Major Ninth Chords
Let’s look at how to play an Emaj9 (“E major ninth”) chord on the piano. We’ll also learn the pattern for building any other major ninth chord.
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.
Then we’ll add the seventh note of the matching major scale to the chord.
Since scales only have eight notes, we’ll need to repeat the scale into the next octave to find the ninth note. The ninth note is the same as the second note of the scale, but one octave up.
How to Play an Emaj9 Chord
Then we’ll add the seventh note of the scale to our chord: D♯
Then we’ll add the ninth note of the scale, by repeating the scale into the next octave: F♯
So to play an Emaj9 chord, we’ll play:
E – G♯ – B – D♯ – F♯
We can use this pattern to build any other major ninth chord, by playing the first, third, fifth, seventh and ninth notes of the matching major scale!
Since you probably can’t reach all these notes in this order with your right hand, you could play it a few other ways. One option would be to play an E octave with the left hand, and then play the G♯ – B – D♯ – F♯ with your right hand using fingers 1 – 2 – 3 – 5 (thumbs are 1’s).
Another option would be to move the F♯ down to the position of a second, and then play an E octave with the left hand, and use the right hand to play F♯ – G♯ – B – D♯ using fingers 1 – 2 – 3 – 5.
Other Chord Types
Some other chord types you can learn are:
Now you know how to play an Emaj9 chord on the piano, and you can use that knowledge to build any other major ninth chord!
Chords are a great way to learn and enjoy the piano, since the patterns can be repeated, and since they provide lots of room for creativity!