Suspended ninths - a.k.a. “the country third”

by Bill on April 9, 2011

Licks based on suspended ninths are really common in all kinds of contemporary music - especially pop ballads, folk and country. And they’re not just confined to the piano, either: the so-called “country third” is one of the most characteristic sounds of the last thirty years or so. Best of all, it’s a really simple concept to understand:

Suspended ninths (and their close cousins, suspended fourths) have their roots in church music, and it’s mainly from the hymnal tradition that we get the concept of the major ninth (which, of course, is the same note as a major second) as a resolver on to the major third in a tonic triad.

Like I say in the video, the country third works very well over major chords, but can be a bit problematic over minor chords - but you can usually solve that problem by moving everything up by a minor third.

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