13 June 2008

Chord Progressions: The Minor 6th Chord

In previous articles in this series on chord progressions you learned to play some I - IV - V progressions. This is the most common progression in popular music forms, but it is certainly not the only one. This article is going to show you a progression in the key of G with a minor chord. It is the basis of many beautiful songs.

The progressions you will learn in this article use a minor 6th chord. This chord is written as 'vi' in roman numerals, the small letters indicate that the chord is minor. The vi chord is so called because its root note is the 6th note of the major key in which it is played. Explaining all that theoretical hobbledy gook is outside the scope of this article, but don't worry about it for now, you won't need it to play the progressions.

Let's get straight into the examples. In the key of G the vi chord is Em. I've chosen this key because you can play all of the chords, both major and minor, in open positions without bar chords.

Example 1

|| I | vi | I | vi ||

|| G | Em | G | Em ||

Example 2

|| I | vi | IV | I ||

|| G | Em | C | G ||

Example 3

|| IV | vi | I | I ||

|| C | Em | G | G ||

Start practicing slowly using four strums for each chord until you get comfortable with the chord changes. Once you've mastered them you can experiment with different strumming patterns to make things more interesting.

Progressions using the minor 6th chord are often used in folk and rock songs to make a different sound between the verse and chorus or bridge. You can build your own little song using this effect by combining the above examples with the I - IV - V progressions in the key of G you can find here.

Choose the progression you want to use for your verse, either a I - IV - V or a minor 6th progression. Then choose the opposite kind of progression for the chorus. Play the verse progression four times and then the chorus progression four times to create your very own verse and chorus. Then repeat the whole thing three or four times and you've got a song.

Have fun with these progressions and see if you can recognize any of them in the songs you listen to.

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Derrick said...


I am learning acoustic guitar and blogging about it. I love the stuff your are writing and would like to add you to a list of links on my blog at http://acousticnewb.blogspot.com/

Great stuff you have here! Thank you so much!


Gary Fletcher said...

Hi Derrick,

Delighted to hear you like my posts, and thanks for the link. It's a real pleasure to hear from readers like yourself.

I'm heading over to acousticnewb now to take a look...


Derrick said...

I am working on a post about "affective" learning...big words for attitude and feeling. I think that is the perfect spot to introduce your blog with a bit of a review.

Thanks for all the work you do here.


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