Major Ninth Chords
Let’s look at how to play an Amaj9 chord on the piano. We’ll also learn the pattern for building any major ninth chord.
What Are Major Ninth Chords?
So to build a major ninth chord, we’ll start by building a major chord. Major chords are built using the first, third and fifth notes of the matching major scale (learn how to build a major scale here).
Then we’ll add the seventh note of the matching major scale to the chord.
Finally, we’ll add the ninth note of the scale to the chord. Since scales only have eight notes, to add the ninth note, we’ll repeat the scale into the next octave. The ninth note is the same as the second note of the scale, but one octave up.
How to Play an Amaj9 Chord
Then we’ll add the seventh note of the same scale: G♯
Finally, we’ll add the ninth note of the scale by repeating the scale into the next octave: D
So to play an Amaj9 chord, we’ll play:
A – C♯ – E – G♯ – D
You can use this pattern to build any major ninth chord. First build a major chord using the first, third and fifth notes of the matching major scale. Then add the seventh and ninth notes of the same scale.
You probably can’t reach all these notes with your right hand only, so you have a couple options. One option would be to play the A with the left hand and play the C♯ – E – G♯ – B with the right hand using fingers 1 – 2 – 3 – 5 (thumbs are 1’s).
Another option would be to move the B back down to the position of a second, and play the notes in this order: A – B – C♯ – E – G♯ with your thumb at an angle to play the first two notes. The fingering would be: 1 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 5.
Other Chord Types
There are many other chord types you can learn. Here are some others:
Now you know how to play an Amaj9 chord on the piano, and you can use that knowledge to build any major ninth chord!
The nice thing about these chords is that even though they are more complex in that they have five notes, the five notes used to build the chord are all part of the matching major scale. So if you play the first, third, fifth, seventh and ninth notes of any major scale, you’ve built the corresponding major ninth chord!