The 6/#9 chord – Mark Knopfler’s Train Chord

Imitating the sound of a freight train whistle seems to be an obligatory part of all blues players’ vocabulary. For this purpose Mark Knopfler often uses a particular chord, a chord that appears on songs like Eastbound Train or Gravy Train (live), but also on the The Bug.

The chord in question is often called a 6/#9  chord (sometimes also denoted as 6/10). Remember, the numbers indicate the interval from the root note, so it is a chord with the 6th scale note added, and the sharp 9th note.

In C the 6th note is an A, the 9th is a D, but here we have a sharp nine, which is a half note higher, a D# (or Eb if you see it as 6/10 chord).

So our C 6/#9 would be (e.g.): C, E, G, A, D#

As a guitar player you probably want to leave out one or the other note (we only have 4 left-hand fingers), so we might get e.g. : C, G, A, D#

The following diagrams shows how to play these notes.

as tab:

or as chord chart:

Move the chord to the 14th fret position, and you will get the E 6/9+ (Eastbound Train) or – one octave lower – to the 2nd fret (The Bug)

In Gravy Train this chord appears as A 6/9+, which is at the 7th fret posiotion.

Here is a sound clips with the ‘train excerpt’ from the mentioned songs:


Keep on whistling 🙂

4 thoughts on “The 6/#9 chord – Mark Knopfler’s Train Chord

  1. Hi,
    to me this chord sound also to a 7/9 one :
    if you take for example the chord used in Eastbound or Bug, It has the following notes : E C# G B. So it also could be used as A 7/9 (in a different order, A 7/9 is : A C# G B, and eventually E)
    So the train chord on the degre 1, is also very similar (by the notes) to the 7/9 of the degre 4.
    Well, when I play it, it sounds OK to me with the 2 chords behind

  2. It is right what you say, but since the underlaying chord is the E, it does not make sense to see it as an A7/9 here.

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