How to play

How to play the Em9 chord on guitar

Unlock the dreamy sound of Em9, featured in hits like "Wonderwall" and "Iris."

The Em9 chord

The Em9 chord, pronounced E minor ninth, is a rich and moody guitar chord that adds a touch of sophistication to any progression. It's commonly used in jazz, R&B, and neo-soul genres to create a dreamy, introspective atmosphere. Notable songs featuring the Em9 chord include "Sunflower" by Rex Orange County and "Redbone" by Childish Gambino, showcasing its versatility and emotional depth.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common Em9 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for Em9 chord

The Em9 chord is typically played starting on the 7th fret as a barre chord.

Follow these finger positions to play a Em9 chord on your guitar:

  1. Place your index finger across all six strings on the 7th fret, forming a barre.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 8th fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 9th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 9th fret of the 3rd (G) string.

To strum this chord, use your pick or thumb to play all six strings together in a downward motion.

How to play an easy Em9 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the Em9 chord, try this:

  1. Place your index finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th (D) string.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Leave the 1st (high E) and 2nd (B) strings open.
  4. Strum from the 4th string down to the 1st string.

How to play a Em9 bar chord

The Em9 chord is typically played as an open chord, but learning the barre chord version can be useful for playing higher up the neck or transitioning between other barre chords.

Here's how to play an Em9 barre chord:

  1. Place your index finger across the 7th fret, covering all six strings (barre).
  2. Place your middle finger on the 8th fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 9th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 9th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  5. Strum from the 6th (low E) string down to the 1st (high E) string.

Common Em9 chord progressions

The Em9 chord is often used in chord progressions to add a dreamy, nostalgic, or melancholic feel to the music. Here are some common chord progressions featuring the Em9 chord:

  • i - bVII - bVI - bVII (Em9 - D - C - D)
  • i - bVI - bVII - bVI (Em9 - C - D - C)
  • i - bVII - iv - V (Em9 - D - Am - B7)
  • i - v - bVI - bVII (Em9 - Bm - C - D). Used in "Champagne Supernova" by Oasis.
  • i - bVI - III - bVII (Em9 - C - G - D). Used in "Wonderwall" by Oasis and "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day.

Drills to master the Em9 chord

To master the Em9 chord, try practicing a simple drill where you pluck each note of the chord individually, letting each note ring out before moving on to the next. This will help you develop a feel for the chord and ensure each note sounds crisp and clear.

Another effective drill is to strum the Em9 chord in various rhythmic patterns, starting with simple downstrokes and gradually incorporating upstrokes and more complex rhythms. This will help you build muscle memory and enable you to transition to the Em9 chord smoothly while playing songs.

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Songs that feature the Em9 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the Em9 chord:

  1. Wonderwall by Oasis (Em7, G, D, A7sus4)
  2. Fast Car by Tracy Chapman (C, G, Em, D)
  3. Daughters by John Mayer (Em7, Cmaj7, G, Bm7, Am7)
  4. Jeremy by Pearl Jam (Em, G, D, C)
  5. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town by Pearl Jam (G, D, Em7, Cmaj7)
  6. Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day (G, D, Em, C)
  7. The Unforgiven by Metallica (Em, G, C, Am)
  8. Estranged by Guns N' Roses (Dm, C, B♭, F, Gm, E♭)
  9. Clocks by Coldplay (Em7, Cmaj7, G, Bm7, Am7)
  10. Santeria by Sublime (Em7, A7, Dmaj7, G7)

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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