The major six, minor six, and mb6 chords

This is a lesson on some sixth chords (6, m6, mb6)

Recall that a chord is 3 or more distinct notes, usually played at the same time.

Recall the definitions (using intervals) for the following chords:
major = 1,3,5
minor = 1,b3,5
diminished = 1,b3,b5
augmented = 1,3,#5

We can create a 6th chord by taking a triad (such as those above) and adding some type of 6th to it.
minor 6th (b6) = 8 half-steps
major sixth (6) = 9 half-steps

We can define some common 6th chords.
6 = 1,3,5,6
m6 = 1,b3,5,6
mb6 = 1,b3,5,b6

THE MAJOR SIX CHORD (6, maj6)

The major six chord is made up of the same notes as the major triad plus the note which is a major sixth from the root.
6 = 1,3,5,6
C6 = C,E,G,A

Here are 5 moveable shapes and the notes on a full fretboard (with which you can make your own voicings. Be sure to include one note each of 1,3,5,6).

6 "E-shape" (root note on the 6th, 4th, and 1rst strings)

|-1-|---|---|
|---|---|-6-|
|---|-3-|---|
|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|

6 "D-shape" (root note on the 4th, and 2nd strings)

|---|---|-3-|
|-6-|---|---|
|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|
|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|

6 "C-shape" (root note on the 5th, and 2nd strings)

|-5-|---|---|---|
|---|-1-|---|---|
|---|---|-6-|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|---|---|

6 "A-shape" (root note on the 5th, and 3rd strings)

|---|---|-6-|
|---|---|-3-|
|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|
|---|---|---|

6 "G-shape" (root note on the 6th, 3rd, and 1rst strings)

|-6-|---|---|-1-|
|-3-|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|---|
|-5-|---|-6-|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|

6 Full fretboard

|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|
|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|
|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|
|---|---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|

Some open/1rst position 6 chords:
A6=X02222, Bb6=X13333, B6=X21102, C6=X32210, D6=XX0202, E6=022120, F6=XX3231, G6=320000

THE MINOR SIX CHORD (m6, min6)

The minor six chord is made up of the same notes as the minor triad plus the note which is a major sixth from the root.
m6 = 1,b3,5,6
Dm6 = D,F,A,B

Here are 5 moveable shapes and the notes on a full fretboard (with which you can make your own voicings. Be sure to include one note each of 1,b3,5,6).

m6 "E-shape" (root note on the 6th, 4th, and 1rst strings)

|-1-|---|---|
|---|---|-6-|
|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|

m6 "D-shape" (root note on the 4th, and 2nd strings)

|---|b3-|---|
|-6-|---|---|
|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|
|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|

m6 "C-shape" (root note on the 5th, and 2nd strings)

|-5-|---|---|---|
|---|-1-|---|---|
|---|---|-6-|---|
|---|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|---|---|

m6 "A-shape" (root note on the 5th, and 3rd strings)

|---|---|-6-|
|---|b3-|---|
|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|
|---|---|---|

m6 "G-shape" (root note on the 6th, 3rd, and 1rst strings)

|-6-|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|---|
|-5-|---|-6-|---|
|---|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|

m6 full fretboard

|-1-|---|---|b3-|---|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|
|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|b3-|---|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|
|b3-|---|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|-1-|---|---|b3-|---|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|b3-|---|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|b3-|---|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|

Some open/1rst position m6 chords:
Am6=X02212, Bbm6=X13323, Bm6=X20102, Cm6=X3121X, Dm6=XX0201, Em6=022020, Fm6=XX3131, Gm6=310330

THE MINOR FLAT SIX CHORD (mb6, minb6)

The minor flat six chord is made up of the same notes as the minor triad plus the note which is a minor sixth from the root.
mb6 = 1,b3,5,b6
Amb6 = A,C,E,F

Here are 5 moveable shapes and the notes on a full fretboard (with which you can make your own voicings. Be sure to include one note each of 1,b3,5,b6).

mb6 "E-shape" (root note on the 6th, 4th, and 1rst strings)

|-1-|---|---|
|---|b6-|---|
|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|

mb6 "D-shape" (root note on the 4th, and 2nd strings)

|---|---|b3-|---|
|b6-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-5-|
|---|-1-|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|

mb6 "C-shape" (root note on the 5th, and 2nd strings)

|-5-|---|---|---|
|---|-1-|---|---|
|---|b6-|---|---|
|---|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|---|---|

mb6 "A-shape" (root note on the 5th, and 3rd strings)

|---|b6-|---|
|---|b3-|---|
|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|
|---|---|---|

mb6 "G-shape" (root note on the 6th, 3rd, and 1rst strings)

|-6-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|---|
|---|b6-|---|---|
|---|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|

mb6 full fretboard

|-1-|---|---|b3-|---|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|
|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|b3-|---|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|
|b3-|---|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|-1-|---|---|b3-|---|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|b3-|---|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|b3-|---|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|---|

Some open/1rst position mb6 chords:
Amb6=X02211, Bbmb6=X13322, Bmb6=X20002, Cmb6=X3111X, Dmb6=X003X1, Emb6=022010, Fmb6=X33121, Gmb6=311333

CHORDS FROM SCALES

Harmonizing sixth chords from scales follows a similar operation as harmonizing 7th chords (see aug16.html in above mentioned archive) from scales but instead of placing the seventh note on top of the triad, you place the sixth note. Below the work and results are done for you ( at a later time/lesson, I will go step-by-step in harmonizing extended chords).
These chords could be used to create progressions the same way as we previously discussed (see harmonizing 7th chords)

MAJOR SCALE

                             -O-
                          O   O
|---------------------O---O-----|
                  O   O       O
|-------------O---O-------O-----|
          O   O       O       O
|-----O---O-------O-------O-----|
  O   O       O       O
|-O-------O-------O-------------|
      O       O
|-O-------O---------------------|
      O
 -O- 


I6  ii6  iiib6  IV6  V6  vib6  viib6b5


MINOR SCALE

|-----------------------------O-|
                          O   O
|---------------------O---O-----|
                  O   O       O
|-------------O---O-------O-----|
          O   O       O       O
|-----O---O-------O-------O-----|
  O   O       O       O
|-O-------O-------O-------------|
      O       O             
 -O-     -O-           
      O
 -O-


ib6  iib6b5  bIII6  iv6  vb6  bVI6  bVII6




HARMONIC MINOR SCALE

|-----------------------------O-|
                          O   O
|---------------------O---O-----|
                  O   O       O
|-------------O---O-------O-----|
          O   O       O       O
|----#O--#O------#O------#O-----|
  O   O       O       O
|-O-------O-------O-------------|
      O       O             
 -O-     -O-           
      O
 -O-

ib6  ii6b5  bIII6#5  iv6  Vb6  bVI6  viib6b5


MELODIC MINOR SCALE


|----------------------------#O-|
                          O   O
|---------------------O---O-----|
                  O   O       O
|-------------O---O-------O-----|
          O   O       O       O
|----#O--#O------#O------#O-----|
 #O  #O      #O      #O
|-O-------O-------O-------------|
      O       O             
 -O-     -O-           
      O
 -O-

i6  ii6  bIII6#5  IV6  Vb6  vib6b5  viib6b5

GYPSY MINOR SCALE


|-----------------------------O-|
                          O   O
|--------------------#O--#O-----|
                  O   O       O
|-------------O---O-------O-----|
          O   O       O       O
|----#O--#O------#O------#O-----|
  O   O       O       O
|-O-------O-------O-------------|
     #O      #O             
 -O-     -O-           
      O
 -O-

ib6  II6b5  bIII6#5  #IV6b5sus2  Vb6  bVI6  VII6b5


SIXTH CHORDS AS INVERSIONS OF SEVENTH CHORDS:

Sixth chords can be seen as inversions of seventh chords.

Consider trhe chords C6 and Am7.
C6 = C,E,G,A
Am7 = A,C,E,G

They are the same notes but different chords. they have different roots which the give the same notes different meanings in a different context. C6 is a major chord, whereas Am7 is a minor chord.

One could CHOOSE to see Am7 as C6/A (or to see C6 as Am7/C). With this thinking one finds some possibilities for substitution.
Given a i7 chord, substitute bIII6.
Given a I6 chord, substitute vi7.

Using this line of thought , we'll look at inversions/chord synonyms of other 6th chords found harmonized in the above scale systems.

dom7 <===> ob6
G7 = G,B,D,F
Bob6 = B,D,F,G
Given a I7 chord, substitute iiiob6.
Given a iob6 chord, substitute bVI7.

maj7 <===> mb6
Cmaj7 = C,E,G,B
Emb6 = E,G,B,C
Given a Imaj7 chord, substitute iiib6.
Given a ib6 chord, substitute bVImaj7.

m7b5 <===> m6
Bm7b5 = B,D,F,A
Dm6 = D,F,A,B
Given a i7b5 chord, substitute biii6.
Given a i6 chord, substitute vi7b5.

o7 <===> m6b5 (= o7)
Bo7 = B,D,F,Ab
Dm6b5 = D,F,Ab,B (= D,F,Ab,Cb = Do7)
Given a io7 chord, substitute biii6b5.
Given a i6b5 chord, substitute vio7.

*note: the diminished seven chord inverts upon itself ( i will be giving a lesson on the o7 chord in about 10 lessons [ after discussing the harmonic minor scale])

maj7#5 <===> b6
Cmaj7#5 = C,E,#G,B
Eaddb6 = E,#G,B,C
Given a Imaj7#5 chord, substitute IIIb6.
Given a Ib6 chord, substitute bVImaj7#5.

m/maj7 <===> 6#5
Am/maj7 = A,C,E,G#
C6#5 = C,E,G#,A
Given a imaj7 chord, substitute bIII6#5.
Given a I6#5 chord, substitute vimaj7.

mbb7 (m6) <===> 6b5
Ambb7 = A,C,E,Gb
C6b5 = C,E,Gb,A
Given a ibb7 chord, substitute bIII6b5.
Given a I6b5 chord, substitute vibb7.

Everything's sixes and sevens.

Having looked at some substitution possibilities based on a 1rst inversion of some common 7th chords, we're still left with a question of slash chords and their meaning.

So just what does C6/A really mean?
Is it the same thing as Am7?
If so, why? If not, why not?

I will suggest that it all depends on the context of the music that the chord appears in.

More lessons to come on extended chords, chord synonyms, voice leading (chords in context), and chord substitution in the future.

Next lesson is on Dominant nine chords

Peace,
Christopher Roberts


How do I change all those numbers to letters (for notes, chords, etc.)? Here's a transposition chart simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/guitar/8theory3.html

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Last updated December 30, 2002.
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