Identifying the m9 chords using the circle of fifths

On reviewing the Chord Extensions Lessons Supplement, I was working through the circle of fifths. All the major9 chords are provided. A few examples are offered of the minor9. As I was working through the minor 9 open voicings this time around, I noticed that RH was a major7 chord over the root. For C it’s an Ebmaj7, for F it’s Abmaj7, etc.

To play the Cm9, locate C in the relative minor part of wheel. C is the relative minor of Eb. Play C as the root in LH. Play Ebmaj7 in RH. There’s the Cm9.

Start with C in the minor wheel and continue counter-clockwise to play the minor9 in all keys.

Probably easier to count :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:, but after I saw this, I had to play around with it. I’m always amazed when I see how much information seems to be there in the circle of fifths.

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Maybe, it is more usefull to use the original minor scale to stay in the harmony. you trick works but if the composer wrote a Xmin instead of X+3 maj, there is a structural reason.

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Yes these little ‘ah ha’ moments are great Scott…

It’s always nice to discover a little relationship, or pattern in harmony.

What you outline is a very useful relationship to understand.

It’s a great way to visualise these chords when first delving into extended harmony. From what I remember, I used similar techniques earlier on in my jazz piano study.

As @marc421812 mentions, it is important to see that chord as a C-9, and not just as Ebmaj7/C.

By all means use the relationship you have found to help you learn and memorise those minor 9th voicings. If you know your 7th chords, then this trick will help you to drill around all 12 keys quickly.

And you will also be revisiting 7th chords in the process, so win-win.

Here’s what I’d also recommend:

After you find the voicing shape using this trick, then also say to yourself:

“This is C-9”

“This is the root” (play the root)

“This is the b3” (play root-b3)

“This is the 5” (play root-b3-5)

“This is the b7” (play root-b3-5-b7)

“This is the 9” (play root-b3-5-b7-9)

That way we are learning to visualise each scale degree, how each one of those scale degrees sounds, and how the chord develops as we move higher up into the upper extensions.

A final point…

For me, when i look at the notes of Ebmaj7, I also see C-7.

That’s because Ebmaj7 contains Eb and Bb which are the essential chord tones of C-7.

In jazz, a ‘group’ or ‘set’ of notes can often function as many different chords.

I was having an interesting discussion with @niall in the rootless voicings thread, check it out here - Understanding Rootless Voicings - #10 by Hayden - there’s some really useful information in that thread and worth reading over.

Not sure if you have started on rootless voicings yet Scott, but it’s the next course/topic area after extended chords.


It’s a wonderful asset to have by your side at the piano.

I had it pinned to my piano for many years.

When I find something that I like (a particular voicing, scale, line, fill, anything… ) then I immediately take it around all 12 keys and I’m always visualising the circle in my head.

Thanks for sharing this finding Scott… I’m sure others studying the extended chords course will find it a useful to help them visualise those minor 9th voicings.