Chord a Day, February 27th - Am9
Learn a new Ukulele chord every day of the year. The chord for February 27th is Am9.
Harmonic Function for Am9
The Harmonic Function of a chord is simply how is a chord being used, in context with other chords in a song or chord progression. Here are the most common harmonic functions for today's chord.
Harmonic Analysis, Scales and Modes
All harmonic and scale analysis utilizes Roman Numerals
related to its major or parallel major scale (
Today's chord might also be called Cmaj7 and/or — the list can go on and on with more and more obscure chords. It all depends on the harmonic situation and the chord's harmonic function that it is being used in that determines the name of the chord. A bass player can change the function of a chord with the bass note they play, as that can be perceived as the root or letter name of the chord. Bass players have extreme harmonic powers, and they can use it for good or evil.
What's really useful is you don't have to learn a new fingering or voicing for other same shape chords when they come up. If you recognize the chord as another chord that is common in your repertoire, you can re-use it in the current context.
Here is a cool, fun exercise: *7alt —
alt, short for alteration. This is telling you that you are free to create the seventh chord with any upper partial extension ( 9th, 11th, 13th) and any alteration(s) that you would like: ♭9, ♯9, ♯11, ♭5, ♯5, ♭13. An example would be C7alt, the base C7 is C E G Bb – the 1 3 5 ♭7. You're free to add D♭, D♯, F♯, G♭, G♯, A♭. So your possible notes available are: C D♭ D D♯ E F F♯ G♭ G G♯ A♭ B♭. Notice B, the major seventh is NOT available. So, bottom-line is — if your chord does not contain a major seventh, you can justify every other note you are playing.
So when it comes to that dominant seventh chord or tri-tone sub resolving to what would be its I chord. And, if you don't know what to play, grab any shape and go for it. You have a 1 in 12 shot of hitting that major seventh, which would be really hard to justify a B7alt — B is the major seventh.
Including the 3rd and b7 goes a long way in keeping the intent of the base 7th chord. So, you have tow more noes to muck around with — BUT NOT the major seventh. Walk over to any piano and play the two-white keys together, and you get the why.
Open Position Chords
Today's chord, Am9 is an Open Position chord.
Open Position Chords are any chord in the first four frets that include at least one open string.
Today's chord, Am9 is one of, or based on one of, the Big Six Core
for creating your 4-part, contemporary chord foundation and
Life Beyond the Third Fret.
Learn a New Chord Each Day!!!
This Learn a New Chord Each Day!!! series of lessons was created and published in 2013 (10yrs ago) and has been added to an expanded ever since. 2020 brought videos to the show. 2023 is bringing more Harmonic information.
For a further exploration of this chord and its movable forms visit the Movable Ukulele Chords Lesson Series page.
To find out even more than you would ever need to know about a Am9 chord — continue reading .
Chord Type(s): Minor 5-part
Chord Categories: Open Position
Related Lesson: Understanding a Chord Diagram
Open Position chords typically do not show the location of the root or letter name of the chord as these chords are the first chords a ukulele player learns and are almost entirely learned by shape and sound – hopefully, the chords' name. Later on, one develops the ability to determine the location of the chord root(s) or letter name within the chord.
Standard Music Notation and TAB
The same numbering notation of TAB can be used to describe the open strings and frets to be played when using text only notation or verbal communications. Using an open position C as an example, we can describe it as 0003 indicating open strings four, three, and two with fret (3) being fingered on string one. An open position D7 indicated as 2020.
Today's chord, Am9 is a derived chord from Am7 . Take any chord progression with Am7 in it and explore substituting Am9 for Am7.
Chord Spelling is simply knowing what the notes, the chord tones of a chord are.
The notes of all chords can be determined from its corresponding major scale based on the root of the chord and numeric formula.
The notes for Am9 are:
A C E G B
The chord tones are the 1 b3 5 b7 9 scale degrees of the parent A Major Scale .
Revisiting Am7 from January simply raise the root, A to B for a minor 9th.
Another famaliar chord shape from Januarary's chords: Cmaj7.
Although additional fingerings are possible for many chords. Fingering for any given chord depends the science of how our fingers work and on the harmonic context the chord is being used in, what was the previous chord and what's the next chord. The goal is to play all the notes right behind the frets when possible. Remember longer fingers can reach the lower strings better and finger two and stack on finger three and finger three can stack on finger four.
Although you can play any chord with any finger — as long as it's yours, the recommended fingering for Am9 is:
0 0 0 1
Here are a few alternate fingerings for today’s Am9 chord depending on the context the chord is being used.
Alternate fingering(s) for Am9:
- 0 0 0 2
- 0 0 0 3
- 0 0 0 4
Fingering notation for a chord using text only, without using a chord grid, is typically done using the finger numbers from left to right, string four to string one (nose to toes). Here is the text notation for January 1st C chord.
A Typical text representation of a chord fingering without using a chord grid.
Additional alternate fingerings might be possible for selected chords. If there isn't an overwhelming musical reason for one fingering over another, let efficiency be the determining factor. Something as simple as longer fingers can reach the lower string four and three goes a long way to being efficient when switching chords.
Factors such as playing notes right behind the fret takes less effort than in the middle of the fret. Less effort leads to overall efficiency in play, lower maintenance for maintaining your technique and efficiency leads to speed. This can help in determining what finger to use. Finger three can overlap finger four and finger two can overlap finger three a little allowing them to get closer to the fret.
Remember – the thumb's primary role is to support the fingers – not play notes. Think of the thumb as a Stagehand. He is unseen, doesn't get any lines BUT is a critical member of the team.
Chord Construction, Notes and Intervals
ALL chords can be be constructed based on the their intervals relative to the major scale of the root or letter name of the chord. The individual names of the notes of the chord can also be determined from the same scale.
The chord tones for Am9 are: A C E G B
Am9 is the 1 b3 5 b7 9 of the A Major Scale based on the root (A) of the chord.
Major Seventh Chords, maj7
A major 7 chord is created by raising the flat seven of a seventh chord one fret.
A major 7 can also be created from a major triad by lowering the root one fret.
A 9th chord is a 5-part chord.
For a 5-part 9th chord, the root is implied and displaced for the ninth. Optionally the 3rd of a 7th chord can be lowered two frets (a whole step) for 1 9 5 b7. This really works if you have already played the chord with the third present and establishing the color of the chord.
To create a ninth chord raise the root of a 4-part chord two frets. This applies to a 7th, maj7, m7, 6, m6, m7b5, etc… Most all 4-part chords can be turned into ninth chords. For a 7th chord this would be a 9 3 5 b7.
This same process can be applied to a triad by raising the root two frets. For these chords they are typically called add2 or add9 chords.
Chords are pretty flexible and can be implied by containing the notes of the chord that make it different then another chord types with the same root. Take C and Cm, C is C E G and Cm is C Eb G. The third of the chord the E or Eb is a color tone and is responsible for making a major chord different sounding then a minor chord with the same root.
After memorizing todays Am9 chord and able to switch in time with other chords. The next step is adding various Strums , Fingerpicking patterns, and exploring the Movable Chord versions of today's chord, to your ukulele skills.
End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!
Related Lessons, Videos, Lesson Series, Songs, Books & Reference Charts, Resources & Assets, Workshops are below.
Related Lessons for
Chord a Day, February 27th - Am9.
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Most players struggle with learning the names of the notes of the ukulele fingerboard. There doesn't seem to a pattern and notes repeat. There is an easy way and "it's easier that you think." Most players know the names of the open strings for their favorite tuning.
Movable `Ukulele Chords
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Reading Ukulele TAB - Alternate Notation
"TAB" or "Tablature", is an alternate form of musical notation, which tells players where to place their fingers on a particular instrument rather than which pitches to play. TAB is sort of a secret language between guitar players and ukulele players. Although a shortcut to getting started it actually serves to alienate one from the rest of the music world.
The Learning Process - The Mind, Hands and Ears
For music and learning an instrument like the ukulele or guitar, it's all about the making the connection between your Mind, your Hands, and your Ear. When listening to music, we enjoy it at the tempo the composer or artist intended, in real time. Only the ear is involved in listening. This is passive listening and you're simply enjoying the music. This is what we do every day and it's what draws us to want to learn a musical instrument.
The Harmonized Major and Minor Scale Charts
The "Major Scale" or Ionian scale is a diatonic scale, made up of seven distinct notes, plus an eighth which duplicates the first one octave higher. In solfege these notes correspond to the syllables Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti/Si, (Do), the Do in the parenthesis at the end being the octave of the root.
Transposing Individual `Ukulele Chords
"Transposition" is the process of moving a note, chord, scale or any musical passage from one key to another key. All music can be transposed, from a single note to a complex musical score. This lesson deals with transposing chords on ukulele and transposing chords.