• 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, and then to 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. I hope that  determining 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 the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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