Another Extended Chord You Need to Know!


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.

Last week we learned about  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.

Today we will change those major 6th chords into minor 6th chords just by altering the 3rd 1/2 step -- in other words, a minor triad with a 6th on top.

So here is the formula for a minor 6th chord:

A Minor 6th Chord = Root - flat3rd - 5th - 6th

Here's what Minor 6th chords look like on the staff:

(Remember that accidentals carry over in each measure!)

Minor sixth chords

appear in lead sheets as any of the following chord symbols:

Cm6      Cmi6      C-(add 6)

And here's what they look like on the piano keyboard when played in root position:

Fingering Positions for Minor 6th Chords

As usual, now it's up to you. Play each minor 6th chord in root position, then 1st inversion, then 2nd inversion, then in 3rd inversion (the 6th will be the lowest note of the chord)  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 minor 6th chords to your repertoire 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!

Do you feel like you're getting a handle on chords yet? You ought to -- I know we're going slowly, but chords are SO important that you absolutely MUST master them if you are ever going to play the piano like you hope to!

So here's our revised chord scorecard:

12 major + 12 minor + 12 diminished +

12 augmented + 12 major 6th + 12 minor 6th chords

and inversions of each mean you can now play

240 chords!


Next week we will add 12 more chords to our growing list of chords we can play by adding 7th chords to our stash. (Actually 48 more chords, since each 4-note chord such as a 7th can be inverted 4 ways -- root position, 1st inversion, 2nd inversion, and 3rd inversion.)


This page updated on March 25, 2019.