Minor 6th chords

The Minor 6th chord is a four-note chord that adds the sixth degree note in the major scale to the minor triad. By comparing Cm with Cm6 we can see that the notes changes from C, Eb, G to C, Eb, G, A. The minor sixth chord can be a substitute for a common minor, but can sound somewhat dissonant depending on the musical circumstances (it often diverges from the relevant musical key).

Minor 6th chords

Cm6

  • Cm6 chord diagram

Dm6

  • Dm6 chord diagram

Em6

  • Em6 chord diagram

Fm6

  • Fm6 chord diagram

Gm6

  • Gm6 chord diagram

Am6

  • Am6 chord diagram

Bm6

  • Bm6 chord diagram

Comment

These are, generally, chords in open position, with Cm6 as an exception which is a closed chord (having no loose strings). Also noticeable is that Cm6 and Fm6 are played with alternative bass notes, see different versions below. Fm6 can be played with the root note in the base by using the thumb on the sixth string and muting the fifth on the same time.

Minor 6th with flats and sharps

Additional chords in this category:

C sharp / D flat m6: 678696
D sharp / E flat m6: XX1312
F sharp / G flat m6: XX4645
G sharp / A flat m6: XX6867
A sharp / B flat m6: 688686

Theory

The minor 6th chord can be found on the ii degree in a major scale. In C major, this would be Dm6 whereas Em9 and Am9 would be non-diatonic chords because of the C# and F# notes, respectively.

Chord formula

The minor sixth is built with the formula 1-b3-5-6 (root, minor 3rd, perfect 5th and major 6th).

Chord construction

Cm6  x - x - Eb - A - C - G
Dm6  x - x - D - A - B - F
Em6  E - B - E - G - C# - E
Fm6  x - x - D - Ab - C - F
Gm6  G - Bb - E - G - D - E
Am6  x - A - E - A - C - F#
Bm6  x - x - D - G# - B - F#
Guitar versions of the chord

Notes in chord

Cm6  C - Eb - G - A
Dm6  D - F - A - B
Em6  E - G - B - C#
Fm6  F - Ab - C - D
Gm6  G - Bb - D - E
Am6  A - C - E - F#
Bm6  B - D - F# - G#
The intervals are 1 – b3 – 5 – 6

Movable minor 6th chord

The Minor 6th can be played as a barre chord. The diagram below shows a barre shape based on the Em6 shape with the root note on the 6th string.

chord shape 6th chord

To play, for example F#m6, the short notation is: 244242.

Voicings with bass note on 6th string

Here is a movable voicing for the minor sixth with the root on the lowest string.

Fm6: 1X0111
Gm6: 3X2333
Am6: 5X4555
Bm6: 7X6777
Cm6: 8X7888
Dm6: 10 X 9 10 10 10
Em6: 12 X 11 12 12 12

Voicings with bass note on 5th string

If you want to play the minor sixth with the bass note on fifth string, here are some voicings. Notice that the two shapes are movable. Concerning Gm6, Am6 and Bm6 the root note is note the same as the bass note.

Cm6: X31213
Dm6: X53435
Em6: X75657
Fm6: X86768
Gm6: X55756
Am6: X77978
Bm6: X 9 9 11 9 10

Minor 6th chord in open position

Here are additional shapes in open position for this chord category:

Em6: 042000
G#m6/D# / Abm6/Eb7: XX1101
Am6: X04210
Bbm6: X1302X
Bm6: X20102

Chord progressions

Here are chord sequences that include the minor 6th:

G6 - Am6 - Bm7

Amaj9 - Bm6 - D6 - E

G - Dm6 - E7 - Am7 - D7 - G

Notice that the Dm6 fits well before E7 since both include a B note, which Dm doesn't. In the second progression, Amaj9 can be played as X02100.


Minor 6th chords work as ii, but not as iii and vi chords (atonal). So, for example, in C major key, Dm6 is an viable (diatonic) option. This is the reason for this chord category to be less used compared to minor seventh.

Back to chord types

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