• A Lesson On Six-Three And Six-Four Chords

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Piano,Theory

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    If you’re interested in learning about six-three and six-four chords, then you arrived at the right page.

    There are musical concepts that are known only by scholarly musicians: six-three and six-four chords are inclusive.

    But before we go into all that, let’s prepare our minds by reviewing the concept of inversion.

    A Quick Review On The Concept Of The Inversion Of Chords

    A chord according to Jermaine Griggs consists of a collection of three or more related notes (agreeable or not) which may be played or heard together.

    In the C major triad:

    C is the first

    E is the third

    G is the fifth

    Although the tones of the C major triad are played in numerical order — from the first, to the third, then the fifth tones, the tones of the C major triad can be reordered. Reordering the notes of a chord is technically defined as chord inversion.

    “Check It Out…”

    The C major triad:

    …can be reordered in such a way that E:

    …comes before G:

    …and C:

    Altogether, we have E-G-C:

    …an inversion of the C major triad.

    The notes of the C major triad can also be reordered in such a way that G:

    …comes before C:

    …and E:

    …and this produces G-C-E:

    …which is also an inversion of the C major triad.

    Attention: Chord inversion applies to triads and seventh chords only. Extended chords CANNOT be inverted.

    Six-Three Chords – Explained

    The inversion of a triad in root position produces a first inversion chord if the root is the highest sounding note.

    For example, the C major triad (in root position):

    …can be inverted to E-G-C:

    …and that’s the first inversion of the C major triad — which is known to music scholars as the six-three chord.

    “What Is A Six-Three Chord?”

    The first inversion of the C major triad (or of any other triad) is known as a six-three chord because of the intervals between chord tones (intervallic components).

    Using the C major triad (played in first inversion):

    …as a reference, the interval between E and C:

    …is a sixth interval, while the interval between E and G:

    …is a third interval.

    So, the first inversion of the given triad (the C major triad):

    …consists of two intervals:

    The sixth interval

    The third interval

    Consequently, it’s called the six-three chord.

    So, the first inversion of the C major triad:

    …is described as a six-three chord because of the intervals it consists of.

    Six-three chords are distinguishable from other inversions because of the interval between the chord tones. For example, given the F-B-D triad:

    …one can determine if it’s a first inversion chord or not by breaking down the distance between its chord tones.

    F-D:

    …is a sixth interval, while F to B:

    …is a fourth interval.

    From the interval between chord tones in the F-B-D chord (which is six-four), it’s clear that the F-B-D chord is not a first inversion chord because instead of the six-three interval between chord tones, the F-B-D chord consists of a six-four between successive tones.

    So, now we know that the F-B-D chord is six-four, let’s breakdown six-four chords.

     Quick Insights On Six-Four Chords

    The inversion of a triad in first inversion produces a second inversion chord. For example, the C major triad (played in first inversion):

    …can be inverted to G-C-E:

    …and that’s the second inversion of the C major triad — which is known to music scholars as the six-four chord.

    “What Is A Six-Four Chord?”

    The second inversion of the C major triad (or of any other triad) is known as a six-four chord because of the intervals between chord tones (intervallic components).

    Using the C major triad (played in first inversion):

    …as a reference, the interval between G and E:

    …is a sixth interval, while the interval between G and C:

    …is a fourth interval.

    So, the second inversion of the given triad (the C major triad):

    …consists of two intervals:

    The sixth interval

    The fourth interval

    Consequently, it’s called the six-four chord.

    So, the second inversion of the C major triad:

    …is described as a six-four chord because of the intervals it consists of.

    Final Words

    Now that you know what six-three and six-four chords are and the difference between them, determination of whether a chord is a first inversion or second inversion chord should be a lot easier for you.

    See you in the next lesson!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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