Those 5 notes are consecutive diatonic 3rds: it means that we only use notes from the C Major scale.
The first 4 notes (C E G B) are "chord tones" and the last note (D) is considered an "extension" or "color".
Here is the formula: R M3 P5 M7 M9
Here are various fingerings:
(Scroll down for the video)
Let's now discuss how the C Maj7(9) arpeggio can be used over various chords.
1. over C Maj7
The formula is: R M3 P5 M7 M9
The resulting sound will be: C Maj7(9)
(the Maj7(9) arpeggio is played from the root of a Maj7 chord)
2. over A min7
The formula is: m3 P5 m7 M9 P11
The resulting sound will be: A min7(9 11)
(the Maj7(9) arpeggio is played from the m3 of a min7 chord)
3. over Dmin7
The formula is: m7 M9 P11 M13 R
The resulting sound will be: D min7(9 11 13) or DORIAN (note that there is no m3 in the arpeggio, though)
(the Maj7(9) arpeggio is played from the m7 of a min7 chord)
4. over F Maj7
The formula is: P5 M7 M9 +11 M13
The resulting sound will be: F Maj7(9 #11 13) or LYDIAN
(the Maj7(9) arpeggio is played from the P5 of a Maj7 chord)
Those 4 chords all happen to be diatonic to C Major. That is not surprising when we consider that the C Major scale only has 7 notes, and that our arpeggio includes no less than 5 of them.
However, it doesn't mean that we should play the C Maj7(9) against all seven diatonic chords in the key of C...
For instance, the C Maj7(9) arpeggio against G7 (the V chord in C) would not be a good idea.
The formula would be: P4 M13 R M3 P5
The main problem would be the P4 which is not considered a desirable note on a Dominant 7th chord.
And if we then considered the V chord to be a Gsus7, the problem now would be the M3: it is not considered a desirable note on a sus 7th chord.
Now, if we are looking for a good sus7 sound with the Maj7(9) arpeggio, let's play it from the m7 of the desired sus7 chord.
ex. for Gsus7 play an F Maj7(9) arpeggio
The formula is: m7 M9 P4 M13 R
The resulting sound will be: Gsus7(9 13)
(the Maj7(9) arpeggio is played from the m7 of a sus7 chord)
OK now get ready for a more exotic sound, still generated by our CMaj7(9) arpeggio!
We can use it as an upperstructure over an Ab bass note.
Here's how we can notate it:
C Maj7(9)/Ab =
Ab+Maj7(#9 #11) =
Ab LYDIAN-AUGMENTED #2 =
6th mode from Harmonic Major
In this case, the source scale is C Harmonic Major: C D E F G Ab B (C)
To summarize, the Maj7(9) arpeggio is a nice-sounding, stable group of notes. It is relatively easy to play all over the fingerboard, and it provides some very satisfying melodic material that can be played over a variety of chords.
One last thing; the opening phrase of "I Loves You, Porgy" from the musical "Porgy and Bess" by Gershwin is... a Maj7(9) arpeggio... (you guessed it!)
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