#1
Ok so Im going through a jazz book and came upon a Cmaj9 chord that had no C at the root note but did have the 3,5,7, and 9, of the chord. So my question is that even if a chord does not have the root but does have the other notes within the scale of a given chord will it still be considered as the chord that it is listed as, in this case a Cmaj9?
#2
Well, it all depends on context.

You've probably also noticed that Cmaj9 without the C is an Em7.

Whether it's one or the other depends on the musical situation the chord is in.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#3
Quote by Jet Penguin
Well, it all depends on context.

You've probably also noticed that Cmaj9 without the C is an Em7.

Whether it's one or the other depends on the musical situation the chord is in.

Theres really no musical context. Im going through a jazz book now and its just giving different voicing for the CMaj9 chord and only one voicing has the R-C
#4
Then they're the same. If you play Em7 in the context of what would normally be a Cmaj type harmony, it's Cmaj9.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#5
Quote by Patsfan1281
Theres really no musical context. Im going through a jazz book now and its just giving different voicing for the CMaj9 chord and only one voicing has the R-C
It's common in jazz to use rootless voicings, because the root is often left to the bass. So what the book is saying is that you can use that voicing (which is Em7 as it is) when you see Cmaj9 on a chart - IF there's a bass player too. It certainly won't sound like Cmaj9 without the C.
(A context where C is implied will generally mean the bass playing a C.)
It's true that Em7 can often sub for Cmaj7 (the iii chord is said to have a "tonic" function), but that's not quite the same thing. Em7 sounds very similar, especially in a C major key context, where you'd expect a Cmaj9 to occur. But it's still a different chord.
Last edited by jongtr at Aug 30, 2015,
#6
as jet penguin and jongtr said..in essence-it depends on context of the situation...your example of a book showing voicings that can be used and named a C MAJ-XX is most likely showing you all the possible voicings...ted greenes chord chemistry has pages of different voicings for the same named chord..some havine no 3rd/no 5th etc..but in a certain context ( a chord melody or used as an ending chord) the chord name is accurate because of its function in the tune..so in a one word answer I would say yes
play well

wolf
#7
Quote by jongtr
It's common in jazz to use rootless voicings, because the root is often left to the bass. So what the book is saying is that you can use that voicing (which is Em7 as it is) when you see Cmaj9 on a chart - IF there's a bass player too. It certainly won't sound like Cmaj9 without the C.
(A context where C is implied will generally mean the bass playing a C.)
It's true that Em7 can often sub for Cmaj7 (the iii chord is said to have a "tonic" function), but that's not quite the same thing. Em7 sounds very similar, especially in a C major key context, where you'd expect a Cmaj9 to occur. But it's still a different chord.


Oh ok, so its sorta like a slash chord in that context meaning that, you dont need to play the bass or root notes since that would be the bassist job?
#8
^ Well, it's not a slash chord. But you usually expect the bassist to play the root note, so you don't have to include it in the voicing you are playing on guitar.

But yeah, it's the same idea. In non-slash chords the bass is playing the root, so you don't have to play the root. In slash chords the bass is playing the third or fifth or seventh or whatever, so you don't need to play that note. That doesn't mean you shouldn't play it, but you don't have to play it because you can be quite sure that the bass is going to play it. This way it's easier to play the proper extensions (especially on guitar), because you have one less note to worry about.
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#9
Remember the overall chord formation comes from all instruments /vocalists involved.

So, if it's just you, and you use that voicing, the chord's root is E ... you'd have Em7.

If there's one or more perfect 5th intervals in the chord, the lowest 5th interval is the root.

In Em7, E->B is the p5.

x 7 9 7 8 x chord
x 7 9 x x x p5 ... E is the p5 root, and only p5 in above voicing. Hence E is chord root.

Add C to chord to get

8 7 9 7 8 x

The lowest p5 is

8 x x x 8 x (the C in bass, and G)

Play the C an octave higher ... depends what voice you choose

0 15 9 7 8 x (closest "feasible" example on guitar ... on piano, easy. play the 15th fret with right hand 1st finger, and play chord using right hand 4th finger),

There are 2 p5's above ...

0 x 9 x x x (E is root of this interval) and

x 15 x x 8 x (C is root of this interval)

E is lower pitched than C in that voicing. E is chord root.

But, lose the B (replace by C) ...

0 7 10 7 8 x

Only p5 present is

x x 10 x 8 x

and that intervals root is the C. The bass E makes itself heard strongly, as the chord root is buried in the middle of the chord in a higher register. Lost the bass E, the chord root stands out more.

x 7 10 7 8 x

Add back in a treble B ...

x 7 10 7 8 7

All change ... the p5 is now

x 7 x x x 7 ... we're now back to an E chord root.


Also bear in mind that the ear remembers collectively over time, so if a 5th gets added in , say in a bass line, it will do the job ... this isn't an instantaneous snapshot ...

So, either include the 5th in your chord voicing, else get someone else to add it, "nearby" in elapsed time, and the intended chord root will come out.

cheers, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Aug 31, 2015,
#10
Quote by Patsfan1281
Oh ok, so its sorta like a slash chord in that context meaning that, you dont need to play the bass or root notes since that would be the bassist job?
I have nothing to add to the excellent replies above!

(Oh all right then... )

Cmaj9 = Em7/C (and vice versa) - two ways of indicating the same chord.

If you're playing in a band, and you see "Cmaj9" on a chart, you can play Em7 - and it might actually sound better for you to leave out the C, if the bass has it. It sounds cleaner that way, and usually in jazz that's the effect you want - just enough notes to indicate the harmony and no more. Moreover, the fewer notes you have to play, the more options you have for shapes/voicings. In a jazz Cmaj9 you could probably leave out the G too, because the 5th merely supports the root, and the bass could be playing both. (In rock it's different - often you want a wall of sound with everything doubled! Especially the roots and 5ths! )

It's always worth learning rootless voicings for all chords, if you're playing jazz - and these will usually appear as different chords, because (as with Em7/C) the 3rd will then appear to assume the role of root. But it's important to stay aware of the true chord root, even when you're not actually playing it.
Last edited by jongtr at Aug 31, 2015,
#11
Exactly. Although this works EVEN if I'm playing by myself.

If I play an Em7 after a II-V in C, it's probably going to sound more like the I chord than the III chord, whether or not the pitch C is present. In a solo guitar situation it's not going to screw everything up if I use rootless voicings.

I could rootless voice the entire II-V, and play Fmaj7-Bm7b5-Em7. Set up right, it'll sound like Dm9-G9-Cmaj9, even if I'm the only one playing.

Playing an Em7 after a B7 is going to sound like Em7, of course.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#12
Quote by Jet Penguin
Exactly. Although this works EVEN if I'm playing by myself.

If I play an Em7 after a II-V in C, it's probably going to sound more like the I chord than the III chord, whether or not the pitch C is present. In a solo guitar situation it's not going to screw everything up if I use rootless voicings.

I could rootless voice the entire II-V, and play Fmaj7-Bm7b5-Em7. Set up right, it'll sound like Dm9-G9-Cmaj9, even if I'm the only one playing.

Playing an Em7 after a B7 is going to sound like Em7, of course.


If no C is being played at all, the effect is quite weak ... so, I like preceding what you suggest (Em7) with at least one or two appearances of C (if I'm unaccompanied).

The subs (Fmaj7-Bm7b5-Em7) unaccompanied seems to strongly invite Cmaj7 after it, to me (rather than the Em7 doing the job of Cmaj9).
#13
Well they aren't subs, they're rootless voicings of a II-V in a major key, which is why the C sounds so right afterward. But yeah, I'll usually mix things up, I won't stop on an Em7, I might do the opposite of what you suggest and play the Em7 first and make my way down to a more 'sane' harmony.

Weak or not, it's the same implied harmony in the big picture, it all comes down to taste after that I suppose.

Context is king. This whole idea works with more extreme examples as well. Maj7#9 anyone?

Nope, just me. I'll let myself out.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#14
Quote by Jet Penguin
Exactly. Although this works EVEN if I'm playing by myself.

If I play an Em7 after a II-V in C, it's probably going to sound more like the I chord than the III chord, whether or not the pitch C is present.
True to some extent, because you're expecting a C.
But - although it sounds good and logical - it's still clearly not a resolution - not just because of the absence of the C, but the presence of the B. To my ears it sounds like a kind of wink: "hold on, we're not finished yet...."
I would certainly expect something else to happen after it, in a way I wouldn't if I heard a C-root chord.
Quote by Jet Penguin

I could rootless voice the entire II-V, and play Fmaj7-Bm7b5-Em7. Set up right, it'll sound like Dm9-G9-Cmaj9, even if I'm the only one playing.
I'm less convinced about that. I guess it depends what you mean by "set up right"
Fmaj7-Bm7b5-Em7 certainly sounds sweet, but I can't make it sound like Dm9-G9-Cmaj9. In comparison it sounds quizzical, unfinished, reflective. All good things, and maybe better things than Dm9-G9-Cmaj9, but still different enough to define it differently. Its not functionally equivalent. Just being closely related doesn't make it the same.

(I'm not quite with Jerry here, because the Em7 doesn't invite a Cmaj7 for me. C triad yes, that would tie it up. Maybe it's down to voicing.... )
#15
Quote by Jet Penguin
Well they aren't subs, they're rootless voicings of a II-V in a major key, which is why the C sounds so right afterward.

Context is king.


A rose by another name :-)

Yup, context truly is king.

BTW: not knocking what you're saying about rootless voicings ... just my observations on sounds I created using those chords.

cheers, Jerry
#16
Quote by Jet Penguin
Context is king. This whole idea works with more extreme examples as well. Maj7#9 anyone?

Nope, just me. I'll let myself out.
That's OK. The Maj7#9 just makes it sound like you dissolved spookily in a puff of smoke instead...
"Hey, where'd he go? He didn't go out the door!"
#17
Quote by jongtr

(I'm not quite with Jerry here, because the Em7 doesn't invite a Cmaj7 for me. C triad yes, that would tie it up. Maybe it's down to voicing.... )


Hi jongtr,

C triad would certainly do the trick. Interestingly, ending on a Cmaj9 after that "F... progression" really doesn't feel complete to me.
#19
Quote by jongtr
That's OK. The Maj7#9 just makes it sound like you dissolved spookily in a puff of smoke instead...
"Hey, where'd he go? He didn't go out the door!"


Well we all know that Jet is actually an eldritch guitar playing daemon from some outer realm...

I agree with you guys about the Em7 resolution being like a "hang on I ain't finished" moment.

As far as setting things up goes, perhaps doing this will make it clearer:

Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7 - A7 - Fmaj7 - Bm7b5(or try Fmaj7#11) - Cmaj7

That way there's stronger resolutions and more context. Register also helps too, I find that playing low E drop 3's doesn't work as well as drop 2's up higher. Compare this:

Dm9 (x5355x) - G13 (3x345x) - Cmaj7 (x3545x) To:

Dm9 (x8 10 9 10x) - G13 (x 8 9 9 10 x) - Cadd9 (x 7 10 7 8 )

Or sub the G9 (Bm7b5) for the G13, and voice it like (x 8 9 7 10).

Those should sound way more C major-ish. And you can always stick in the Em7 if you aren't done. But usually, like you've said, if I'm going for a big cadence I might use a simpler chord, like 6 or add9.

Quote by jerrykramskoy
How you playing Maj7#9 (voicing)?


Jerry, my standby voicing for Maj7#9 is to use a m/maj7 chord off the 3rd.

So, Cmaj7#9 = Em/maj7 (E G D# B). That's definitely another one that needs to be set up.

I normally use maj7#9 as another step "out" from Lydian. So anywhere I'd use a lydian sound over a Maj7 or Maj7#5 chord, that's a valid, albeit rather dissonant extension in my eyes. I also like that chord with a #5 too, but that's even more out. The whole, Lydian#9+ thing is pretty intense.

Not quite Holdsworth territory, but getting there.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#20
Quote by Jet Penguin
Well we all know that Jet is actually an eldritch guitar playing daemon from some outer realm...

I agree with you guys about the Em7 resolution being like a "hang on I ain't finished" moment.

As far as setting things up goes, perhaps doing this will make it clearer:

Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7 - A7 - Fmaj7 - Bm7b5(or try Fmaj7#11) - Cmaj7

That way there's stronger resolutions and more context. Register also helps too, I find that playing low E drop 3's doesn't work as well as drop 2's up higher. Compare this:

Dm9 (x5355x) - G13 (3x345x) - Cmaj7 (x3545x) To:

Dm9 (x8 10 9 10x) - G13 (x 8 9 9 10 x) - Cadd9 (x 7 10 7 8 )

Or sub the G9 (Bm7b5) for the G13, and voice it like (x 8 9 7 10).

Those should sound way more C major-ish. And you can always stick in the Em7 if you aren't done. But usually, like you've said, if I'm going for a big cadence I might use a simpler chord, like 6 or add9.


Jerry, my standby voicing for Maj7#9 is to use a m/maj7 chord off the 3rd.

So, Cmaj7#9 = Em/maj7 (E G D# B). That's definitely another one that needs to be set up.

I normally use maj7#9 as another step "out" from Lydian. So anywhere I'd use a lydian sound over a Maj7 or Maj7#5 chord, that's a valid, albeit rather dissonant extension in my eyes. I also like that chord with a #5 too, but that's even more out. The whole, Lydian#9+ thing is pretty intense.

Not quite Holdsworth territory, but getting there.


Will definitely try out tomorrow. Family calls!!
#21
Quote by jerrykramskoy
How you playing Maj7#9 (voicing)?
If you're asking me, I was thinking of x-3-2-4-4-x.
#22
Quote by jongtr
If you're asking me, I was thinking of x-3-2-4-4-x.


Yikes. Nice stable sound, jongtr :-)

Resolves well ito F13 1-x-1-3-3-x

Nice adding a #4 also x-3-2-4-4-2 --> 1-x-1-3-3-3


Actually, analysing your voicing from first principles, the root is E, formed by the p5th

x-x-2-4-x-x. Try playing an open E in the bass.

0-3-2-4-4-x

See what you think.
#23
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Yikes. Nice stable sound, jongtr :-)

Resolves well ito F13 1-x-1-3-3-x

Nice adding a #4 also x-3-2-4-4-2 --> 1-x-1-3-3-3
I like the #11, but I think it sounds resolved as it is - a spooky final chord. Not sure about the move to Fm (or Fsus13?)

Quote by jerrykramskoy

Actually, analysing your voicing from first principles, the root is E, formed by the p5th

x-x-2-4-x-x. Try playing an open E in the bass.

0-3-2-4-4-x

See what you think.
I agree with the principle, but I don't (quite) hear E as the root myself. I think that C is too disruptive (even without its G). How about this:

3-3-2-4-4-x

Now the low G (thumb) supports C as root. (But I think those 2 4th fret notes are just itching to slide up the half-step....)

Here's another idea (if you can grab it): 8-10-9-8-7-0 !
(Of course, now we're hitting the James Bond chord - E root - but sticking the C on the bottom, and E on top. I like that minor 2nd in there.)

But it was Jet who brought up the idea of this pesky maj7#9. What does HE think??
(It comes from E harmonic minor, so there's an Em vibe hovering around it somehow....)
Last edited by jongtr at Sep 1, 2015,
#24
I think a few things!

I like Jerry's F13sus4 voicing, the Ebmaj7/F. Holdsworth uses the same chord in Tokyo Dream. (Love that tune)

I don't hear E as the root in Jerry's example, but we've established long ago how we differ in our methods of organizing harmony. To each their own.

^To elaborate, I don't hear that chord with an E root for the same reason I don't hear x 7 10 7 8 as having an E root. Re-arranging the notes into a tertian stack off E (for the maj7#9) would make it some weird:

"E with a maj7 but also both a #5 and regular 5 or maybe it's a b13 who knows" vs:

"Cmaj7 (no5) with a #9". One of those makes WAY more sense to me. This strategy works with inversions of more elaborate chords as well, it's the same reason we hear that Ebmaj7/F as an F root, not an Eb. Tensions in the bass TEND to sound like the roots. (soapbox down, not the point).

Minor 7th chords with a #11 are awesome, I use those too. Couple of different scale sources, MM#4 and Dorian #4 come to mind. Very "modern jazz".

I can get behind the F move. The most likely source of a Maj7#9 is going to be on a non-I maj7, so the movement to F isn't totally out there. Maybe try Cmaj7#9 - Gmaj7#5? That's a very modern plagal (IV - I) cadence. Tom Harrell would dig it!

The low C on JonG's chord is nice, but I can't make myself use it because I've been training myself to only play deliberate 4 note harmony, and save 5 and 3 note for more improvisational voicings instead of deliberate forms, but, statistically, I'll steal that at some point

C G B D# F# E = Bmaj/Cmaj

Nice polychord Jon, that's a sweet Cmaj7 (#9 #11). Especially with the P5 on bottom, that's a very pianistic voicing. You can make that a little easier (and INVERTIBLE across string sets!) by cutting out the first harmony and playing Cdim(maj7), AKA B/C. (C D# F# B)

Yeah, Harmonic minor is the go-to source of maj7#9, but there's another one too. The Augmented Scale:

C D# E G(F##) G# B

You can also find this chord in a couple other scales, but it's always maj7#5 (#9)...

But now we've gone off the fusion/modern jazz/contemporary classical cliff. OP, run for it.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#25
Quote by Jet Penguin

C G B D# F# E = Bmaj/Cmaj

Nice polychord Jon
Ah yes, a polychord. I didn't spot that.
I was trying for a way to get the G in as well as the F#, and the top E gave me the 3rd of course. But it also came from the James Bond chord:
Em007 = 0-10-9-8-7-x
Quote by Jet Penguin

But now we've gone off the fusion/modern jazz/contemporary classical cliff. OP, run for it.
Hold on I'm coming too!
No, not that way, that's dodecaphonism!!

... too late.
#26
^Implying there's something wrong with dodecaphonism?
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#27
Quote by Jet Penguin
^Implying there's something wrong with dodecaphonism?
No, only something scary... I mean, if we're saying that "fusion/modern jazz/contemporary classical" are things to run from.
Last edited by jongtr at Sep 2, 2015,
#28
Hi Jongtr.

3-3-2-4-4-x hard to tell. Theory-wise, still E root. Depending how I play this (volume of each note), different ones stand out more. For me, the C or the E grab my atterntion listening closely

0-10-9-8-7-x = Em maj7

8-10-9-8-7-0 = Cm maj7 b5 ... that voicing for sure brings out the C as root
#30
Quote by Patsfan1281
Oh ok, so its sorta like a slash chord in that context meaning that, you dont need to play the bass or root notes since that would be the bassist job?
For the most part, "slash chords", (as a form of notation), are simply intended to show a progression of bass notes through a chord, played on the solo guitar.

If we were talking in terms of piano notation, the notes to the right of the slash, would fall to the left hand. Assuming those notes were on the treble clef (G: ), it wouldn't be a bass run at all, as "middle C" (C4) is on the first line below the G: staff. It's in the "middle" between the G: and F: clef. Hence the name, "middle C".

Music for the guitar sounds an octave lower than it's written. Thus the note you would identify, call, & sound as "middle C" on the guitar, would actually be 8Va (an octave up), or "high C" when notated in the same place, for the piano.

As for your original question, many, many moons ago, my guitar instructor told me, "once a chord has a 7th in it, you not longer have to play the root. Sort of a handy dandy, one size fits all rule. You have to play the root, as long as the chord remains a triad.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Sep 6, 2015,
#31
^Yep. To elaborate, there are two types of slash chords:

1. The Slash Chord: A chord with an altered bass note, the ones we all know too well. C/G is a slash chord, a C with a G in the bass.

2. The hybrid voicing. A hybrid voicing is a chord with a tension (2/9 4/11 6/13) in the bass. This differs from a traditional slash chord because it removes (usually) the 3rd from the voicing. Because of this, we can infer that the bass note of a hybrid is almost always the root of the chord, functionally speaking.

G/C however, is a hybrid voicing. This is not a G chord with a sus4 in the bass. It's a C chord with no third. We get 1 5 7 9 as chord tones. In general we tend to hear tensions in the bass as roots.

Some slash chords: C/G, A/C#, C/B

Slash chord in action: C - C/B - Am - Am/G - D/F# , etc.

Some hybrids: Fmaj7/G, B/C, D/C

Hybrids in action: Em7 - Gmaj7/A - A/D - F#m/B.

^That progression is IIm7 - V13sus4 - Imaj9 - VIm9 in D major.

Not IIm7 - IVmaj9 - V(add11) - IIIm11. That makes WAY less sense sonically than the former.

If that makes sense. Hybrids aren't complete chords, which is why it's so tempting to name them with the bass as the root, but looking at context and function, as well as keeping in mind that we don't always use full tertian harmony allows us to determine the simplest solution with regard to harmonic context. It's like an Occam's razor for chords
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp