How to play

How to play the C#7b9 chord on guitar

Spice up your playing with this jazzy chord, as heard in "Desafinado" and more!

The C#7b9 chord

The C#7b9 chord, pronounced "C sharp seven flat nine," is a unique and harmonically complex chord. It's commonly used in jazz, blues, and funk music to add tension and dissonance. The flat ninth interval gives the chord a distinctive "jazzy" sound. Notable examples of songs featuring the C#7b9 chord include Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" and John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme."

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common C#7b9 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for C#7b9 chord

The most common way to play the C#7b9 chord on guitar is as a barre chord on the 9th fret.

Follow these finger positions to play a C#7b9 chord on your guitar:

  1. Barre your index finger across all six strings on the 9th fret.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 10th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your pinky finger on the 11th fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  4. Place your ring finger on the 11th fret of the 1st (high E) string.

To strum this chord, use your pick or thumb to strum downward, hitting all six strings. Alternatively, you can play the chord fingerstyle by plucking each string individually with your thumb and fingers.

How to play an easy C#7b9 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the C#7b9 chord, try playing a basic C#7 chord instead. Place your index finger on the 4th fret of the 5th string, your middle finger on the 6th fret of the 3rd string, and your ring finger on the 6th fret of the 2nd string. Strum only these three strings.

How to play a C#7b9 bar chord

The C#7b9 chord is usually played using individual fingers, but learning the barre chord version can make it easier to switch to and from other barre chords.

Here's how to play a C#7b9 barre chord:

  1. Barre your index finger across the 9th fret, covering all six strings.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 10th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your pinky finger on the 11th fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  4. Place your ring finger on the 11th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  5. Strum all six strings from low to high.

Common C#7b9 chord progressions

The C#7b9 chord, also known as the C# dominant 7 flat 9, adds a dark and tense sound to chord progressions, often used in jazz, blues, and funk music to create a sense of unresolved tension or a yearning for resolution.

  • i7b9 - V7 - i (C#7b9 - F#7 - C#m) Used in "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix
  • i7b9 - bVI7 - bII7 - V7 (C#7b9 - A7 - D7 - F#7)
  • i7b9 - bIII7 - bVI7 - bII7 (C#7b9 - E7 - A7 - D7)
  • i7b9 - #ivdim7 - i6 (C#7b9 - Fdim7 - C#m6)
  • i7b9 - ii7b5 - V7b9 (C#7b9 - D#m7b5 - F#7b9)

Drills to master the C#7b9 chord

To master the C#7b9 guitar chord, start by playing the notes (C#, E#, G#, B, D) individually, ensuring each note rings out clearly. Once comfortable, practice transitioning from a C#7 chord to a C#7b9 chord, focusing on the smooth movement of your fingers.

Next, incorporate the C#7b9 chord into progressions you already know. This will help you develop muscle memory and familiarity with the chord shape. Try playing the chord in different songs and styles to expand your versatility and comfort with the C#7b9 voicing.

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Songs that feature the C#7b9 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the C#7b9 chord.

  1. The Girl from Ipanema by Stan Getz & João Gilberto (F#m7, B7, E7, A6, D7, G7, C#7b9, C#m7)
  2. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin (Am, G#m7b5, C#7b9, F#m)
  3. Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix (E7, G, A, C#7b9)
  4. Layla by Derek and the Dominos (D, Bb, C, G, D/F#, C#7b9)
  5. The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra (F, F#dim, C#7b9, D7, G7, Gm7, C7)
  6. Lush Life by John Coltrane (Db, Gbm7, Db7, Bbm7, Eb7, Abm7, C#7b9, F#7)
  7. Giant Steps by John Coltrane (B, D7, G, Bb7, Eb, F#7, B, F#7, B, F, Bb7, Eb, Am7, D7, G, C#7b9, F#7, B)
  8. Birdland by Weather Report (F#m7, C#7b9, F#m7, C#7b9, F#m7, Amaj7, C#m7, F#7)
  9. Epistrophy by Thelonious Monk (Ab, C#7b9, D7, G7, C7, F7)
  10. A Night in Tunisia by Dizzy Gillespie (Dm, Bbm, A7, D7, Dm, Bbm, A7, Ab7, G7, C#7b9, F#7)

How a guitar teacher can help

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