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Beginner Guitar Lessons:

9th Chords




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What is a major chord? A minor chord? What do all those numbers
and letters and other symbols in a chord's name mean?
Find out in this free mini-course.

The 9th in a chord corresponds to the note one tone (2 frets) above the octave. We can build 9th chords by adding this note (root +7= octave +1tone = 9th) or we can move the major third back 2 frets ( Major 3rd - 1tone = 2nd which is the same note as a 9th one octave lower: we generally use 9th in the chord's name anyway unless we really want to be precise). Again, for more on intervals see the Theory section.

We can have both suspended 9th chords (with no third) and 9th chords ( the 9th is added to a major or minor chord, usually an octave apart). They are very beautiful chords and they give a different kind of 'suspended' feeling compared to Sus4 chords, they don't need to 'resolve' to another chord.



E major



A major



D major

We'll use both approaches in the next chords shapes. To obtain an E9 chord we add an F# on the second fret of the first string: we move from the open string E (the octave) up one tone ( two frets ) to F# (the 9th). This is not a suspended chord because we still have a major third (G#) on the first fret on the third string.

The other two chords are suspended: to play them we have to move the major third back two frets. In both cases, if you remember the first lesson on chords), the major third corresponds to the uppermost finger in the shape: we moved it one fret back to get minor chords and now we move it two frets back to play sus9 chords (we don't have a 'duplicate' major third in these shapes as we had in the E shape).



E 9



A sus9



D sus9

We can always mix the 9th chords with dominant 7th ones to get 9/7 chords. In all three cases we move the mid finger of the original major chords shape back two frets.



E 7/9



A sus7/9



D sus7/9

Combining a minor chord with a 9th (and a 7th) adds beautiful textures to the sound and depending on the position of the 9th, close or one octave apart from the minor 3rd, we can change the degree of 'tension' of the chord itself.

in the first example we add a F# on the first string (the 9th) to a E minor 7th chord. The minor 3rd is the open 3rd string (G) and so is (almost) an octave away from the 9th. Compare the sound of this chord with and without the 9th to hear the subtle difference in the sound.

In the other two examples we move a little bit down the neck: pay attentions to the roman numbers on top of the diagram that tell us on which frets we need to play these chords.

This time we add an F# on the 4th fret on the 4th string, just one half tone away from the open G on the 3rd string (we could consider this F# a 2nd). The closeness of the 2 notes gives the chord a particular tension.

In the third example we also add a D on the 2nd string to get a minor 7/9 chord.



E min 7/9



E min 9



E min 7/9

Listen to the different sound of the first and third examples to understand the importance of the 'position' of a note within a chord, higher, lower or close to another note or, as in the first chord, on top.

We move now to the 5th fret for a few examples of A and D 9th chords. They are quite simple and use open strings to add the 9th (second and first). In both cases the 7th is on the 5th fret and we move it forward two frets to get the octave and so a simple min 9th chord without the seventh.



A min7/9



A min 9



D min7/9



D min 9

There are other ways to play 9th chords and we'll see them in another section of the site.

Now let's take a look at some 6th chords.









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