The C major ninth chord is a bright and breezy major chord. It can be used as a substitution for the tonic chord in a chord progression, particularly in a jazz setting. In other words, if you see a “C” chord symbol, try using this in its place.
Learn how to play the Cmaj9 chord on your guitar, then try it out in the example chord progressions further down the page.
If you have any questions about anything covered on this page then feel free to ask away in the comments section.
Notes In A Cmaj9 Chord
A C major ninth chord contains the notes C, E, G, B and D.
However, in the C major ninth chord featured on this page, the perfect fifth note (i.e., the G) has been omitted. (In general, the perfect fifth note can be omitted from many chords, as it doesn't have much bearing on the overall sound.)
The roles of the remaining notes in the chord are shown below:
- C = root
- E = major third
- B = major seventh
- D = ninth
A synonym of the Cmaj9 chord is: C major seventh add 9 (Cmaj7add9 or Cmaj7 9).
How To Play The C Major 7 Add 9 Chord
If you’re used to playing chords such as this, the C maj7 add9 chord shouldn’t present you with too many difficulties.
If this kind of chord is new to you, then you may find that having to avoid playing the top E string is a little challenging.
You’ll need to be precise with your strumming, taking care not to play the top string. The second (index) finger can act as a mute, preventing the E string from ringing (sometimes having the fingers of the fretting hand mute the strings is actually desirable!)
How To Use This Chord
None of the four notes in this Cmaj9 chord shape are repeated, which means that, despite it being a relatively complex chord, it still has a clear, “small” sound. You won’t be treading on the piano / keyboard player’s feet too much if you throw this into a chord progression.
Although there is no barre, the chord contains no open strings, and is therefore a moveable chord.
This means that you could move the same chord shape up two frets, and it would become a Dmaj7 add9. Move it up a further two frets and it’s an Emaj7 add9.
The major seventh and added nine tones in this chord means that it likely fits best in a jazz / jazz-fusion context, where chords such as this are used in place of major chords and no one bats an eyelid.
The "bright and breezy" major 7 and added nine tones also give this chord a Latin sound, so try playing it with a bossa nova style, using it as a I chord in Latin chord progressions (see the Latin example chord progression, below).
You could also try using this chord in the place of a standard C major chord in chord progressions in other styles of music. It probably won’t sound great in rock / metal, but it could be used to spice up a pop or folk chord progression. Try it and see how it sounds!
Example Chord Progressions Using The Cmaj9 Guitar Chord
The chord progressions below demonstrate the Cmaj9 chord's sound. We've suggested a style for each progression, but you can experiment trying the same chords in other styles.
Try adding a Cmaj9 chord at the end of each of the progressions; it's a nice chord to end a song with.