• Ask Jermaine: “What Are Major 2 Chords?”

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano

    Since I skipped a week of Ask Jermaine, I’m back with another one — this time, regarding major 2 chords.

    This question comes from Obinna Peter:

    “Just awesome Jermaine, what you’re doing here… thanks alot. Please, I would like to ask this question that has been torturing me for a while here. What does this means for example: Eb major 2 or Eb 2? Each time i see it i’d pause for awhile. I know recently u taught about sus2 & sus4 which I really understood very well. But, honestly speaking I don’t know what Eb major 2 or Eb2 means. Please, can u explain? Thanks!”

    My Answer:

    Great question Obinna.

    Major 2 chords are actually much simpler than you think… and you’ll laugh once I explain them.

    As a general rule, any time you see numbers, they almost ALWAYS relate to the scale.

    So in this case, even if you didn’t know what Eb major 2 (aka – Eb2) was, you could make a guess that it probably has something to do with the second tone of the Eb major scale:

    Eb is 1, F is 2, G is 3, Ab is 4, Bb is 5, C is 6, D is 7.

    Major 2 Chords Explained

    When you see major 2 (or just simply “2”) appended to any root note, it simply means to add the 2.

    C major 2 means:

    Take your C major chord (C + E + G)

    And add the 2nd tone of the C major scale (which is D):

    That’s how you get major 2 chords. It’s really that simple.

    Here’s another voicing you’ll hear the pros use:

    Note: You can play the D and E with your thumb. Just place it right in the middle and kill 2 birds with one stone.

    Major 2 Chords vs “Add 9” Chords

    I’ll tell you why you don’t see the “2” in chords notations that much… because it’s often looked at as the “9.”

    In music, there are so many ways to look at things… and depending on whether you’re being super technical or lackadaisical, you can say the same thing several ways.

    For example, if I said C major add 9, you might think:

    (And this would be more correct because, while the 9 is the same as the 2nd tone of the scale, it’s more reserved for notes in the NEXT octave. That means: C is 1, D is 2, E is 3, F is 4, G is 5, A is 6, B is 7, C is 8, D is 9. Notice how we kept counting above 8 when we got to the next octave — and when you play extended chords like ninths, elevenths, thirteenths, you’re usually using tones from the NEXT octave.)

    But that doesn’t stop people from also looking at C major add 9 as this:

    (Which is the same chord we explained above as our C major 2).

    So truth be told, major 2 chords and major “add 9” chords are often times looked at as the same thing but now you truly know the difference. Another way to see them is as inversions of each other since you have the freedom to order your notes any way you want.

    Major 2 Chords vs Sus 2 Chords

    Recall, in this lesson, we talked about sus2 chords.

    Sus 2 chords use the 2nd tone of the scale in place of the 3rd tone.

    So whereas a C major chord is normally C + E + G — which is the 1 + 3 + 5 of the C major scale played all together — the Csus2 chord is C + D + G, which removes the “E” (3rd degree) altogether.

    With major2 chords, you aren’t suspended anything so it’s simply C + D + E + G). It’s an “add on” rather than a replacement.

    I hope this has unraveled the mysteries of major 2 chords for you!

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    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!


    { 10 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Obinna Peter

    Wow Jermaine, I’m so glad today, cause i simply felt like President Obama replied my mail today… I’m so happy and also i would like to acknowledge ur quick response to my question. You even opened it all up more than I expected for me Sir and even more hahaa wow, God bless u for me Jermaine together with ur family.


    2 latasha williams

    thank you so very much for help me play by ear i love the dvd i have to or to go this is latasha williams from mobile al i am 26 i love gospel and jazz


    3 Don

    Hello Jermain: Two things: I really love the “Robot” Piano…because even though I know how to read chord symbols and the notes in that chord – I never knew which placement of notes, inversions, etc. to use (and not use). With your midi files I can begin to play and get a sense of how these chords/notes are best played. Secondly, it isn’t always easy to determine the name of these chords; personally, I’d love a lead sheet along with each midi file or some way to know the precise chord names, since some of these really juicy close harmony chords I can’t name with certainty (and that would help me for memorizing and applying to other songs).


    4 car wax

    hello love your efforts have a ganders of mine


    5 Stuart Ramsey

    Thankyou. Band in a Box was doing my head in when i could not find any add 9 chords only CMajor2 which I thought might be ok to use but was not 100% sure.


    6 David Brakes



    7 Damian Hood

    Is a Major 2 chord also referred to as “type 2”?

    I’m trying to figure out how to play “C type 2” on the piano…

    thanks, Damian


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