Because the /B is the Maj7, is it better to say Maj9/B or add9/B? I feel like the first is redundant, but the add9/B makes it sound like it omits the 7 until you realize that the /B is the 7th.

Which is conventional to use?

4 Answers 4


In slash chords, the note after the slash tells what the bass, or lowest note should be. It doesn't necessarily denote what the chord itself is. If it was C/A, there's a simple Cmajor chord, and the bass note is A. That doesn't always mean it's a C6 chord.

So, with this premise, if you want the B to be only played as the bass note, write exactly what chord you need before it.

Cmaj9/B will have another B, higher than the bass B.

C(add9)/B will not have any more Bs than the bass note.

Usually, with slash chords, as mentioned in other answers, the bass note will be part of a sequence of notes, often over the same main chord. For instance - a series C, C/B, C/Bb shows the stable C triad, but with a bass part going somewhere - in this case probably to an F.


Having thought about this, it is context dependent.

In particular, consider the progression Cadd9 Cadd9/B Am7. In this case, the B is a passing tone in the bass. I would consider it separately to the rest of the chord. I have a song using a similar progression in front of me, and it's written Bb Bb/A Gm. I think that's clearer.

In other cases, it's probably better to just write Cmaj9/B. Unless you only want the B in the bass and nowhere else, but it's not a given that the performer will follow through on that desire. Chord symbols don't really specify voicing in that much detail.


It's a CMaj9 chords, so that's what you'd call it. The /B only specifies the inversion, but not the chord quality. So even without the /B it should be clear what chord it is.

To give an extreme example, would you prefer F/A or F(no 3rd)/A?

  • 2
    I don't disagree, but I think I might play CMaj9/B differently to Cadd9/B if I was reading them. I'd be much more likely to put a B in the upper structure of the former (on piano). But that might just be my interpretation.
    – endorph
    Apr 19, 2018 at 5:59

If The B is ONLY in the bass, call it C(add9)/B. If the next chord is C(add9)/A... well, I think you take the point? Chord symbols sometimes DO include information about voicing.

If the B also occurs in the upper structure, there is a case for Cmaj9/B.

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