• # One Of The Smartest Ways To Remember Chord Extensions In Any Key

If you’re interested in learning how to remember chord extensions in any key, this lesson is for you.

So many years ago, I always hear the following terms:

• Ninths
• Elevenths
• Thirteenths

…around musicians, especially when chords are named. As I learned more about chord theory, I found out that these terms are basically chord extensions and are relevant to the study of and formation of extended chords.

Today, we’ll be learning how these chord extensions can be mastered in every key, but before we do so, let’s discuss briefly on extended chords.

## A Short Note On Extended Chords

A chord can be classified as an extended chord if its width exceeds the compass of an octave.

Using the note C (as a reference):

We’ll have C to C:

…as an octave.

All chords with this C note (as their root):

…that exceed the compass of its octave (C to C):

…are classified as extended chords because their width are literally extending beyond the compass of an octave.

Due to the fact that he term octave is associated with the number eight, we’ll classify chords that are described using bigger quantities (like ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths) as extended chords.

## “What Are Chord Extensions?”

Chord extensions are chord tones that their interval from the root of the chord exceed the compass of an octave. There are three known chord extensions:

• The ninth
• The eleventh
• The thirteenth

For example, in the major thirteenth chord in the key of C:

…the root (which is C):

…the third (which is E):

…the fifth (which is G):

…the seventh (which is B):

…are all within the compass of the octave (which is C to C):

Other chord tones like the ninth (which is D):

…the eleventh (which is F):

…and the thirteenth (which is A):

…all exceed the compass of the C to C octave:

For all chords with the root note C:

…chord extensions are D (the ninth):

…F (the eleventh):

…and A (the thirteenth):

### “How Are Chord Extensions Applied?”

These extensions can be added to seventh chords to produce extended chords. For example, the ninth (which is D):

…can be added to the C major seventh chord:

…to produce the C major ninth chord:

It can also be added to the C minor seventh chord:

…to produce the C minor ninth chord:

…or to the C dominant seventh chord:

…to produce the C dominant ninth chord:

“In A Nutshell…”

Extensions are chord tones that are used to transform seventh chords to sophisticated, extended chords and that’s why the knowledge of chord extensions in all twelve keys is of the greatest possible importance.

Let’s learn how to figure out extensions in any key.

## How To Remember Chord Extensions In Any Key

Irrespective of the key you’re in, you can remember chord extensions – the ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth tones – using these two tricks.

I am doubly sure it would work for you because it’s worked for me.

### #1 – Using “The Major Scale” Knowledge

If you’re familiar with the tones of the scale in a given key, remembering chord extensions becomes a walk in the park for you.

Chord extensions like the ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth, in a given key are the second, fourth, and sixth tones of that key.

“Here’s How It Works…”

The second tone is the ninth

The fourth tone is the eleventh

The sixth tone is the thirteenth

In the key of A major:

…the second tone (which is B):

…is the ninth.

The fourth tone (which is D):

…is the eleventh.

The sixth tone (which is F#):

…is the thirteenth.

So, using the knowledge of the major scale, chord extensions can be determined in any key.

## Final Words

There are so many reasons why a musician should know chord extensions in all twelve keys and we’ll be exploring them in a subsequent lesson.

Meanwhile, apply the concept you just learned until you get to that point where you can naturally determine the ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth tone in any given key.

See you in the next lesson.

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#### Chuku Onyemachi

Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group
Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku (aka - "Dr. Pokey") is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Abigail Taylor

Dear bro. Jermaine, God bless you and family, and all the staff workers. Thank you again for all you do. I find the blogs are so great, and I prefer this more than any other way. I do not like to work out complicated items, as it takes away time from my limited time. Also I do not have a computer with CD player, and I am not interested in getting anymore. (Church commitments and other duties that takes me away from home). Thank you again. Love in Jesus to you and family, and other staff workers. Abigail