# Okay, now that I understand how chords are built, help me read them

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Noobai, Oct 16, 2002.

1. ### Noobai

Aug 25, 2002
Stanford, CA
Okay, what does it mean when on a piece of music I see

CMaj13b7b

Etc? What do all the numbers along side it mean? Is it like a clef symbol, with what is flat etc? Im confused :|

Apr 30, 2000
Melnibone
3. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
I doubt you'll see CMaj13b7b written on a score, it makes no sense. The numbers after it refer to degrees of the scale added to the chord. 7 = minor (or flattened) 7th, 9 = flattened 7th and 9th, 11 = flattened 7th, 9th, and 11th (same as 4th), 13 = flattened 7th, 9th, and 13th (same as 6th). maj7 means major (or natural) 7th as opposed to minor 7th. The flats come before the 'number' they apply to, and mean that the added note is flattened - i.e. a semitone lower. A sharp would mean it's sharpened - i.e. a semitone higher.

so C7 = C major plus minor 7th, i.e. C E G Bb
C9 = C major plus minor 7th and major 9th i.e. C E G Bb D
C11 = C major plus minor 7th, major 9th and perfect 11th, i.e. C E G Bb D F
C13 = C major plus minor 7th, major 9th and major 13th i.e. C D G Bb D A
Cmaj7 = C major plus major seventh i.e. C E G B
Dm7 = D minor plus minor 7th i.e. D F A C
F7b9 = F major plus minor 7th and minor 9th, i.e. F A C Eb Gb
G7b9#9 = G major plus minor 7th, minor 9th, and augmented 9th i.e. G B D F Ab A#

etc. etc, you get the idea. I've never seen maj13 as you mention in that example, I would imagine it would be major 7th, 9th and 13th - like a normal 13th but with major 7th. I've never seen it written though. These voicings I've given are generally not necessarily how these chords would be voiced. E.g. you might well not play C9 as C E G Bb D - you'd rearrange the notes, and quite possibly not play the root, and possibly not the fifth. In a Jazz setting, at least. The important ones are the 3rd, 7th, and 9th in that case - you might just play E Bb D (if you were a piano player and the bass player was putting a C at the bottom anyway). And for C13 for example I might well just play E A Bb D. I've just used those voicings with all the notes included in order here to illustrate how the chords are built up.