Dominant seventh sharp ninth chord (7#9) - Guitar diagrams and voicings
Ninth chords (minor 9, major 9, dominant 9) are theoretically built with 5 notes, a root (1), a major or a minor third (3 or b3), a perfect fifth, a minor seventh (b7) or a major seventh (7) and naturally a ninth (9). What interests us here is an altered chord named dominant seventh sharp ninth chord which is generally written 7#9. This is a dominant 7th chord whose ninth is raised by a semitone, giving a #9. It is just as simple as that. Before taking a look at the different 7#9 guitar chord positions, it is better to know and understand how to build a dominant seventh chord.
Dominant 7th chords
A dominant seventh chord is a major triad with a minor seventh (b7) making it it containing four notes ; a root (1), a major third (3), a perfect fifth (5) and a minor seventh (b7).
|G major triad||G||B||D||X|
|G dominant 7th chord (G7)||G||B||D||F|
You will find below three basic dom7th diagrams to play on the guitar. There are many voicings and positions to play them. For more diagrams, you can check the lesson about dominant 7th guitar chords.
Dominant 7th chord diagram - Root on the E string
Dominant 7th chord diagram - Root on the A string
Dominant 7th chord diagram - Root on the D string
Dominant 7#9 guitar chords - Diagrams and voicings
Now that you know how to build dominant 7th chords, you just have to add the ninth to the dominant 7 chord and raise it with a semitone to get a dominant 7#9 chord. As it is shown in the chart below, by adding a 9 to a dominant 7 chord you obtain a dom9 chord and by raising the ninth you get a 7#9 chord.
|Dominant seventh chord||1||3||5||b7|
|Dominant 9th chord||1||3||5||b7||9|
|Dominant 7#9 chord||1||3||5||b7||#9 (b3)|
7#9 chords have a blues sound because of the major third and the minor third. Indeed, as you can see in the chart above, the #9 can be considered as the minor third (b3). This type of chord is often referred as the Hendrix (Jimmy) chord because of its use in Purple haze. There is much of it in many jazz-blues compositions and very used by hard-bop musicians as Wes Montgomery (Four on six, Full House, D natural blues), Kenny Burrell (Chitlins con carne), Grant Green, Lou Donaldson and many more.
Dominant 7#9 chords can be written 7+9 or 7#9.
What scale to play over ?
Here are the three main positions to play dominant seventh sharp ninth chords on the guitar. As already mentioned before, 9th chords are theoretically made up of five tones, but it is physically difficult to play all of them. That's why the fifth (5) is generally omitted. It is the least important notes which make up the 7#9 chord.
Dominant 7#9 chord - Root on the E string
Dominant 7#9 chord - Root on the A string
Dominant 7#9 chord - Root on the D string
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Last edited: 16/04/2017