chord. The difference is that one note is lowered (on the 4th string), which results in a longer stretch. The 1st and 6th strings are marked with "x" (the 1st string can be played if you prefer to bar the three highest strings). If we compare C9 with Cm9 we could see that the notes changes from C, E, Bb, D to C, Eb, Bb, D.

m9 (movable shape)

Cm9

  • Cm9 chord diagram X31333X

Dm9

  • Dm9 chord diagram X5355X

Em9

  • Em9 chord diagram X7577X

Fm9

  • Fm9 chord diagram

Gm9

  • Gm9 chord diagram

Am9

  • Am9 chord diagram

Bm9

  • Bm9 chord diagram X2022X

Alt. shape

  • Minor 9th chord shape

Comments

Notice that the shapes are the same (notice also the irregularity for Bm9). This means that the chords are movable and, therefore, you can easily find out how to play C#m9 /Dbm9, D#m9 /Ebm9, F#m9 /Gbm9, G#m9 /Abm9 and A#m9 /Bbm9 as well.

The less common minor 6th/9th chord can be played with a similar shape, for example Em6/9 as X7567X.

Minor 9th with flats and sharps

Additional chords in this category:

C sharp / D flat m9: X46444
D sharp / E flat m9: X68666
F sharp / G flat m9: 242224
G sharp / A flat m9: 464446
A sharp / B flat m9: X13111

Theory

The minor 9th chord can be found on the ii and vi degrees in a major scale. In C major, this would be Dm9 and Am9 whereas Em9 would be a non-diatonic chord because of the F# note.

In minor 9th chords, the 2nd and minor 3rd intervals (same as 9th and minor 3rd) will create a dissonance. But two tones that create dissonance played together can sound great harmonized in the full chord. For example, the notes D and Eb (that can be found in Cm9) will sound dissonant together, but not the Cm9 chord.

Chord formula

The minor ninth is built with the formula 1-b3-5-b7-9 (root, minor 3rd, perfect 5th, minor 7th and major 9th).

Chord construction

Cm9  x - C - Eb - Bb - D - x
Dm9  x - D - F - C - E - x
Em9  x - E - G - D - F# - x
Fm9  x - F - Ab - Eb - G - x
Gm9  x - G - Bb - F - A - x
Am9  x - A - C - G - B - x
Bm9  B - C# - A - D - x - x
Guitar versions of the chord

Notes in chord

Cm9  C - Eb - G - Bb - D
Dm9  D - F - A - C - E
Em9  E - G - B - D - F#
Fm9  F - Ab - C - Eb - G
Gm9  G - Bb - D - F - A
Am9  A - C - E - G - B
Bm9  B - D - F# - A - C#
The intervals are 1 – b3 – 5 – b7 – 9

Open minor 9 chords

Dm9

  • Dm9 chord diagram

Em9

  • Em9 chord diagram

Am9

  • Am9 chord diagram

Bm9

  • Bm9 chord diagram

Comments

The keys that have been left out has no good options for being played in open position, see instead the movable shapes below. Two alternatives for Am9 is X0200X and X02410, for Dm9 an alternative is XX0210, for Em9 an alternative is 024030, and for Bm9 an alternative is X20222.

Here are additional shapes in open position for this chord category:

F#m9 / Gbm9: 20212X / XX4200

Chord progressions

Examples of progressions including minor 9th:

Bm9 - Amaj7 - Dmaj7

Dm9 - Am7 - Cmaj7

The minor 9th is well-suited in gypsy jazz and one possible progression is:

Em9 – Dm9 – C9


Minor 9th chords work as ii and vi, but not as iii chords (atonal). So, for example, in C major key, Dm9 and Am9 are viable (diatonic) options.

Voicings with bass note on 4th string

If you want to play the minor ninth with the bass note on fourth string, here are some voicings. Notice that the shapes are movable.

Fm9: XX1113
Gm9: XX3335
Am9: XX5557
Bm9: XX7779
Cm9: XX88810
Dm9: XX10 10 10 12
Em9: XX12 12 12 14

Voicings with bass note on 6th string

If you want to play the minor ninth with the bass note on sixth string, here are voicings. Notice that the shapes are movable and that you need to bar two strings with your little finger.

Cm9: 1X133X
Dm9: 3X355X
Em9: 5X577X
Fm9: 6X688X
Gm9: 8X810 10 X

It's also possible to play the minor 9th with the root on the 6th string, as Bm9: 7477XX, which demands a big stretch.


Back to chord types

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