On the guitar, knowing the position of 3rds and 7ths lets us shift between chords easily. Add a major 2nd note to the combination, and we have the 9th chords…

Below, we have a look at the chords we get by shifting frets on the first string. We look at the difference between the added 9th chords and 9th chords. We also use fretboard relations to comfortably build chords from one another by finding notes in the vicinity that can be played within human limits.

7th on the first string – moving through the frets

Below image shows a dominant 7th chord with the root on the 4th string and 7th on the 1st string.

To play the major 7th chord from the same root, change the minor 7th note to a major 7th note by shifting the minor 7th note one fret to the right as shown below.

The added 9th chord

Now moving through further through the frets, we get to play the major 2nd note on the first string, as shown below. 


The added ninth chord has the following 'spelling' : root – 3rd – 5th – major 2nd

The third note could be a minor third note or a major third note.

The above chord has a  major 3rd note, making it a major added 9th chord (referred to as just the 'added 9th chord').

Playing minor 3rd note instead of the major 3rd note will give us the minor added 9th chord.

The 9th chord

The 9th chord needs to have the 7th note in addition to the notes of the added ninth.

So, the spelling of a ninth chord is: root – 3rd – 5th – 7th – major 2nd

The 9th chord has 4 versions based on which third (minor or major) and seventh (minor or major) are used.

Playing the 7th chord along with the added 9th fingering

Seventh notes are found on frets just before the root notes.

Use the relationship shown in figure below to find another root position in the vicinity.

There is another root on the 2nd string. 

The below image shows all the 7th and 2nd intervals associated with the roots we use in the chords we discuss here. 

Intervals on frets – 1st, 2nd and 4th string roots

Now add the major 7th or minor 7th notes from the 2nd string, to the added 9th chord pattern to get the major 9th or dominant 9th chords respectively.

Major 9th: root – major 3rd – 5th – major 7th – major 2nd

Dominant 9th: root – major 3rd – 5th – minor 7th – major 2nd 

See the chord code to understand chords and chords on the guitar, better.

The major 9th chord – 4th string root

The dominant 9th chord – 4th string root

The dominant 9th is the chord referred to when we say just 'the 9th chord'.

Using the 9th chords


Using the dominant 9th chord

The dominant 9th chord can be a more 'detailed' substitute for a dominant 7th chord.

7th chords are used in V to I or V to i transitions to give perfect cadances. 

The dominant 9th chord is a dominant 7th chord with the major 2nd note defining it additionally.

When playing chords for Ragas or scales, the 9th chord can be a chord directly derived from any major scale or raga with a minor 7th note and a major 2nd note. (Sa Ri2 Ga3 Pa Ni2)

Using the major 9th chord

The major 9th chord has a major 2nd note in addition to the major 7th chord. If you have a phrase where you use the major 7th chord, and if the sound of the major 2nd note is acceptable, you can use the major 9th chord.

The major 9th chord has the following swaras, when the root is taken as the Sa: Sa Ri2 Ga3 Pa Ni3

Those are the notes of the pentatonic (5 note) raga Hamsadhwani.

When the notes of a major 9th chord is considered as a scale, we get the notes of the raga Hamsadhwani, which is a very popular and prominent raga in Indian classical music.

Chord independence: the chord code   Confident chord usage and playing chords for songs, ragas and scales.