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Upper Partials and Chord Extensions

PUBLISHED: Sep 24, 2013 UPDATED: May 15, 2019VIEWS: 48 • LESSON CODE: UL42L4-ext

Instruments: ukulele ANY guitar Subjects: intermediatechords

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Upper Partials and Chord Extensions

A chord extension or upper partial are the chord tones above the octave and not one of the fundamental 4-part chord tones. These are the ninths, elevenths and thirteenths of chords.

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All chord extensions on ukulele will displace a fundamental chord tone. This is even true for guitar with the ability to add the extension to another string.

C Major Scale Tones to the 13th

The 8, 10 and 12 are NOT used as extensions or upper partials as they are fundamental chord tones and duplicate the 1, 3, and 5 of the chord.

C Major Chord Tones to the 13th

Using Cmaj7 as an Example

From any voicing of a Cmaj7 chord. You can then use the upper partial as a passing tone or just add it to the Cmaj7 creating new Cmaj type chord.

Here are four voicings of Cmaj7 from my book, A Guide to Advance Chords for Ukulele

The top note (string 1) of each chord is heard as the melody note of the chord.

D, F, F# and A can be added to make Cmaj7 a Cmaj9, Cmaj11 (rare), Cmaj7#11 or a Cmaj13 (rare). A 9th can also be added a C6 chord for a 6/9 chord.

Adding the 9th - D

  • 0 0 0 2
  • 0 0 0 4 Cmaj9

Adding the 11th - F

  • 5 7 7 7
  • 5 7 7 8 Cmaj11 very rare and typically for major chord types the 11 is an augmented 11 (#11): 5 7 7 9)

Adding the 13th - A

  • 9 11 8 10
  • 9 11 8 12 (Cmaj13, Another rare chord. Typically C6 is called for).
    • 0 0 0 0
    • 2 4 3 3
    • 5 7 5 7
    • 9 9 8 10

Basically add the note not in the original chord to create a new chord voicing.

Harmonizing Melodies

This is the same principle used to harmonize any melody note. An example is to harmonize a D melody when a Cmaj7 chord is called for. A D melody note and a Cmaj7 chord creates a Cmaj9 chord. Find the Cmaj7 with a C as the highest note on the voicing and move the C note to D. For a modern sound play the voicing with E as the top note and lower the E to D for more contemporary sounding chord.

This principle can be applied to any melody note, not just notes from the scale that the chord came from. Just find the closest chord voicing to the melody note and raise or lower the chord tone on that string to get the correct melody note.


A little theory or a lot of theory depending on where one is in their development goes a long way.

One of the most influential musicians in my development always said "Tools not rules". Learn the principles behind music and it's a liberating moment in your development.

For complete study of 4-part chords and how to create them, ( Blatant self promo coming ), see my Advanced Chord Series of books for Guitar and Ukulele.

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Related Lessons

Related Lessons for Upper Partials and Chord Extensions at this time.

Chord Substitution on `Ukulele • Updated: Apr 1, 2014

A chord substitution is when one chord replaces another chord or is used in addition to a current chord.

This lesson covers some of the underlining principles that are used to substitute one chords or a series of chords for another.

This particular lesson is for ukulele. However the chord substitution principles relate to any instrument.

Chord Alterations • Updated: Mar 3, 2014

The "fifth", "ninth", "eleventh" and "thirteenth" of a chord can be altered. Alterations can be applied 1, 2 and 3 at a time. The alternations give a chord added color or tension.

Related Books

Related Books for Upper Partials and Chord Extensions at this time.

A Guide to Advanced Ukulele Chords - Volume I
Updated: Feb 13, 2020

Beyond learning basic Ukulele chords most players struggle with advanced chords. Commonly called <q>jazz</q>chords, these more sophisticated voicings find a wide use in all forms of music. A Guide to Advanced Chords for Ukulele - presents a highly organized and efficient approach to the mysterious subject of advanced chords. Chord dictionaries are not the answer.

Harmonic Analysis for Scale Selection and Chord Substitution
Updated: Apr 12, 2021

Harmonic Analysis is the understanding of the functional sequence of chords. It is the process used to analyze the harmonic structure of a progression, song or composition. This analysis is then used to make scale selections for improvisation and chord substitution.

Related Lesson Series

Related Lessons Series for Upper Partials and Chord Extensions at this time.

Core Ukulele Chords - The Big Six Updated: Jan 1, 2003

Core Chords for Ukulele, The Big Six - From four F7 chord voicings or shapes, your can build your massive 4-part, a.k.a., “jazz” chord vocabulary. Beyond basic open position chords, basic movable form chords and a core set of 4-part chords. There are just too many chords shapes too memorize.

The Big Six Core Chords - Level One Updated: Jan 1, 2003

The Big Six Core Chords - Level One include: Seventh 7, Major Seventh maj7, Minor Seventh m7, Half Diminished Seventh or Minor Seven Flat Five diminished 7 (m7b5), Diminished Seventh °7 and Augmented Seventh +7. These six chords form a core set of chords.

The Big Six Core Chords - Level Three Updated: Jan 1, 2003

The The Big Six Core Chords - Level Three series of chords that build on the Bix Six Core Chords and form the foundation for ALL your jazz chords include: Diminished Major Seventh ( dimL7 ) and Augmented Major Seventh ( augL7 ).

The Big Six Core Chords - Level Two Updated: Jan 1, 2003

The Big Six Core Chords - Level Two series of chords that build on the "Bix Six Core Chords" and form the foundation for ALL your jazz chords include: Major Sixth ( 6 ), Minor Sixth ( m6 ) and Minor-Major Seventh ( mL7 ).

Related Lesson Files, Resources and Assets

Related Assets for Upper Partials and Chord Extensions at this time.

A Guide to Advanced Chords Series - Chord Building Chart Updated: Dec 31, 2016

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