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Db7#9 Piano Chord

    Piano Diagram of Db7#9 in Root Position

    Db7 sharp9 Chord - Root Position - Piano Diagram

    A Db7#9 chord is an altered dominant seventh chord that is built upon the key of Db. This chord consists of the root Db, the major third F, the perfect fifth Ab, the minor seventh Cb, and the sharp ninth E. The Db7#9 chord can be used as a substitute for dominant chords only in specific musical contexts. Keep reading to learn more about the music theory that underpins this chord.


    Structure of Db7#9


    Db, F, Ab, Cb, E


    R, 3, 5, m7, #9

    How to play a Db7#9

    To play a Db7#9 chord, you can use the following voicing: start by playing the root note Db with your left hand. Then, with your right hand, play the notes F (major 3rd), Cb (natural B, the minor 7th), and E (natural E, the sharp 9th).

    Db + F, Cb, E

    This approach will result in a simplified Db7#9 chord that includes only the essential notes: the root note, major 3rd, minor 7th, and sharp 9th.


    Db7#9 Chord Inversions


    The Db7#9 chord has a total of 4 inversions:

    Root Position: Db F Ab Cb E
    1st Inversion: F Ab Cb Db E
    2nd Inversion: Ab Cb Db E F
    3rd Inversion: Cb Db E F Ab
    4th Inversion: E F Ab Cb Db

     Piano Keyboard Diagrams

    Db7#9 Chord - Root Position - Piano Diagram

    Db7#9 Chord – Root Position

    Chord Inversions on Piano

    Having a solid understanding of chord inversions is a crucial element of music theory since it sheds light on how chords are constructed. When it comes to playing chord inversions on a piano, it’s essential to keep in mind that the charts and graphs depicting the order of notes may not always be feasible or even playable.

    To achieve the proper chord voicings on a piano, you must spread the chord notes across various octaves and positions on the keyboard. This often entails deviating from the typical shape of the chord’s inversions shown in charts, which may not be the most practical or comfortable way to play the chord.

    While chord inversion charts can help understand the structure and sequence of notes in a chord, it’s always a good idea to experiment with different voicings and fingerings to find the most efficient and comfortable way to play the chord, while still preserving its intended harmonic function and sound.

    Music Theory and Harmony of Db7#9


    Dominant 7#9 chords are often referred to as the “Hendrix chord” due to their prominent use in songs like “Voodoo Child“, “Foxy Lady“, and “Purple Haze“. If you know these songs, then you can easily recall the distinct sound and mood of the 7#9 chord.

    The Db7#9 chord can replace or enhance the Db7 chord, typically on the V degree, but also on the III degree, and occasionally on other degrees as a secondary dominant chord. However, it has a distinct funky vibe, so it should be used carefully in the appropriate musical context.

    Before delving into the most frequent usage of this chord, let’s first understand how to construct it.


    Building the Db7#9 Chord: Different Approaches


    Starting from the Db Major Scale:

    To form a 7#9 chord, you combine the root, the major 3rd, the 5th, the minor 7th, and the sharp 9th from a major scale.

    Db Major Diatonic Scale up to 13th

    Db Major Scale


    Db Major Diatonic Scale up to 13th - Keyless Notation

    Db Major Scale


    To create a Db7#9 chord, apply the formula R, 3, 5, m7, #9 in the following manner:

    1. Begin with the Root note, which is Db.
    2. Select the major 3rd interval, which is F, and add it to the chord.
    3. Add the 5th interval, which is Ab.
    4. Add the minor 7th interval, Cb (B).
    5. Finally, select the 9th, Eb, and add a half tone to get the #9th, E.

    By following this simple formula, you can create a 7#9 chord from any major scale.


    by Combining Intervals:

    One method to create a 7#9 chord is by combining specific intervals – a major 3rd, a minor 3rd, and a perfect 4th.

    3 + m3 + m3 + 4 = 7#9 Chords

    For example, to build a Db7#9 chord:

    • we start with the root note Db.
    • We then add a major 3rd interval, which is four half-steps up from the root, to get F.
    • Next, we add a minor 3rd interval, which is three half-steps up from F, to get Ab.
    • Then, we add another minor 3rd so we find the minor 7th Cb and
    • lastly, we add a perfect 4th interval, which is five half-steps up from Cb, to get E.

    Together, these intervals form the Db7#9 chord.


    How to Use Db7#9 in a Chord Progression


    The Db7#9 can work as a substitute or as a passing chord to a Db7 that can be found in major and natural minor scales. The 7#9 chord is considered a non-diatonic chord, which means that it contains notes that are not found in either the major or minor scales. Its unique sound is achieved by adding a sharp 9th interval (which is equivalent to a minor 3rd at the higher octave) to the dominant 7th chord, creating a dissonant yet interesting tonal color.

    Most common uses of Db7#9


    Db7#9 in Gb Major and Gb minor

    The Db7#9 chord is commonly used as a dominant chord. In the key of Gb major, the Db7#9 chord can be used as the V7 chord, which leads back to the I chord (Gb major).

    Major Scale I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Gb Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7 ⇒ Db7#9 Eb min7 Fm7b5
    • Substitute or Passing Chord to the Dominant chord in Gb Major


    Db7#9 as Substitute for Db min7

    The Db7 chord derived from the harmonic minor scale is commonly used to replace a Db min7 chord in the key of Gb minor. In some cases, the Db7#9 chord can also be used instead of the Db7 chord, further enhancing the harmonic tension and leading to the Gb min7 chord.

    However, since Gb minor is a theoretical key, we will refer to its enharmonic equivalent key, F# minor.

    Minor Scale i ii III iv v VI VII
    Gb = F# F# min7 G#m7b5 A Maj7 B min7 C# min7 ⇒ C#7 ⇒ C#7#9 = Db7#9 D Maj7 E7
    • Substitute or Passing Chord to the Dominant chord in F# minor as C#7#9


    Db7#9 in a I – III7 Progression

    The Db7#9 chord is used as a substitution for the III degree in an I – III7 chord progression, which traditionally features a Db minor chord. This chord progression, represented by the chords Bbb Maj7 and Db7, can accommodate the Db7#9 chord in place of the expected Db minor chord.

    Bbb major is a theoretical key and you’ll never find it on a score so it’s more practical referring to its enharmonic equivalent key A major.

    Major Scale I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Bbb = A A Maj7 B min7 C# min7 ⇒ C#7 ⇒ C#7b9 = Db7#9 D Maj7 E7 F# min7 G#m7b5
    • Substitute or Passing Chord to the Mediant chord in A Major as C#7#9


    Db7#9 in Eb minor

    While the Db7#9 chord can be used in the key of Eb minor, it may not be the most common use of this chord. In fact, the resolution to Eb minor may be less strong than Gb major or Gb minor.

    Minor Scale i ii III iv v VI VII
    Eb Eb min7 Fm7b5 Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7 ⇒ Db7#9
    • Substitute or Passing Chord to the Leading Tone chord in Eb minor (less common)


    Db7#9 as Substitute for a Secondary Dominant 7th chord

    A secondary dominant is a type of chord that is not in the main key of a musical piece but is used to create a strong pull towards another chord that is. In Western music, the fifth scale degree has a strong “dominant” function and creates tension that resolves to the first scale degree chord (I). A secondary dominant chord is used to create this same dominant function but towards a different chord, leading to a temporary departure from the main key.

    For example, in the theoretical key of Cb major, the chord of Gb7 is the V chord and leads back to the I chord of Cb Maj7. Adding another chord between Cb Maj7 and Gb7 that creates a strong pull towards Gb7 creates a secondary dominant chord. In this case, using a Db7 chord creates a pull towards Gb7, as Db7 is the V chord in the key of Gb.

    | Cb Maj7 | Gb7 |

    | Cb Maj7 | Db7 | Gb7 |

    Instead of using a regular Db7 chord, you can also use the Db7#9 chord in place of or together with it. This substitution or addition can add more tension and complexity to the progression, leading to a more interesting and dynamic result.

    | Cb Maj7 | Gb7 |

    | Cb Maj7 | Db7/Db7#9 | Gb7 |


    Db7#9 Chord Function in Major and Minor Keys


    Db7#9 as Dominant Chord in Gb Major

    In the key of Gb major, the Db7 chord would be the dominant chord. The Db7 chord can be coupled or substituted by a Db7#9, let’s see how:

    I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7 Eb min7 Fm7b5


    Db7#9 Chord Progressions as V degree

    Try playing these chord progressions to get an idea of how Db7#9 functions near the dominant chord. I like to use it followed by a Db7b9 but feel free to experiment.

    ii V I
    ii V I
    Ab min7 Db7#9 | Db7b9

    Db (F, Cb, E) | Db (F, Cb, Ebb)

    Gb Maj7


    I IV vi V
    I IV vi V
    Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Eb min 7 Db7#9 | Db7b9


     I IV ii V iii vi ii V
    I IV ii V iii vi ii V
    Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Ab min7 Db7#9 | Db7b9 Bb min7 Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7#9 | Db7b9


    Db7#9 as Dominant Chord in Gb minor

    Check C#7#9 in F# minor


    Db7#9 as III7 Degree in Bbb Major

    Check C#7#9 in A Major


    Db7#9 as Leading Tone Chord in Eb minor

    In the key of Eb minor, the Db7 chord is built on the leading tone, which is the seventh note of the scale. This chord can be replaced or modulated by a Db7#9, although it may not be the most ideal position for this chord. Nonetheless, it can still be a valid option in certain musical contexts.

    i ii III iv v VI VII
    Eb min7 Fm7b5 Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7


    Db7#9 as VII degree – Chord Progressions


    i iv VII i
    i iv VII i
    Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7#9 | Db7b9 Eb min7


    i iv VII III
    i iv VII III
    Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7#9 | Db7b9 Gb Maj7


    Circle Progression
    i iv VII III VI ii V7 i
    Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7#9 | Db7b9 Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Fm7b5 Bb7 Eb min7


    Alternative Db7#9 Nomenclature

    • Db 7+9
    • Db 7(#9)
    • Do# 7#9
    • Db 7#9th
    • Db dom7#9
    • Db Dominant 7th #9
    • Db Dominant Seventh Sharp Ninth



    The chord progressions and examples presented in this post provide a comprehensive overview of the most common uses of the Db7#9 chord. It’s important to note, however, that there are many advanced harmony-related topics that could not be included due to space constraints. These topics include chord progressions built on harmonic and melodic scales, modal scales, hidden tonality, secondary dominants and other chord substitutions, non-functional harmony and atonal music, modal interchange and borrowed chords, voice leading and counterpoint, chromatisms, jazz harmony…I mean, music theory is a huge topic!

    Although I couldn’t cover all of these topics in my post, I encourage readers to continue exploring these areas in their own study and research. By expanding your knowledge in these advanced areas of music theory, you can gain a deeper understanding of the harmonic possibilities that exist beyond the basics presented here.


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