Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Added tone chord

An added tone chord is a triadic chord with an extra "added" note, such as the added sixth. This includes chords with an added thirteenth and farther "extensions", but that do not include the intervening thirds as in an extended chord.

Suspended chords

A suspended chord is a chord in which the third is replaced or accompanied by either a fourth or a major second, although the fourth is far more common.

This type of sound is borrowed from the contrapuntal technique of suspension, where a note from a previous chord is carried over to the next chord, and then resolved down to the third or tonic, suspending a note from the previous chord. However, in a suspended chord the added tone does not necessarily resolve.

Suspended chords are most commonly found in folk music and popular music.

Sixth Chords

Generally speaking, a sixth chord is any chord which contains the interval of a sixth. The simplest example is the first inversion of a triad, which consists of a third and a sixth above the root; when the term sixth chord is used without qualification, it usually refers to such a chord.

There are also a number of non-standard sixth chords. The added sixth chord, as the name suggests, is a triad with an added sixth. It is generally built on the sub-dominant (fourth scale degree), although they can be built on any note. An added sixth chord built on C consists of the notes C, E, G, and the added sixth A. These are the same notes as those of an A minor seventh chord - whether such a chord should be regarded as an added sixth chord or a seventh depends on its context and harmonic function.

The Neapolitan sixth is the first inversion of a major triad built on the flattened supertonic (second degree of the scale) - a Neapolitan sixth in C major, therefore, consists of the notes D flat, F and A flat. It being a first inversion explains the sixth part of its name; why the name makes reference to Naples is less clear, though it may be because the chord was particularly popular with composers of the so-called Neapolitan school of the 18th century. It often precedes a perfect cadence, when it functions as a sub-dominant.

There are a number of augmented sixth chords. Each of them have a major third and augmented sixth above the bass. When these are the only three notes present, the chord is an Italian sixth; when an augmented fourth is added above the bass, the chord is a French sixth; while adding a perfect fifth above the bass of an Italian sixth makes it a German sixth (the etymology of all these names is unclear). All usually have the flattened sub-mediant (sixth degree of the scale, A flat in C major, for example) as the bass note -in this case, they tend to resolve to the dominant.