Formulating and memorizing complex chords.
Alot of musicians, especially gospel musicians would like to expand their sound of playing, but just do not understand how to. Gospel music usually consist of complex extended chords such as 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths. It can be hard to understand and even explain, but I have an easy way to help you understand and formulate such complex chords. Ex.
A major 9th, 11th, and 13th chord are only keys that are added to a normal major chord to add more spice to the sound. Some beginners and intermediate players panic when they’re asked to play a 9th, 11th, or 13th chord. Luckily, I am here to show you an easy and unforgettable way to build these chords by using the basic chords you already know and combining them together.
Let us start with a basic C major Chord in our left hand(C, E, and G). We have the root key, which is a C, the 3rd, which is an E, and the 5th, which is a G. Now let us take that G and build a G major chord in our right hand. Notice that our left hand is already playing the G, so you do not need to play the G with your right hand or we would end up playing the same G with both hands. A (G major chord) consists of G, B and D notes. All you would need to do is play the B and D notes with your right hand. Combined, you should be playing C, E, G, B, D which is a C Major 9, or Cmaj9. See below for the break down of why this is considered a Cmaj9.
Let us look at the C major scale and associate it with numbers. C=1, D=2,E=3,F=4,G=5,A=6,B=7,C=8. If we were to continue this pattern then D=9,E=10,F=11,G=13,A=13. When creating 9th, 11th, and 13th, we always look at the odd numbers. Which ever odd number we end with would be considered the name of the major scale. In our Cmaj9 example above, we have C=1, E=3, G=5, B=7, AND D=9. Since we ended on that last D, then this would be considered a C Major 9 (Cmaj9). Let us create a Cmaj11 chord. C, E, G, B, D, F. If you look at those keys, you will notice that each key is an odd number in the C scale with the F at the end, which is the 11th note if we were to continue counting higher in the C major scale.
I personally believe that getting these keys as close as possible provide the best sound, however; you do not need to play every since one of these keys. As long as you have the most important keys which are the root, the 5th, and your 9th, 11, or 13th, which ever extension chord you’re trying to build. You can separate the keys or even rearrange them anywhere on the piano. It depends on your and what type of sound you’re looking for. Here is an example of two different Cmaj11 chords. C, E, G, B, D, F & C, F, B, D. The reason why C, F, B, D is considered a Cmaj11 is because I still have the main ingredients. I have the C, the F which is the 11th, the B, and the D. I rearranged the chord, but it still gives the same affect I’m looking for.
The same method applies for creating a 13th chord. Take the odd numbers of the scale you want, in this case the C scale. C=1, E=3, G=5, B=7, D=9, F=11, AND A=13. This is the Cmaj13 chord. Feel free to take out some notes if you can not or want to play all of them. Just as long as you have the root which is C, and the A which is the 13th and the rest is up to you which you decide to keep. If you are a visual person, notice the C major chord, the G major chord, and the D major chord all combined into one. Remember the next time you want to create an extended chord, to always start with your basic chord, then build from that 5th note and make another major chord. It is a simple ladder trick that can be easily created and memorized.