Chord Workbook Questions

Chord Workbook Questions

Chord Workbook Questions

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Chord Workbook Questions

Q: I’m studying your chord workbook vol 1 where you state the add 9 is a structure that replaces the 3rd with a 2nd. I’ve read elsewhere that the sus 2 is the structure that replaces the 3rd with the 2nd and the add 9 is the 1,3,5,9 structure. Any help would be greatly appreciated on my chord workbook questions.

A: Nice to hear from you. Unfortunately there are many things in music that have multiple names. Scale names for instance; there are an extreme number of ways musicians identify a scale. Some of this is caused by different schools choosing a particular system, different countries having a musical history that they are following; and then there are musicians who get “creative” with new names. Here is one that I get a kick out of: There is a famous jazz school in the USA that calls the “Dorian” scale the “Miles Davis” scale. That’s how extreme it can get.

That said, yes, there are many ways that people identify a chord with an added nine. Unfortunately this is one that gets really crazy. We can divide the craziness up into two categories:

1. A 3 note chord which in the key of C would have the notes C,D,G. Off the top of my head I’ve seen this chord called:

  • 1. C add 9
  • 2. C add 2
  • 3. C sus 2
  • 4. C sus 9
  • 5. Moo major (Steely Dan came up with that one)
  • 6. C omit 3 add 9
  • 7. C omit 3 add 2

You could also replace any of the above is C major then any of the extensions. i.e. C Major add 9

2. A 4 note chord which in the key of C would have the notes C,D,E, G. Off the top of my head I’ve seen this chord called:

  • 1. C add 9
  • 2. C add 2
  • 3. C Major add 9
  • 4. C Major sus 9

So in my experience musicians usually ask the composer in rehearsals exactly what chord they are referring to when they see this structure. Since I work as a musician in New York City where you have musicians from all over the world these multiple names for musical scales and chords can drive you a bit nuts but you just have to deal with it.

I wish I had an easy answer for you, but at least now you know you are not crazy or unknowledgeable, there is just still a lot of confusion on the naming of things in music. My guess is it’s going to take another hundred years before it’s all sorted out. the important thing is to know how to play the two structures I’ve listed above. The C, D, G is much more common while the C, D, E, G is usually played in only a few places on the guitar by playing a triad and adding the “D” as the top note. So usually that is voiced C, E, G on the D, G, and B strings with the “D” note being placed on the high E string.

Let me know if this is clear and if you have further questions.

Response: Thank you so much for that thoughtful, articulate and detailed

response. It was like a peak into the backstage. You’re the man!

It is also recommended that you read Bruce Arnold’s Blog at his artist site. It contains more discussion of the musical topics found in these FAQs as well as other subjects of interest. You will also find the “Music Education Genealogy Chart” located here which shows you the historic significance of the music education products found on the Muse Eek Publishing Company Website.

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