If I have a chord made up of the root, 5th, 7th and 9th intervals, what would be the correct way of notating this? I have seen two different conventions that are as follows:

CMaj9 (sus)


CMaj9 (no3)

Is there a favoured convention? Or could one even do something like:

C5 (add7,add9)


Cmaj7 (sus9)

Thanks for any help!

2 Answers 2


If you want those exact chord values (root, 5th, 7th and 9th), depending on the key, for your chosen chord (Cmaj9) I would write it as G/C. As soon as I see Maj in a chord I immediately think that the chord has a major third in it.

  • How would you notate just the root, 5th and 7th for example?
    – Numpy
    May 18, 2020 at 4:39
  • 1
    Me too. I like G/C. May 18, 2020 at 5:22
  • 1
    @Numpy Root, 5th and 7th I write as Cmaj7 (no3). May 18, 2020 at 5:23
  • I agree, Cmaj7 (no3), but to be honest, i have rarely, if ever, come across a situation where that is required. I suppose you could write Cmaj7sus, but it implies a suspended 4th or 2nd. Depends on the context and if its a notated piece of music or a chord chart.
    – meganoob
    May 18, 2020 at 8:06

The term sus is used to indicate something other than the 3rd of the chord and shouldn’t be used by itself, it should have a number after it:

sus4 = 4 instead of 3

sus2 = 2 instead of 3

In this case I would opt for Cmaj9 (no 3)

or G/C a G triad with a C in the bass.

I suppose Cmaj7 (sus2) could also work but that chord spelling is unusual.

Always opt for clarity and simplicity, your last 2 choices complicate things a bit, plus I’ve never seen anything other than sus2 or sus4 in any rhythm part or published music that I can recall.

  • I've seen sus on its own enough as a shorthand for sus4 that I would imagine this is a pretty standardized notation. But sus on its own certainly doesn't mean what the OP thinks it does.
    – Don Hosek
    May 18, 2020 at 2:42
  • @DonHosek I too have seen sus as shorthand for sus4 on charts many, many times and sus4 is probably used at least 20/1 over sus2 but the fact is the 4 should be there for clarity so that’s why I explained it the way I did. May 18, 2020 at 4:03
  • Thanks for your comments guys. For reference, here is where I saw the sus notation mentioned in my question. Try setting the notes to A, E, G# to find what their algorithm calls the chord. scales-chords.com/chordid.php
    – Numpy
    May 18, 2020 at 4:32
  • @Numpy My pleasure, hope my answer helped you even though some nameless person dinged me with a -1. I experimented a bit with that page and any chord that doesn’t have a 2 3 or 4 in it is generically labeled a “sus”. Other than that it seems to work ok. May 18, 2020 at 4:46
  • @OldBrixtonian - I usually wonder why something has been downvoted. It's not only polite, but useful to give a valid reason. Sadly, it rarely happens.
    – Tim
    May 18, 2020 at 6:42

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