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#1 2010-05-09 04:03:19

Astronomikal
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Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

I know almost zero about music theory, but I understand 1-4-5 and some basic things like that.  I have an ignorant question.

I'd like to understand the concept of "9" and why it's not called "2".

Example, a C9 chord is a C with D added at the high end:  x32030.

I understand that D is a "9" of C, so that makes some sense, however, what is the reason to go past 8 (such as in 9, 11, 13)?

In other words (in this specific example), isn't D the "2" of C?  If so, why not call it a C2?  Is it because the D is in a higher octave?

Thanks,
'Nomikal


"Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid." - Despair, Inc.

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#2 2010-05-09 09:55:37

Stonebridge
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From: Cardiff, Wales, UK
Registered: 2008-08-25
Posts: 182

Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

I've often wondered that too!
It's because it follows the following pattern:
Start at the root and by adding 3 and 5 you get the main triad.
Next add 7 to get your 7th (major or diminished)
Next comes 9.
It's just the sequence of adding 3rds above root note.
It indicates (reminds) that the 9th is usually played above the 7th (if present) and in a higher octave as you guessed correctly.
More here
http://juliewaters.com/chordtheory.php

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#3 2010-05-09 17:19:34

jerome.oneil
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Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

It's the octave, and a bit more. 

The bit more is that all extended chords (9, 11, 13) are all just enriched 7s.  That is, any time you see a C9, you could play a C7 and get away with it.   So the 9 is simply a continuation of the method used to build the 7.  You just keep stacking notes as you move higher in the octave.

2 (and 4) are usually tied in with "sus" or "suspended" chords.  That is, you substitute the 2 for the 3, or the 2 for the 4.   As such, you need to stay within the octave.

If you were playing a piano, rather than a guitar, it would be clearer.  Because the fretboard often requires us to "cheat" a bit on the chord structure, it's a bit more difficult to see.


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#4 2010-05-09 18:30:28

Astronomikal
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Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

Thanks guys.  I think I understand.

However, Jerome, I'm hoping you made a typo, otherwise you're going to have to explain a bit further:

>>"2 (and 4) are usually tied in with "sus" or "suspended" chords.  That is, you substitute the 2 for the 3, or the 2 for the 4.   As such, you need to stay within the octave."<<

Did you mean to say:  "you substitute the 2 for the 3, or the 4 for the 3"?

If you meant to say that, then I get it.  If not, then how about using D, Dsus2 and Dsus4 to explain what you mean.

Brings to mind a second question:  What is the difference between a sus2 and an add2?

Thanks.


"Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid." - Despair, Inc.

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#5 2010-05-09 19:14:41

Stonebridge
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From: Cardiff, Wales, UK
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Posts: 182

Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

My interpretation is that a sus 2 is where the 2nd is sounded instead of the 3rd, and then usually "resolves" up to it. Same idea as a sus4 where the 4th is sounded instead of the 3rd. [which I'm sure is what Jerome meant!]
An add2 is where you add the second and sound it at the same time as the 3rd. (and root).
It's not always so clear cut and people have a habit of expressing these chords in different ways.

Last edited by Stonebridge (2010-05-09 19:15:52)

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#6 2010-05-09 21:10:25

jerome.oneil
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From: Bellevue, WA
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Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

Astronomikal wrote:

Thanks guys.  I think I understand.

However, Jerome, I'm hoping you made a typo, otherwise you're going to have to explain a bit further:

>>"2 (and 4) are usually tied in with "sus" or "suspended" chords.  That is, you substitute the 2 for the 3, or the 2 for the 4.   As such, you need to stay within the octave."<<

Did you mean to say:  "you substitute the 2 for the 3, or the 4 for the 3"?

If you meant to say that, then I get it.  If not, then how about using D, Dsus2 and Dsus4 to explain what you mean.

Brings to mind a second question:  What is the difference between a sus2 and an add2?

Thanks.

Yup, that's what I meant to say.  smile

The difference between a sus and an add is exactly that.  With the sus, you suspend the 3rd.   With the add, you play the 3rd, and just add the 2 to the chord.


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#7 2010-05-10 01:52:06

Astronomikal
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Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

Got it.  Thanks to both of you for the education.  It was very . . . well, educational.  smile


"Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid." - Despair, Inc.

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#8 2010-05-18 15:11:21

Bob1950
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Registered: 2010-01-07
Posts: 2

Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

A 9 chord has a 7 in it. 1-3-5-b7-9 or maj9 = 1-3-5-7-9

or m9 = 1-b3-5-b7-9

A sus2 chord does not it's 1-2-5

A suspended chord suspends the 3rd usually a short chord.

Alan Parsons song Eye in the Sky uses the Dsus2 to D.
A first position D chord with an open 1st string.

A sus2 and a sus4 are the same chord with a different root.

Sus2 1-2-5 =C-D-G

Sus4 =1-4-5 = G-C-D

A Csus2 = G sus4

Bob1950

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#9 2010-05-18 15:15:06

Bob1950
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Registered: 2010-01-07
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Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

Sorry Jerome
I didn't see your post before I entered mine.
They have the same info.

Bob1950

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#10 2010-05-18 17:04:49

jerome.oneil
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Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

Totally alright.  More is better!

And your observation on the sus2 being an inversion of the sus4 is a good one.


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#11 2010-05-27 22:40:10

steve441
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Registered: 2007-07-22
Posts: 22

Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

I have a question. Has to do with a 7th chord.
In a D chord you would add C, it being the 7th.
In a C chord you would add a Bb, not a B to get a 7th, even though the C is natural.
Why?

Thanks

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#12 2010-05-28 07:01:01

Arie Orlots
Junior Member
Registered: 2010-05-20
Posts: 6

Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

Hi all...

would you like to help me>
I have a problem to meaning a cord.
What is A4?
I find it in dream theater-spirit caries on song TABS at ...


Thanks very much for to help me.

Last edited by Arie Orlots (2010-05-28 07:02:27)

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#13 2010-05-28 08:58:47

Stonebridge
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From: Cardiff, Wales, UK
Registered: 2008-08-25
Posts: 182

Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

steve441 wrote:

I have a question. Has to do with a 7th chord.
In a D chord you would add C, it being the 7th.
In a C chord you would add a Bb, not a B to get a 7th, even though the C is natural.
Why?

Thanks

There are 2 common "7th" chords - major and minor. When you see "7th" without reference to major or minor it usually means minor 7th.
C with a B is Cmaj7. C with a Bb is C (minor7th) or just C7.
D with a C# is Dmaj7. D with a C is usually just written D7.
The minor 7th is also often called a dominant 7th because it leads back to the basic key.
e.g. D7 (D chord with a C in it) is often the chord that leads back to the key of G.
Hope that helps.

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#14 2010-06-01 20:50:16

steve441
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Registered: 2007-07-22
Posts: 22

Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

Stonebridge,
Thanks for your reply.
This part of it, "The minor 7th is also often called a dominant 7th because it leads back to the basic key.
e.g. D7 (D chord with a C in it) is often the chord that leads back to the key of G." is very helpful in telling me my C7 in question(with the Bb note) is leading back to the key of F(with primary chords of F, Bb, and C)
Also due to the fact that the B is flatted in the key of F.

You explain that my D reference is because I'm playing in key of G(with primary chords of G, C, and D)

My theory knowledge is limited, so I thank you for your help.

Please correct me if what I wrote is incorrect.

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#15 2010-06-01 21:23:01

Stonebridge
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From: Cardiff, Wales, UK
Registered: 2008-08-25
Posts: 182

Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

You've got it.
What you wrote is just fine.

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#16 2010-06-02 21:56:43

jerome.oneil
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From: Bellevue, WA
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Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

steve441 wrote:

I have a question. Has to do with a 7th chord.
In a D chord you would add C, it being the 7th.
In a C chord you would add a Bb, not a B to get a 7th, even though the C is natural.
Why?

Thanks

When we talk about "7" chords, we really mean "dominant 7ths" as opposed to "major 7ths."  And a dominant 7 flattens the 7, wheras a maj7 doesn't.

So a Cdom7 (C7) is C E G Bb, and a Cmaj7 is C E G B.

Ddom7 would be D F# A C, and a Dmaj7 would be D F# A C#.

In both cases the dominant 7 has a flattened 7th, while the major 7 has the unaltered 7.

Make sense?


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#17 2010-06-02 22:25:37

Russell_Harding
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Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

I think you have to keep in mind that in the D major scale both F and C are sharp to begin with D E F#G A B C# D as Jerome has pointed out a Dom7 flats the 7th so the C# becomes a natural, once the sharps or flats of any given key are identified this rule can be applied smile


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#18 2010-06-03 02:55:32

Butch8844
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Registered: 2009-11-16
Posts: 605

Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

It does make a differance on the piano, which gives a lot more options w/ 88 keys

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#19 2010-06-03 04:35:50

thicketof
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Registered: 2010-06-03
Posts: 1

Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

On Sus2 and Sus4 being the same chord with a different root.  this is true but not within the same scale.  That threw me for just a minute on how it could be the same.

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#20 2010-06-03 17:23:18

jerome.oneil
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From: Bellevue, WA
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Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

Butch8844 wrote:

It does make a differance on the piano, which gives a lot more options w/ 88 keys

Quoted for truth.  If you have access to a keyboard, it is much, much easier to visualize the intervals there than on a fretboard.


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#21 2010-06-09 02:45:25

Astronomikal
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Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

Stonebridge wrote:

The minor 7th is also often called a dominant 7th . . .

Part of the reason I think I would have failed music theory is because I'm a (left-brained) engineer.  Let's examine this:

  > Some synonyms for "Minor":  small, miniscule, unimportant.

  > Some synonyms for "Dominant":  powerful, overbearing, important.

My point is that a thesaurus could very well show that "Minor" and "Dominant" are antonyms.

So when Stonebridge points out that "minor ... is also often called dominant ...", my tekkie brain wants to explode.

I get, but to me it's just not logical.


"Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid." - Despair, Inc.

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#22 2010-06-09 08:54:17

Stonebridge
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From: Cardiff, Wales, UK
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Posts: 182

Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

Astronomikal wrote:

Stonebridge wrote:

The minor 7th is also often called a dominant 7th . . .

Part of the reason I think I would have failed music theory is because I'm a (left-brained) engineer.  Let's examine this:

  > Some synonyms for "Minor":  small, miniscule, unimportant.

  > Some synonyms for "Dominant":  powerful, overbearing, important.

My point is that a thesaurus could very well show that "Minor" and "Dominant" are antonyms.

So when Stonebridge points out that "minor ... is also often called dominant ...", my tekkie brain wants to explode.

I get, but to me it's just not logical.

There is a logical reason for this. Sit tight, it may take a while...

The notes of the 8 note scale we all know (CDEFGAB and back to C) have been given names that express where they are in relation to the "tonic". These are
1. Tonic
2. Supertonic (above the tonic)
3. Mediant (middle note of the triad 1.3.5)
4. Subdominant (below, or lower,  dominant)
5. Dominant (most important note of the scale after the tonic)
6. Submediant (lower mediant)
7. Leading note (leads back to the tonic)
8. Tonic (or octave)


The 7th chord built on the 5th note of the scale, called the dominant note, is called a dominant 7th.
(It would be GBDF in the key of C.)
In other words, it's "dominant" not because it's a 7th, but because it's built on the dominant note of the scale.
Strictly speaking, a 7th should only be called a "dominant" 7th when it is, for example, G7 in the key of C. [G being the 5th note in the key of C]
This dominant 7th is important because it is the chord that often leads back to the tonic (base) key.
Over the years, any "minor" 7th has come to be called a dominant 7th because it has the same structure.
So, minor refers to the actual notes in the chord, the structure; but dominant refers to the original idea of this chord being based on the 5th (dominant) note of the scale, and being the most important 7th chord in that key.

I hope it has put your mind at rest smile

Last edited by Stonebridge (2010-06-09 08:56:12)

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#23 2010-06-15 05:24:16

Astronomikal
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Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

Stonebridge wrote:

I hope it has put your mind at rest smile

Thank you, Stone.

Like almost everything else we learn, we first have to forget what we think we know.

I don't want to put words into your mouth, but when you said:

     "The minor 7th is also often called a dominant 7th",

and

     "Over the years, any "minor" 7th has come to be called a dominant 7th because it has the same structure."

I took it to mean they are the same thing.  Maybe that's not what you meant.  I was doing OK with this until I found this page:

http://www.fretjam.com/guitar-chord-theory-3.html

On this page the author draws a distinction between minor 7ths and dominant 7ths, which (to me, a layman) appears to contradict what you said about minor 7ths and dominant 7ths in your earlier posts.

The author explains that a dominant 7th contains a flat 7th:  1-3-5-b7,  whereas a minor 7th contains both a flat 3rd AND a flat 7th:  1-b3-5-b7.


Is the author wrong?  Can you clarify / reconcile?

Thanks.


"Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid." - Despair, Inc.

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#24 2010-06-15 09:29:49

Stonebridge
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From: Cardiff, Wales, UK
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Posts: 182

Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

It's the consequence of the way chords are named.
There are major and minor chords in the same way as there are major and minor keys. In the key of C minor the root chord is the chord of C minor. C Eb G C. In C major it is C E G C.
Normally, the major chord is just written C, whereas the minor chord is written Cm.
If I add a 7th to the chord of C major, I have 2 choices, either the normal (leading note) 7th, which is a B; or the flattened 7th which is a Bb.
In music theory, the B forms a major 7th and the Bb forms what is called a "minor" 7th. Both these are in the key of C major.
Minor 7th here refers to the interval between the tonic C and the 7th. It doesn't mean that the chord is C minor. This is where it gets confusing.
So C E G B is C major, with added major 7th, to give its full title
C E G Bb is C major, with added minor 7th
The 1st usually gets shortened to C7 and the second usually to Cmaj7
Both of these short forms leave out a lot of information and are used because it's convenient and we all understand what they mean.

If you are in the key of C minor it gets even more complicated
If you add a 7th you can get
C Eb G B which is C minor with added major 7th **
C Eb G Bb which is C minor with added minor 7th
You can see the potential for confusion now!
If I say "C minor 7th" do I mean C minor with a major 7th or C minor with a minor 7th or C major with a minor 7th?
The answer is that this naming system for chords is not an exact science and has been simplified to make it easier to use.
There are conventions which guitarists follow where we all usually agree what, for example, C7 actually means.
The use of tabs makes things clearer. Then we know exactly what chord is intended.

To answer your question, the author is sort of right. It is what is usually meant by people when they use the expression.
A "minor" 7th can, strictly speaking, refer to the fact that the chord is minor, and also that the 7th is flattened.
To get around this, the term dominant 7th is used to indicate the case where the chord is major and the 7th is flattened.
As I said, in a major key, it's only the 7th chord on the 5th note of the scale (the dominant) that is naturally major with a flattened 7th.
This is why major chords with a flattened (=minor) 7th have come to be called dominant 7ths.
However, the 7th in this chord, because it is flattened, is called a minor 7th. This distinguishes it from the case where the 7th is not flattened, and is called a major 7th.
So, 7ths can be major or minor, and chords can be major or minor.
The author is, I assume, attempting to simplify this. When he says minor 7th, he is referring to a minor chord with a 7th. When he means major chord with a seventh, he uses the term dominant 7th.
It is confusing. Guitar chord names, in order to be useable, don't tell the whole story; and that's where the confusion lies.

I spent years studying music theory (piano) before I picked up a guitar. I found the naming of guitar chords very confusing initially because of just this way of simplifying the names of the chords.
I hope I've explained this reasonably well, but I may well have just made it more confusing!

** C minor with an added major 7th [C Eb G B] or any similar chord in another key sounds very strange. I can't say I know of any song which has this chord.

Last edited by Stonebridge (2010-06-15 09:45:43)

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#25 2010-06-15 18:51:40

jerome.oneil
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From: Bellevue, WA
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Re: Basic Theory Question - why "9" and not "2"?

Well, minors are built the same way majors are built.  They're just triads (the I, III, and V), based on some modal scale.  If you add the VII to it, that makes it a 7th, by definition.   For minor 7ths, there is no modification of the 7th.   In the C minor example,  one would add Bb.  C minor is relative to Eb major, and shares it's key signature.  B would be out of key, which is why it sounds so dischordant.

For major chords with the VII,  modifying it (flattening, or not) defines whether it's a dominant or major.


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