Use Chords You Know to Create 9th Chords
An easy way to add a 9th to a chord, is by playing the chord in the scale that is up 3 letters from that chord, as a 7th chord.
I know this sounds complicated when explained like this, but the examples will clear it all up.
In the key of C, if you want to turn Cmaj7 into Cmaj9, play the chord up 3 letters. That is Em7
You turn a maj7 chord, into a maj9 chord, when you play the chord up a major 3rd from that maj7 chord
That chord up a major 3rd from the maj7 chord, is a m7 chord.
Whenever you see a Cmaj7 chord, you can ALWAYS play an Em7 chord instead.
This turns the Cmaj7 chord into Cmaj9
The notes in an Em7 chord are: E G B D
When you play Em7 over the bass player hitting a C bass note…
Your chord becomes C E G B D = Cmaj9
9 (V9) Chords
To create A V9 chord, play the chord that is up a 3rd from the V chord in the scale, as a 7th (4-note) chord.
In the key of C, what is the V chord
What is the chord up a 3rd from G7?
Dominant V7 chords can always be replaced with VIIm7b5 chords
When the bass player hits a G bass note under you playing a Bm7b5 chord, this gives the notes
G B D F A
This is a G9 chord
Same idea: play the chord in the scale that is up a 3rd interval from the chord you are reading.
The song or music you’re reading has a Dm7 chord.
You can make it sound like a Dm9 chord simply by playing the chord in the scale that is up 3 letters from D
In the key of C: instead of playing Dm7, play Fmaj7 (F is up a 3rd from D) if you want to create a Dm9 sound.
When the bass player hits a D bass note under you playing an Fmaj7 chord, this gives the notes
D F A C E
These are the notes that make up a Dm9 chord.
How to Put This Into Practice?
As a fun drill: pick a common chord progression, like for example I VI II V
Cmaj7 Am7 Dm7 G7
With a looper pedal, play/record the bass notes of these chords, 1 bar each.
Another option: get a backing track that plays those 4 chords.
Then play over that backing track or recorded bass part…
but instead of strumming those chords, play the chords in the scale that are up a 3rd from the chords that are written.
Meaning: you see this chord progression Cmaj7 Am7 Dm7 G7
But you play
Em7 Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Bm7b5 (all these chords are up a 3rd from what you are reading)
When you do that, with the bass player hitting C A D and G bass notes
Your Em7 | Cmaj7 | Fmaj7 | Bm7b5 | chords that you are playing, actually sound like
Cmaj9 | Am9 | Dm9 | G9 |
Have fun with this. Try different chord progressions. If it gets easier: start exploring this in different keys.
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