Minor 6 chords | Jazz Banjo | Extended Harmony

Minor 6 chords are one of my favorite chords in all of music.

Where are they used?

1) They are used in minor keys as the i chord. The famous song “Summertime” by George Gershwin is a good example of a song you can use the minor 6 chord for the i chord.

It is used as an additional coloring over a i minor chord, an example is a minor blues like “The Thrill is Gone” or even something like “Wayfaring Stranger.” Instead of only playing the same old Aminor you can play an Amin 6 occasionally.

The other place to use them is in a IV major to iv minor chord progression. Famous examples of songs with these progressions include “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Pennies from Heaven.” For example, if you are in the key of G and the song goes C major to C minor, you can use a C min 6.

How do you build a Minor 6 chord?

You take your normal Minor chord formula (1-b3-5) and you add a 6th to it. However, this chord is really constructed from your MELODIC MINOR SCALE, as opposed to your NATURAL MINOR SCALE.

So, given a C melodic minor scale (CDEbFGAB), you get C-Eb-G-A or 1-b3-5-6

If it was made from the NATURAL MINOR SCALE, you would have got an Ab. You certainly don’t want that note! You would hear the dissonance between the G and Ab.

Here is the video where I demonstrate one possible voicing of the minor 6 chord on your banjo. It can be pretty difficult at first so please stick with it, your fingers will become stronger and more flexible the more you use them in these manners.


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