BY KATE KOENIG
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Welcome to the latest installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. In a previous lesson we went over Cmaj9. This time, we’ll explore three more major ninth chords: Amaj9, Emaj9, and Fmaj9.

The Work

If you remember, to get a major ninth chord, take a major seventh chord (Example 1) and add the ninth (Example 2). To get Amaj9 from open Amaj7 using open voicings, just remove the third finger, as shown in Example 3a. For some jazzy closed voicings (no open strings), see Example 3b.


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chord by chord diagrams amaj9 emaj9 fmaj9

Moving on to Emaj9 in seventh position, you can use the low sixth string—E, the root note—for a thicker sound, as shown in Example 4. Example 5a shows how to get to Fmaj9 from Fmaj7 using closed voicings in eighth position. Note that these shapes are moveable—Ex. 5a is identical to Ex. 3b, but four frets lower. The voicings in Example 5b are also moveable; they are the same as Ex. 4, but one fret higher (and omitting the low open E string).

The Result

You should now know a variety of ways to build various A, E, and Fmaj9 chords from their maj7 counterparts. The Who’s “Sea and Sand” happens to make use of an Fmaj9 chord in passing. In the next lesson, we’ll revisit dominant ninth chords.