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When I encounter the minor 11 chord in a chart, it has been a puzzle to me. I usually form a major 11 chord by juxtaposing the chord a whole step down from the root. (Bb over C, say.) Introducing the minor third to this configuration has never worked satisfactorily.

Is it like the #9, where the the major and minor third are both used, but an octave apart?

So a C minor 11 would go, from bottom to top: C Eb G [flat seven implied? 9 implied?] then the 11 or F natural above the higher C?

Looking forward to your erudite assistance.

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  • Are we posing this with reference to guitar or piano? Can't see clues.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 14:37

3 Answers 3

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A complete Cm11 chord is: C Eb G Bb D F, i.e. the 7th and 9th are implied. This does not mean, however, that you always have to actually play them. The 9th can be left out, and the 5th is very often left out because it doesn't add much color to the chord.

On the guitar there are two voicings that are used a lot (from low to high):

8 x 8 8 6 x, i.e. C Bb Eb F

This is a Cm11 with no 5 and no 9, but (as played from low to high) the root, 7th, 3rd, and 11. This is almost your Bb/C, just with the note D replaced by the minor third Eb.

The other frequently used voicing is

x 3 1 3 3 1, i.e. C Eb Bb D F

This voicing has a 9th (the D), but still no 5th. On the guitar you can leave out the root on the A string if you like (and if it's clear from the context or played by another instrument).

If you can leave out the root there are many other voicings, but the two voicings above are very common (at least on the guitar).

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You could consider it as an Eb6 with an added 2. That would use all the notes, but in a first inversion. Maybe a C could be played as the lowest note, but it's not always strictly necessary. On a piano, it's quite easy to play all of those notes, even with the C as the bass. On guitar, not sure till I pick one up. The first note to leave out would be the G (V), and I feel that the 9 can go absent too. I tend to think of an 11th chord more like a 7th and a 4th over the triad. It also depends on where on a piano, for instance, it's played. Too low = too muddy, .

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  • This is very helpful. I could play the Eb6 with a 9 (2) over the C root, and there I am. Just wish I was at my piano and not my desk right now. Referencing from C as the tonic, the flat 7 (Bb) is always implied, but not so much the 9 (d natural)? One of my favorite dissonances is the 2 against the minor third, so maybe under certain circumstances you want the 9 in a minor 11 chord? Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 18:54
  • @memphisslim - Certainly. Just choose those certain circumstances. Ears work well here!
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 19:03
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If the composer has said it should be a Cm11 then they probably think the 9th (a D note) should be included if possible. If they felt it would be better without the 9th, I think they would have called it a Cm7add11.

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