9 major chords
The Major 9th (maj9) chord should not be confused with the dominant 9th chord. If we compare Cmaj9 with C9 we could see that the notes changes from C, D, E, B to C, D, E, Bb. It's a relatively uncommon chord, which is probably most used in jazz arrangements. Below you could see this chord played in different tones with a movable shape.
maj9 (moveable shape)
Notice that the chord has some similarities with the 7#9 chord, just two fingers are changing positions.
Since some of the chords above are high up the fretboard and in some situations less suitable, some compliment to maj9 chords in open positions are presented below.
Major 9th with flats and sharps
Additional chords in this category, with the same shapes as seen in diagrams above:
C sharp / D flat maj9: X4354X
D sharp / E flat maj9: X6576X
F sharp / G flat maj9: X 9 8 10 9 x
G sharp / A flat maj9: X 11 10 12 11 X
A sharp / B flat maj9: X1021X
Major 9th chords with bass note on 6th string
A movable chord shape with root note on the sixth string and the third note omitted:
Some example with short notation:
Major 9th chords with alternative shape
Another possible movable chord shape with root note on the fifth string:
Notice that this is based on the X30000 Cmaj9 shape. Some example with short notation:
The only diatonic major 9th chord can be found on the IV degree in a major scale. In C major, this would be Fmaj9 whereas Gmaj9 would be a non-diatonic chord because of the F# note.
The major ninth is built with the formula 1-3-5-7-9 (root, major 3rd, perfect 5th, major 7th and major 9th).
Chord constructionCmaj9 x -C - E - B - D - x
Dmaj9 x -D - F# - C# - E - x
Emaj9 x -E - G# - D# - F# - x
Fmaj9 x - F - A - E - G - x
Gmaj9 x - G - B - F# - A - x
Amaj9 x - A - C# - G# - B - x
Bmaj9 x - B - D# - A# - C# - x
Guitar versions of the chord
Notes in chordCmaj9 C - E - G - B - D
Dmaj9 D - F# - A - C# - E
Emaj9 E - G# - B - D# - F#
Fmaj9 F - A - C - E - G
Gmaj9 G - B - D - F# - A
Amaj9 A - C# - E - G# - B
Bmaj9 B - D# - F# - A# - C#
The intervals are 1 - 3 - 5 - 7 - 9
Suggestions of chord sequences to try with this chord type:
Dm9 - G13 - Cmaj9
Cmaj9 - C#dim7 - Dm7 - G11
Em - Dmaj9 - Asus2 - Cadd9
Major 9th chords work as I and IV, but not as V chords (atonal). So, for example, in C major key, Cmaj9 and Fmaj9 are viable (diatonic) options.
Open major 9 chords
Notice that Fmaj9 has a shape the copies C major in open position but on a higher fret. An alternative version for Emaj9 is 021102.
An inverted open version of Cmaj9 (Cmaj9/E) is possible as 020010.
More examples of progressions including major 9th in open positions:
C - Fmaj9 - G6
D - Dmaj9 - G - Gmaj9
Major 9th chord inversions
A major 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).
C9 can be used as an example:
- C - E - G - B - D (root position)
- E - G - B - C - D (1st inversion)
- G - B - C - D - E (2nd inversion)
- B - C - D - E - G (3rd inversion)
- D - E - G - B - 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 Cmaj9 chord is written Cmaj9/E. Some examples follow below in short notation:
For more chord diagrams, see The Chord Reference ebook.
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