Major 6th / Minor 6th Chords ② / Music Theory Lesson

Author: sleepfreaks

Sounding Off Despite Not Using Avoid Notes

Previously, we took a look at the basics of the major/minor 6th chords.
Lets see why we decided to look at the 6th chord before returning back to avoid notes.

First give this audio a listen.

There are points when the melody and chords don’t blend well together.

Lets check it on notation and the piano roll.
Pay particular attention to the portions in the boxes.




By double checking, we can see that avoid notes aren’t being used in particular either.

Then why does it sound bad?
Lets break it down and figure it out.

  • Fmaj7 part (top note of melody is F)
  • Cmaj7 part (top note of melody is C)

They both are major 7th chords with melodies that use the root note of the chord.

Some of you may have already realised that the
major 7th chord’s (R M3rd P5th M7th / 1 3 5 7) M7th(7) is clashing with the R(1) of the melody.

Because we are deliberately playing the melody and chord to stand out in this way,
it sounds especially off, but you may come across this issue while writing your own songs.

Using 6th Chords to Fix Dissonance

Then how can we fix this issue?
There are a few methods, but the easiest is to change the chords to triads.


The dissonance is fixed, and you get a clear and bright major chord sound.

If the sound is a little too simplistic,
we can utilize the major 6th chord as well.


We can change the Imaj7 in the Key of C major to a C6.
In this case, it would be analysed as I6.

Key=C Major 
Dm7→Em7→F→G7→C6 IIm7→IIIm7→IV→V7→I6

Though having a 6th chord just as the end changes the feel of the progression,
adding a little touch to the chord before it makes a smoother progression.

We will take a look at this kind of technique in a later article,
but for now keep in mind that using the 6th chord can help enhance a melody line.

6th Chords from the Major Scale

Here we will try to find major 6th chords made from diatonic chords and are made up of exclusively scale notes.


Like shown, we can create them on the I, IV, and V chords.

Of course you can choose to use it, but the V6 chord does not contain the tritone
so it doesn’t fuction as a powerful dominant chord.
30.Primary Triads and Their Functions ③

  • C→G7→C
  • C→G6→C

Another idea is to use them back and forth with the major 7th chords as well.
In this case be sure to keep the top note of the chord and how it correlates to the melody in mind.

If you find a 6th chord while analyzing a song, check out how it relates to the melody in the song.

Article Writer: Kazuma Itoh

講師 伊藤
After moving to the USA at 18 years of age with a scholarship from Berklee, he completed a 4 year study focused on song writing and arranging there.
Using this knowledge, he works across a variety of fields from pop music, film music, and more.