Major 9th Arpeggios - Lesson with Guitar Diagrams

What Is a 9th Arpeggio

Major 9th arpeggios are a nice alternative to major 7th arpeggios when you want to add a little bit of color to your jazz lines. A major 9th arpeggio contain 5 notes, and as its name implies there is a major ninth (9) added to the major 7th arpeggio formula, thus giving root (R), major third (3), perfect fifth (5), major seventh (7) and ninth (9). Major 9th arpeggios have the same notes as the chords they are derived from. However, they can be played over any major chords.

CM9 arpeggio C E G B D
Formula 1 3 5 7 9

What's a Major Ninth

A major ninth (9) is a compound interval made up of an octave plus a second (14 semitones). It is an octave larger than a second. It brings specific color considered as dissonant. It should not be confused with the minor ninth (b9) which is spanning 13 semitones (a minor second plus an octave).

Major 9th guitar arpeggio shapes

How To Play Major 9th Arpeggios On Guitar

Here are four guitar shapes to play major 9th arpeggios. The roots (R) of the first diagram are on the sixth, fourth and first string. The second has their roots on the second and fifth string. The two other shapes are designed to be played up and across the neck (diagonal playing, shifting required, 2-3 notes on each string). There are of course many ways to play these arpeggios on the guitar, but if it is the first time that you learn them, it is recommended working on a few positions.

Major 9th guitar arpeggios 3 1

Major 9th guitar arpeggios 4 1

Major 9th guitar arpeggios 1

Major 9th guitar arpeggios 2 1

Superimposed arpeggios

What's A Superimposed Arpeggio ?

You may notice that a major 9th arpeggio contains a minor 7th arpeggio. To get this minor 7 arpeggio start on the major third of the maj9 arpeggio. In other words, the min7 arpeggio is superimposed over the maj7 arpeggio. The example below shows you the Em7 arpeggio (E-G-B-D) into the Cmaj9 arpeggio (C-E-G-B-D). Playing an Em7 arpeggio over Cmaj7 chord makes it sound like a Cmaj9.


Major 9th arpeggio

Major 9th arpeggio 1 3 5 7 9
Major 7 arpeggio 1 3 5 7 X
Minor 7 arpeggio X 3 5 7 9

Arpeggios and II-V-I

The most common chord progression in jazz music is the II-V-I. The next two easy examples show you how to apply arpeggios over a C major II-V-I sequence. We will simply play a D minor 7 arpeggio (or a D minor triad) over Dm7, a G dominant 7 arpeggio over G7 and an Em7 arpeggio over Cmaj7.

 Major 9th arpeggio lick - II V I

In this second example we will play a F major triad arpeggio over Dm7 and a Em7 arpeggio over Cmaj7.

Major 7th arpeggio lick 2

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Last edited: 22/10/2018


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