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Extended Chords

Extended chords add the 7th, 9th, 11th and 13th notes from the dominant scale to the base chords. For now, we'll add just the 7th note:

Note number: R         m3 3 4   -5 5 +5   6 7 +7
In the key of C: C         E E F   G G G#   A B B
In the key of A: A         C C# D   D# E F   F# G G#

A flattened dominant 7th is the same note as the 6th, and is called a 6th chord. A raised dominant 7th is the natural 7th in a major scale and is usually called the major 7th, written as 'maj7'. Some purists insist on calling a 7th chord a "flatted 7th", and a 6th as a "double-flatted 7th", but this is more common when describing scales rather than chords.

Here are some common 7th chords and shapes to try out with examples shown for A chords:

7th (dominant 7th)
has R, 3, 5, 7
C7 = C, E, G, B
A7 = A, C#, E, G
7sus4 has R, 4, 5, 7 C7sus4 = C, E, F, G, B
A7sus4 = A, C#, D, E, G
maj7 (major 7th)
has R, 3, 5, +7
Cmaj7 = C, E, G, B
Amaj7 = A, C, E, G#
6th has R, 3, 5, 6 C6 = C, E, G, A
A6 = A, C#, E, F#

Here are some 7ths with 5th variations:
7+5 (augmented 7th)
has R, 3, +5, 7
C7+5 = C, E, A, B
A7+5 = A, C#, F, G
7-5 has R, 3, -5, 7 C7-5 = C, E, G, B
A7-5 = A, C#, D#, G

And some minor 7th variations:
m7 (minor 7th)
has R, m3, 5, 7
Cm7 = C, E, G, B
Am7 = A, C, E, G
m+7 (minor sharp 7th or "minor major 7th")
has R, m3, 5, +7
Cm+7 = C, E, G, B
Am+7 = A, C, E, G#
m6 (minor 6th)
has R, m3, 5, 6
Cm6 = C, E, G, A
Am6 = A, C, E, F#
diminished or 0 or dim7 or O7
has R, m3, -5, 6
C0 = C, E, G, A
A0 = A, C, D#, F#
m7-5 (or half-diminished or Ø7 or half-diminished)
has R, m3, -5, 7
Cm7-5 = C, E, G, B
Am7-5 = A, C, E, G
  • There are several conflicting chord symbols in common use. For example a '-' symbol is sometimes used to refer to a minor chord, so a C-7 might mean Cm7 in some charts and not refer to a flattened 7th. This would be more likely on charts that use and # symbols for altered notes, such as: C-7 / F79 / B.
  • Also, see advanced information to learn about conflicting naming conventions for diminished chords. Read on to avoid the confusion.

Implied Notes top

Firstly, all chords automatically assume the 3rd and 5th notes are present, unless there is some indication to exclude either of these notes. The 3rd is critical in providing a major, minor, or suspended "sound" to the chord. The 5th is generally quite unimportant to the sound of the chord unless it's altered (sharpened or flattened), but nevertheless, it exists in all chords unless "no 5" is specified.

When you see a chord showing a note extension, it implies that all other lower note extensions are also included. For example a C9 implies that the 7th, 5th and 3rd are also present. If the composer specifically does not want these extra notes, chords are written showing which notes to add or exclude. For example:

  • C9 = root, 3rd, 5th, 7th & 9th
  • Cadd9 = root, 3rd, 5th, 9th
  • C9 (no 7) = root, 3rd, 5th, 9th

More Chord Extensions top

Here are all the chord notes and their alterations:

Note number: R         m3 3 4   -5 5 +5   6 7 +7   -9 9 +9   11 +11   13
In the key of C: C         E E F   G G G#   A B B   C# D D#   F F#   A
In the key of A: A         C C# D   D# E F   F# G G#   B B C   D D#   F#

Flattened and sharpened 11ths and 13ths duplicate notes available in the lower note variations, however, only one of them is likely to be encountered. A flattened 11th is the same note as the 3rd an octave higher, and doesn't really change the sound of the chord. A flattened 13th is the same as a raised 5th one octave higher, and its use with a normal 5th is not particularly musical. A sharpened 11th does occur (a maj7+11 is popular) even though it's the same note as a flattened fifth, one octave higher. However, a sharpened 13th is the same as the 7th note one octave higher and is rarely seen.

Here are some common 9th chords:

9th has R, 3, 5, 7, 9 C9 = C, E, G, B, D
A9 = A, C#, E, G, B
maj9 * has R, 3, 5, maj7, 9 Cmaj9 = C, E, G, B, D
Amaj9 = A, C, E, G#, B
69 has R, 3, 6, 9 C69 = C, F, G, A, D
A69 = A, D, E, F#, B

7+9 has R, 3, 5, 7, +9 C7+9 = C, E, G, B, E
A7+9 = A, C#, E, G, C
7-9 has R, 3, -5, 7, -9 C7-9 = C, E, G, B, D
A7-9 = A, C#, E, G, A#

m9 has R, m3, 5, 7, 9 Cm9 = C, E, G, B, D
Am9 = A, C, E, G, B
m69 has R, m3, 5 ,6, 9 Cm69 = C, E, G, A, D
Am69 = A, C, E, F#, B

* Note that for a maj9, the "maj" actually refers the 7th, and is played as a maj7 chord with a 9th.

Because 9th, 11th and 13th chords (more details later!) all imply the 7th note, the 7th is often written anyway for clarity, to separate the root note from one or more flattened or sharpened extensions. For example, F#7#9 or F#7+9 indicate that the root note is F#, and that it has the root, 3rd, 5th, 7th and +9 notes.

The 11th is commonly used to give the sound of a major chord one tone below the root note (see substitutions later). It is usually played with just the 7th, 9th, 11th over the root note, or as an added note to the chord.

The 13th chord has a special sound, generally attributed to the 7th note being also played one octave lower than the 13th note. The 9th being absent, present or lowered also gives this chord distinctively different sounds. The 11th is often omitted in a 13th chord.

Here are some common 11th and 13th chords:

11 has R, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 C11 = C, E, G, B, D, F A11 = A, C#, E, G, B, D
11 (no 3 or 5) has R, 7, 9, 11 C11(no 3 or 5) = C, B, D, F A11(no 3 or 5) = A, G, B, D
maj7+11 has R, 3, 5, +7, 9, +11 Cmaj7+11 = C, E, G, B, D, G Amaj7+11 = A, C#, E, G#, B, D#

13 has R, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 C13 = C, E, G, B, D, F, A A13 = A, C#, E, G, B, D, F#
7add13 has R, 3, 5, 7, 13 C7add13 = C, E, G, B, D A7add13 = A, C#, E, G, F#
13-9 has R, m3, 5, 7, -9, 11, 13 C13-9 = C, E, G, B, D, F, A A13-9 = A, C#, E, G, A#, D, F#
maj13 has R, 3, 5, +7, 9, 11,13 Cmaj13 = C, E, G, B, D, F, A Amaj13 = A, C#, E, F#, B, D, F#

And here are some chord shapes to try:
C11 C11 G11
C13 C13 G13 C13-9

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