the Major 6th Chords
The First of the Extended Chords Group
Hello again, and welcome to the next lesson. I hope you are enjoying learning about all the chords in the world -- and we're going to cover them ALL before we're done -- you'll know more about chords than 99% of the people in the world -- believe it or not, it's true.
If you recall, in the first class we learned about the three chords you absolutely, positively CAN'T do without; we took an airplane ride over Chordland just to get the lay of the land -- the overview of the world of chords. We showed you how easy it is to learn ALL the major chords (there are 12 of them) and be able to play them in second.. Y ou learned how to easily turn major chords into minor chords just by moving one key one-half step -- by lowering the 3rd of the major chord. Then we learned diminished triads -- just by lowering the 3rd and the 5th of a major chord 1/2 step. Then we learned inversions -- how to stand chords on their head. And, finally, we took up augmented triads -- formed by simply raising the 5th of a major triad. If you need a review any of these chord lessons, click on the Chords 101 button at the top of this page; it will take you to all the earlier lessons. Now, we move on to more complex chords in Chords 102. Today we are going to learn major 6th chords. They are 4-note chords -- the root, 3rd, 5th -- just like a major chord, but you also add the 6th degree of the scale to the major triad. The 6th is ALWAYS one whole step above the 5th -- never a half step -- so they are real easy to find. So here is the formula:
A Major 6th Chord = Root - 3rd - 5th - 6th
Here's what Major 6th chords look like on the staff:
(Remember that accidentals carry over in each measure!)
Major sixth chords
appears in lead sheets as any of the following chord symbols:
And here's what they look like when played in root position: (They appear in the same order as the notation above -- besides, you should be able to form them by now, since all there is to it is to add the 6th note of the scale to the major chord!)
Now it's up to you. Play each augmented triad in root position, then 1st inversion, then 2nd inversion. Play each chord up and down the keyboard for at least 2 octaves -- maybe 3 octaves. Play them with your left hand, then play them with your right hand. Then play them hands together.
Go through all 12 major chords, inverting every one. Then go through all the 12 minor chords, inverting each one up and down the keyboard -- hands alone, then hands together. Then go through all 12 diminished chords, inverting each one up and down the keyboard -- each hand alone, then together. Then play the 12 augmented chords, up and down the keyboard. Then skip around from major to minor to diminished to augmented, etc. Now add 6th chords to your repetoire of chords. They are shown in root position above, but you know that you can turn them upside down 'till the cows come home -- invert them -- so go to it! When you can do that you ought to feel really, really, really, really optimistic about learning chords, because you're on your way! After all, you have gone from
12 major chords + 12 minor chords + 12 diminished chords +
12 augmented chords + 12 major 6th chords
with inversions of each means you can now play
Good for you!
Next week we will add 12 more chords to our growing list of chords we can play by adding minor 6th chords to our stash. (Actually 48 more chords, since each 4-note chord such as a minor 6th can be inverted 4 ways -- root position, 1st inversion, 2nd inversion, and 3rd inversion.