How to Play an Em9 Chord on the Piano

Minor Ninth Chords

Let’s look at how to play an Em9 (“E minor ninth”) chord on the piano. We’ll also learn the pattern for building any other minor ninth chord.

What Are Minor Ninth Chords?

Minor ninth chords are minor chords with two added notes. The added notes are the seventh note of the matching major scale, lowered 1/2 step, and the ninth note of the scale.

To build a minor ninth chord, we’ll start by building a minor chord. We can build a minor chord by building the matching major chord, then lowering the middle note 1/2 step.

Then we’ll add the seventh note of the matching major scale, but lowered 1/2 step.

Then we’ll add the ninth note of the matching major scale. Since scales only have eight notes, to find the ninth, we need to repeat the scale into the next octave. The ninth note is the same as the second note of the scale, but one octave up.

chord types 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, etc.).

How to Play an Em9 Chord

So to build an Em9 chord, we’ll first need to build an Em chord. We can build an E minor chord by building an E major chord, using the first, third and fifth notes of the E major scale. Then we’ll lower the middle note 1/2 step: E – G – B.

Then we’ll find the seventh note of the E major scale, D♯, and lower it 1/2 step to D.

Then we’ll repeat the scale into the next octave to find the ninth note: F♯

So to play an Em9 chord, we’ll play:

E – G – B – D – F♯

em9 chord piano

Now you know how to play an Em9 chord, and you can use this pattern to build any other minor ninth chord! First build a minor chord by taking the matching major chord and lowering the middle note 1/2 step. Then add the seventh note of the matching major scale, lowered 1/2 step. Then repeat the scale into the next octave to add the ninth note.

Fingering

You probably can’t reach all these notes in this order with your right hand only, so you could try playing an E octave with your left hand, then playing the G – B – D – F♯ with your right hand using fingers 1 – 2 – 3 – 5 (thumbs are 1’s).

Or you could move the F♯ down to the position of a second, and then play the E octave with your left hand, and play the rest of the notes in this order with your right hand: F♯ – G – B – D using fingers 1 – 2 – 3 – 5.

Conclusion

Minor ninth chords are complex and pretty, and now you can start using them in your own music!

Chords are a great way to learn and enjoy the piano, and provide lots of room for creativity.

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