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How to Compose Jazzy Chords with Easy Piano 2

Bb-9 (13)!!!!

Let’s get right to it, this complex jazzy chord sounds great and opens the door for smooth melodies and rich harmony that will take your writing to the next level!

Today we will dive into this minor chord, the sounds it has to offer, and what easy scale goes with it.

But What Famous Musician Is Really Using This Jazzy Stuff?

Well, my friend, have you heard Jason Derulo’s newest song Lifestyle? It’s pretty hip and features a Bb-9 (13) and a melody based in Bb dorian during the pre-chorus.

You can hear a short clip here and after you listen to it, let’s jump right into playing this chord!

Let’s Play It!

To get started, lets begin in a familar key, the key of D. The foundation of this D-9 (13) will be a D-7 chord. See the diagram below and play with the example.

From here, all we have to do is add two notes to add the 9th and 13th. In D, the E is the 9th of the chord and the B is the 13th. Those extensions are simpily a whole step above the root of our original chord and a fifth apart. This means, E is a whole step above D, and B is five notes away from E.

This short formula for making a minor 9 13 chord applies in every key as we will practice later. Make sure to remeber this formula for later! Play along with the example and the audio file to check your work.

Let’s Add Melody to It

To be able to play melodic lines that are catchy like Jason Derulo’s tune, all we have to do is pair this simple chord we learned with a simple scale.

This scale is easy to learn and is derived from a simple major scale! Follow along with this diagram to play our D dorian scale and then play along with the audio file to internatlize it.

Also, check out this example which features shows a D dorian scale next to its C major origin. Notice how a dorian scale is simply a major scale but starting on the second note! How much easier could something so good sounding get?

What Comes After This Chord?

A common sound following a minor 7th chord with these qualities is a major 7th chord. Follow this example below which begins with our chord D-9 (13) we just formed and then moves into an Fmaj9. Play along with the audio example.

Notice that moving between these two chords requires very little movement. Four notes stay exactly the same while the top voice B of the D-9 (13) chord moves down to A and we add the G which is the ninth of Fmaj9.

This concept exemplifies good voice leading. This is when the movement between chords is subtle, changing the qualities without major shifts in range or intervals.

Putting It All Together

Now that we have constructed our D-9 (13), discovered an associated scale, and talked about progressions and voice leading, let’s listen to this example using all those techniques.

Let’s analyze this example and its characteristics

  • Notice it begins with the chords we practiced on the piano and then just goes up chords in thirds until it gets to C and then repeats
  • When listening, focus on the connections between those chords and how our voice leading example applies to all of them
  • Look at the melody, notice how all the notes come directly come our D dorian scale we practiced
  • Also, the melody is almost completely stepwise, it simply goes down our scale to make a catchy lick

This example chord progression and melody will be provided right here as midi files so you can drop it in your daw and start writing!

Chords and Melody

Extra Practice

Let’s practice by walking through the construction in the key of C now. So play a C-7 chord to begin.

Now let’s add our extensions by following the formula from earlier. It should look and sound like this.

Now, let’s play our C dorian Scale. Remember, this is just Bb major but starting on the second scale degree.

Last, resolve this chord to an Ebmaj9 follow the diagram and recording below!

Starting To Write With Richer Harmonies

After all this practice and cool music, what next? Start with the midi file provided earlier, add a drum beat, loop the chords, and experiment with the scale D dorian scale!

When approaching new concepts like ours today, becoming familiar is the best starting place so you can take your writing to the next level and start incorporating rich sounds in your music.

If you have any questions or requests for future posts, leave a comment below or email and I will be sure to get back to you. Also if you are looking for private lessons regarding harmony, writing, or arranging, reach out to my email and we will be in touch!


Hi, I’m Cj Rhen and I am a composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. You can find some of my work at or on where I write and record high-end sax and horn loops for your music. Also, you can check out my live streams at to see me writing music like this post live and ask questions and chat.


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