Jazz Theory 101 – How To Play Chord Extensions

Do youpremium-upgrade-150x150 want to learn more about jazz theory and jazz harmony? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

In today’s jazz theory lesson we’re going to explore a very important concept called chord extensions.

1. After watching and reading this lesson you’ll understand how to make all your jazz piano chords sound much more beautiful.

2. You’ll also have a greater understanding of what all those #’s mean (9’s, 11’s 13’s etc.) when you seem them on chords in a chord chart.

To get started learning how to add all those beautiful color notes take a few minutes and watch the video below. Then scroll down for some extra resources and very important tips.

Jazz Theory Basics Chord Extensions Video


7 Tips To Help You Learn This Jazz Theory Lesson

1. Jazz Chord Basic Notes

In jazz, the basic notes of a chord are the root, the 3rd, the 5th, and the 7th of the chord. You’ll find some type of root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th in every chord type.

This is true for major jazz chords, minor jazz chords, half diminished chords, dominant piano chords, etc. etc.

2. Chord Extensions Are Where The Magic Is

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Just using the root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th is ok. To really make your chords sound richer though you’ll want to add notes like the 9th, 11th, and 13th.

These chord extensions can really make a big difference and make your chords sound so much better!

3. The 9 minus 7 Jazz Theory Shortcut

There is an easy shortcut you can use to figure out your chord extensions more quickly. All you need to do is to refer back to your major scale and add the number 7th. Let me explain.

4. How To Easily Figure Out The 9th Of A Chord

To figure out what the 9th of a chord is you just need to know what the 2nd note is in the scale and then add 7. The 9th of a chord is the same as the 2nd of a chord.

  • Ex. 1: In the key of C the note D is the 2nd note. So, since D is the 2nd it’s also the 9th.
  • Ex. 2: In the key of Eb the note F is the 2nd note. So, since the F is the 2nd it’s also the 9th.
  • You can do this with any scale or any of the jazz modes. Just count up and find the 2nd note.

5. How To Easily Figure Out The 11th Of A Chord

To figure out what the 11th of a chord is you just need to know what the 4th note is in the scale and then add 7. The 11th of a chord is the same at the 4th of a chord.

  • Ex. 1: In the key of C the note F is the 4th note. So, since F is the 4th it’s also the 11th.
  • Ex. 2: In the key of Eb the note Ab is the 4th note. So, since the Ab is the 4th it’s also the 9th.

6. How To Easily Figure Out The 13th Of A Chord

To figure out what the 13th of a chord is you just need to know what the 6th note is in the scale and then add 7. The 6th of a chord is the same as the 13th.

  • Ex. 1: In the key of C the note A is the 6th note. So, since A is the 6th it’s also the 13th.
  • Ex. 2: In the key of Eb the note C is the 6th note. So, since the C is the 6th it’s also the 13th.

7. How To Apply Chord Extensions To Real Jazz Tunes

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If you want to learn a step by step method to play all these chords in real jazz songs than I encourage you to check out The Premium Membership Course.

(Over 16 hours of video training in the course, downloadable notation, 2 hour of packed updates every month, MIDI files, jam tracks, songs, licks, improv drills and more. You can check it out here —> The Premium Online Jazz Training Library.

The course is especially useful if you’re short on time and want to speed up the learning process of mastering these chord extensions.

More Jazz Theory Resources

After working with over thousands of students both privately and in my courses I’ve noticed that most students need a deeper understanding of jazz theory.

You can find more jazz theory tips in many of my free sample vids and tons of jazz theory training in all the courses I’ve created.

If you’re looking for some beginner level jazz theory lessons you can check out this sample lesson on the secrets behind the ii-V-I, this lesson that lists the ii-V-I in all 12 keys, or this easy jazz piano Summertime tutorial

For some more advanced sample training I encourage you to check out this solo jazz piano reharmonization lesson (tons of jazz theory concepts in that one).

Or you can check out this lesson on dominant chord extensions.

I’ll be releasing a lot more of this jazz theory tutorials in the next month or so. In the meantime get some practice in and further your art form today! Happy practicing.

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Do you have questions on this lesson? Feel free to leave a comment below.