How to play

How to play the C#m9 chord on guitar

Enhance your playing with this jazzy chord, as heard in "Stairway to Heaven."

The C#m9 chord

The C#m9 chord, pronounced "C sharp minor ninth," is a rich and complex chord that adds a dreamy, ethereal quality to music. It's built by stacking a minor third, perfect fifth, minor seventh, and major ninth intervals above the root note. The C#m9 is commonly used in jazz, neo-soul, and R&B genres to create lush harmonies and evoke a sophisticated, introspective atmosphere.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common C#m9 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for C#m9 chord

The most common way to play the C#m9 chord on guitar is as a barre chord on the 4th fret.

Follow these finger positions to play a C#m9 chord on your guitar:

  1. Barre your index finger across all six strings at the 4th fret.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 5th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 6th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 6th fret of the 2nd (B) string.

To strum this chord, play all six strings together in a downward motion, starting from the low E string (thickest string) and moving towards the high E string (thinnest string).

How to play an easy C#m9 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the C#m9 chord, try playing a regular C#m chord (x46654) and adding your pinky finger on the 4th fret of the 1st (high E) string. This will give you a C#m(add9) chord, which has a similar sound but is easier to play.

How to play a C#m9 bar chord

While the standard C#m9 chord is easier to play, learning the barre chord version allows you to move the shape up and down the fretboard to play other m9 chords.

Here's how to play a C#m9 bar chord:

  1. Place your index finger across strings 1-5 on the 4th fret, creating a barre.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 5th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 6th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 6th fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  5. Strum from the 5th (A) string down.

Common C#m9 chord progressions

The C#m9 chord is often used in jazz and neo-soul progressions to add a sophisticated, dreamy, or melancholic feel. Some common chord progressions featuring C#m9 include:

  • i9 - iv9 - VII9 - III9 (C#m9 - F#m9 - B9 - E9)
  • i9 - V7 - i9 - IV7 (C#m9 - G#7 - C#m9 - F#7)
  • i9 - ii9 - V7 - i9 (C#m9 - D#m9 - G#7 - C#m9)
  • i9 - iv9 - VII7 - III7 (C#m9 - F#m9 - B7 - E7). Used in "Maiden Voyage" by Herbie Hancock.
  • i9 - V7sus4 - i9 (C#m9 - G#7sus4 - C#m9)

Drills to master the C#m9 chord

To master the C#m9 chord, try playing it in various rhythmic patterns. Start with simple quarter notes, then progress to eighth notes, triplets, and more complex rhythms. This drill helps build muscle memory and familiarity with the chord shape.

Another effective drill is to practice transitioning smoothly between C#m9 and other chords commonly used in the same key, such as F#m7, A, and B. Focus on minimizing the time and effort required to switch between chords, ensuring a fluid and seamless progression. With consistent practice, you'll find yourself comfortably incorporating the C#m9 chord into your playing.

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Songs that feature the C#m9 chord

Here are 6 popular songs you can play with the C#m9 chord.

  1. Creep by Radiohead (G, B, C, Cm)
  2. Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd (Bm, A, G, D, C)
  3. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin (Am, C, D, F, G)
  4. Wonderwall by Oasis (Em, G, D, A7sus4)
  5. Hotel California by Eagles (Bm, F#, A, E, G, D, Em)
  6. Dust in the Wind by Kansas (C, Am, Dm, G)

How a guitar teacher can help

If you feel stuck in your playing, it might help to take personalized guitar lessons with an expert guitarist. Taking lessons with a pro gives you access to the skills, feedback, and motivation to reach your goals.

You can find expert guitar teachers to support you in the journey. Thousands of people have turned to online guitar lessons on Til, instead of traditional in-person lessons, because Til gives you access to the best teachers in the world from the comfort of home. And with flexible scheduling, secure payments, lesson recordings, and a private chat with your teacher–there’s never been a better way to learn guitar.

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