Extended Chord Spellings

This page usually takes more than a week of discussions and compositions in class, so please contact me with any questions.  You need not try to understnd the entire page in one sitting.  We will be using this information through the end of the school year.  Take it a bit at a time.

Extended X7 Chords - Generally, it boils down to adding the next note in the Triad Order: A-C-E-G-B-D-F-A- ….  So the raw Extended 7 for A would be: A-C-E-G; the raw B chord would be B-D-F-A; ….  It’s like spelling V7 chords.  The only difference is the formula/alterations used.  The basic letter names will always stay the same as the raw chord, but you’ll add more #’s and b’s to create the correct major 3rd or minor 3rd distance beteween pitches.  

To review my notes on these chords and their fomulas, check here.  Don’t forget that the formula of the 7th of a chord, that single note that is added as the 7th is: 

The Major 7th note is a half step down for the root. Ex. C down to B

The Minor 7th note is a whole step (2 half steps) down from the root. Ex. C down to Bb

The Diminished 7th note is a step and a half (3 half steps) down from the root. Ex. C down to Bbb

You can also find this explained in the Music Theory Packet on pages: Diatonic Seventh Chords, The Dominant Seventh and Extended Harmonies.

The extended X7 chords come in 7 different types. Click on the mp3 to hear the chord built on C.

Type = Formula: Chord Name built on the root C = Chord Members

Major 7 = Major Triad with a Major 7th: Cmj7 = C-E-G-B   mp3

Minor 7 = Minor Triad with a Minor 7th: Cm7 = C-Eb-G-Bb   mp3

Dominant 7 (V7) = Major Triad with a Minor 7th: C7 = C-E-G-Bb   mp3

Half Diminished 7 = Diminished Triad with a Minor 7th: Cm7b5 = C-Eb-Gb-Bb   mp3

Fully Diminished 7 = Diminished Triad with a Diminished 7th: Co7C-Eb-Gb-Bbb   mp3

Minor-Major 7 = Minor Triad with a Major 7th: CmMj7 = C-Eb-G-B   mp3

Augmented 7 = Augmented Triad with a Minor 7th  C7#5 = C-E-G#-Bb   mp3

Applying this concept to the chords of the key of C would create the following:

Cmj7 - Dm7 - Em7 - Fmj7 - G7 - Am7 - Bm7b5 

I is Xmj7 - ii is Xm7 - iii is Xm7 - IV is Xmj7 - V is X7 - iv is Xm7 - viiº is Xm7b5

Hear these chords in order.

This pattern holds true for EVERY Major key. Note that the Minor-Major 7, the Augmented 7 and the Fully Diminished 7 are not default chords to a Major key.  They can apear in a Minor key, but that’s another discussion.

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Extended X9 Chords - The next step is to add the 9 to the chord.  This note is, again, the next note in the Triad Order.  You keep the 7 and add the next letter.  A-C-E-G-B in raw form.  This note is also the diatonic second above the root note: In some type of A Chord, the 9 would be some type of B.  Remember the 9, by default, is always a whole step above the root.  (There are chords that are called Xadd9.  These chords would not contain the 7.  You’d find just the basic triad in some form and the whole step above the root.  Note that is not written X+9.  That’s a different chord.)

The extended 9 chords come in 4 different types. Click on the mp3 to hear the chord built on C.

Type = Formula: Chord Name built on the root C = Chord Members

Major 9 = Major Triad with a Major 7th and a whole step above the root: Cmj9 = C-E-G-B-D   mp3

Minor 9 = Minor Triad with a Minor 7th and a whole step above the root: Cm9 = C-Eb-G-Bb-D   mp3

Dominant 9 (V9) = Major Triad with a Minor 7th and a whole step above the root: C9 = C-E-G-Bb-D   mp3

Minor-Major 9 = Minor Triad with Major 7th and a whole step above the root: CmMj9 = C-Eb-G-B-D   mp3

9’s are generally not added to Diminished and Augmented Triads.  They have enough tension on their own.

Applying this concept to the chords of the key of C would create the following:

Cmj9 - Dm9 - Em7 - Fmj9 - G9 - Am9 - Bm7b5 

I is Xmj9 ii is Xm9 - iii is Xm7 - IV is Xmj9 - V is X9 - iv is Xm9 - viiº is Xm7b5

Hear these chords in order. Caution: It takes a lot of practice to hear the difference between Diatonic 7’s and Diatonic 9’s.

Note that you do not add a 9 to the iii chord if you’re staying Diatonic.  That added note, being a whole step above the root, would be F#.  This pattern holds true for EVERY Major key.  

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Are there more Extensions?  Yes, and we’ll talk about a couple.  Most of the other ones get more tense than the average High School Music theory class needs, so we don’t compose with them.  For your information: To get an 11, keep the 7 and 9, and add the next note, raw letters: A-C-E-G-B-D.  A 13 keeps the 7, 9 and 11, adds one more and gives you every note of the scale, raw letters: A-C-E-G-B-D-F.  You can also have altered added tones, ie. b9, #11, ….. That’s for another time.

Added X6 Chords.  In this case, you take the basic triad and add a whole step above the 5th of the chord.  The 6 can be added to Major or Minor Triads.  In all cases, the added note will be a MAJOR 6th above the root, regardless of the quality of the triad.  An added 6 to the chord provides some color, but is more stable than adding a 7.  Click on the mp3 to hear the chord built on C.

Type = Formula: Chord Name built on the root C = Chord Members

6 = Major Triad and a whole step above the 5th: C6 = C-E-G-A   * This chord is just called a 6, (Six) NOT Major Six.  I know it doesn’t quite makes sense why, but that’s just the way it is.   mp3

m6 = Minor Triad and a whole step above the 5th: Cm6 = C-Eb-G-A  * This chord is called a m6, (Minor Six).  Don’t refer to it as a b6 (Flat Six).  That’s something different.   mp3

Applying this concept to the chords of the key of C would create the following:

C6 - Dm6 - Em - F6 - G6 - Am - Bo

I is X6 ii is Xm6 - iii is Xm - IV is X6 - V is X6 - iv is Xm - viiº is Xo

Hear these chords in order.  Same thing.  It takes time.

This pattern holds true for EVERY Major key.  Note that you do not add a default 6 to the iii or vi chord of a Major key, if you’re staying Diatonic.  That added note, being a whole step above the 5th, would be out of the key signature. Staying in the key, you’d have to say: Emb6, as an example. More on that later.  You also don’t use them on Diminished Chords.

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Added X69 Chords, (Pronounced 6 - 9, not sixty-nine). A chord with a 69 is a chord where you substitute a 6 for the 7 in a 9 chord.  That is, raw letters: A-C-E-F-B.  A 69 adds more color than just a 6, but is still more stable than a 7 or 9.  We only use them with Major or Minor Triads.  Click on the mp3 to here the chord built on C.

Type = Formula: Chord Name built on the root C = Chord Members

69 = Major Triad with a whole step above the 5th and a whole step above the root: C69 = C-E-G-A-D   * This makes a good chord for the final measure of a song.   mp3

m69Minor Triad with a whole step above the 5th and a whole step above the root: Cm69 = C-Eb-G-A-D  * This chord has the most tension of the chords that contain an added 6.   mp3

Applying this concept to the chords of the key of C would create the following:

C69 - Dm69 - Em - F69 - G69 - Am - Bo

I is X69 ii is Xm69 - iii is Xm - IV is X69 - V is X69 - iv is Xm - viiº is Xo

Hear these chords in order.  Give it time.

This pattern holds true for EVERY Major key.  Note that you do not add a default 69 to the iii or vi chord of a Major key, if you’re staying Diatonic.  Staying in the key, you’d have to say: Emb6b9, as an example.

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If you compile all of the Diatonic default extensions from above, you get these options for all MAJOR key triads:

I - Xmj7Xmj9X6X69

ii - Xm7Xm9Xm6Xm69

iii - Xm7

IV - Xmj7Xmj9X6X69

V - X7X9X6X69

vi - Xm7Xm9

viiºXm7b5

If you’re composing in MINOR key, it can get fairly complicated if you take into account the 3 kinds of MINOR (Pure, Harmoninc, Melodic). 

These are the Diatonic default extensions in PURE minor triads:

i - Xm7Xm9

iiº - Xm7b5

III - Xmj7Xmj9X6X69

iv - Xm7Xm9Xm6Xm69

v - Xm7

VI - Xmj7Xmj9X6X69

VII - Xm7


These are the Diatonic default extensions in HARMONIC minor triads: 

i - XmMj7, XmMj9 

iiº - Xm7b5

III+X7#5

iv - Xm7Xm9Xm6Xm69

V - X7X9

VI - Xmj7Xmj9X6X69

#viiº - Xo7


These are the Diatonic default extensions in Ascending and Descending MELODIC minor triads: 

i - XmMj7, XmMj9, Xm6, Xm69 

ii - Xm7, Xm6  (Ascending) 

iiº - Xm7b5  (Descending)

III+ - Xmj7#5  (Ascending) 

III - Xmj7Xmj9X6X69  (Descending)

IVXmj7Xmj9X6X69  (Ascending) 

iv - Xm7Xm9Xm6Xm69  (Descending)

V - X7X9X6X69  (Ascending) 

v - Xm7  (Descending)

#viº Xm7b5  (Ascending) 

VI - Xmj7Xmj9X6X69  (Descending)

#viiº - Xo7, Xm7b5  (Ascending) 

VII - Xm7  (Descending)


Using other extensions on chords other than the ones listed above, ie. I - X9 or V - Xmj7, will create a Non-Diatonic/Secondary Chord. 

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