Lessons > Chord Theory > Sixth Chords

Sixth Chords

As we know, the major triad forms a base from which other chords are created and named. See what happens when we add the sixth note of the C major scale to the C major triad.

C   D   E   F   G   A   B   C
1       3       5   6        

The chord below is a five-string chord comprised of the notes C, E, G and A. Adding the sixth note (A) brings out a different sounding chord whilst retaining similar characteristics. Because we have used a triad from the C major scale the chords name starts with C major. The sixth note is also added so we just add sixth to the name, therefore the chord is referred to as C major sixth (or C6 for short).

More Major Sixth Chords →

Now that we know the formula for a sixth chord we can use this information to work out what notes are in a sixth chord of any given key. Below you will see a table that has the major scale written out in all 12 keys. The 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th notes of each key have been highlighted.

Question - What notes are in an A major sixth (A6) chord? Answer

Key I II III IV V VI VII Octave
A A B C# D E F# G# A
A# A# C D D# F G A A#
B B C# D# E F# G# A# B
C C D E F G A B C
C# C# D# F F# G# A# C C#
D D E F# G A B C# D
D# D# F G G# A# C D D#
E E F# G# A B C# D# E
F F G A A# C D E F
F# F# G# A# B C# D# F F#
G G A B C D E F# G
G# G# A# C C# D# F G G#