How to Play a Cmaj9 Chord on the Piano

Major Ninth Chords

Let’s look at how to play a Cmaj9 (C major ninth) chord on the piano. These chords are really beautiful.

What Are Major Ninth Chords?

Major ninth chords are major chords with two added notes. The added notes are the seventh and ninth notes of the matching major scale.

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 major scales here).

Next we’ll add the seventh note of the matching major scale to the chord.

You may be wondering how we can add the ninth note of the scale to our chord, when scales only have eight notes. Well, if we repeat the scale into the next octave we can find the ninth note. The ninth note is the same as the second note of the scale, but one octave up.

piano chords printable charts

Chord Types Printable

Learn to play 17 types of piano chords using 12 different root notes with this 34-page PDF! Chords are sorted both by their root note (C, D, E, etc.) and type (major, minor, augmented, diminished, etc.).

How to Play a Cmaj9 Chord

Now let’s build a Cmaj9 chord. We’ll start by building our C major chord using the first, third and fifth notes of the C major scale: C – E – G.

Then we’ll add the seventh note of the scale to the chord, which is B.

Finally, we’ll add the ninth note by continuing the C major scale into the next octave. When we do this, we find the ninth note is D.

So to play a Cmaj9 chord, we’ll play:

C – E – G – B – D

Cmaj9 Chord PIano

You can use this pattern to build any major ninth chord. First play a major chord, then add the seventh and ninth notes of the matching major scale.

Fingering

You probably can’t reach all these notes in that order with your right hand, so you have a couple options. One option is to move the D down one octave, and play it this way: C – D – E – G – B. You’d need to play both the C and the D with your thumb turned at an angle to make this work. The fingering would be 1 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 5 (thumbs are 1’s).

Another option is to play the C with your left hand, and play the other notes with your right hand. If you do that, your fingering would be 1 – 2 – 3 – 5 to play the D – E – G – B.

Other Chord Types

Some of the other chord types you can learn are:

Major
Minor
Augmented
Diminished
Second
Minor second
Suspended
Fifth
Sixth
Minor Sixth
Seventh
Minor Seventh
Major Seventh
Ninth
Minor ninth

Conclusion

There are so many possibilities when it comes to piano chords, but you can use this pattern starting on any note, to build a major ninth chord.

That’s what I love about the piano! The patterns can be applied starting on any key. You don’t have to memorize everything, you just have to know the patterns.

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4 Comments

  1. Dave Miller

    Clearly explained! Wonderful online piano teaching.

    Reply
    • Julie

      Thank you so much!

  2. JAMES BRUNSWICK

    I REALLY LIKE THE VOICING WITH CHORDS.

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

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