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)
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
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.
The minor ninth is built with the formula 1-b3-5-b7-9 (root, minor 3rd, perfect 5th, minor 7th and major 9th).
Chord constructionCm9 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 chordCm9 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
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
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.
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.
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.
Minor 9th chord inversions
A minor 9th chord is possible to play in numerous configurations including four inversions (it's also common to combine inversions with omitting notes for this chord type).
Cm9 can be used as an example:
- C - Eb - G - Bb - D (root position)
- Eb - G - Bb - C - D (1st inversion)
- G - Bb - C - D - Eb (2nd inversion)
- Bb - C - D - Eb - G (3rd inversion)
- D - Eb - G - Bb - C (4th inversion)
To indicate that a chord is played inverted it is written as slash sign before the bass note. For example, the first inversion of the Cm9 chord is written Cm9/Eb. Some examples follow below in short notation:
For more chord diagrams, see The Chord Reference ebook.