In the vi
we added a chord known as the submediant (also known as the 6 or vi
chord), to our foundation chord
scale. Just as with
previous chords we've added, let's explore some more of
this vi chord function to give us more creative options when writing our chord
Spicing up the minor submediant
As we learned in the last part, the submediant is naturally a minor chord. As well
as playing the basic minor chord forms (e.g. the minor barre
chord shapes), we can try
adding tones to this basic minor triad.
vi as a minor
7th chords give the basic minor triad more depth and colour. You can learn several
ways to play a minor 7th chord, and the theory behind it in the chords
but here are a couple of examples...
idea is to experiment with the different types of minor chord you learn in
the chords section. For example, how does a minor 9th (e.g. Am9) chord
sound in the vi position? You don't even need to know chord theory,
just add and remove fingers/notes to the standard barre and open
fingerings you learn and hear if the modifications sound good in that
You can see that, as we learn how to enhance/modify
each chord in the scale we're building, we can put it all together and
make the progression as a whole lot more interesting and tone-rich.
brings out natural harmonies embedded within the chord sequences we
pull out of the scale. In turn this can help you pick out vocal and
lead phrases to complement the chord progression. More on this later in
our songwriting journey.
major VI chord
Just as we learned we could turn the minor ii chord into
a major II
chord, the same applies for vi.
major VI chord is most commonly associated with jazz music, and you'll
hear why in examples below. It gives the submediant a completely
different sound, although its function becomes slightly more limited.
This is where you need to experiment and trust your ears to judge what
sounds good and what perhaps sounds "out of place" in a flowing chord
progression. I can't show you
every possible chord combination unfortunately!
For example, a movement from V to VI might sound too disjointed,
whereas a movement from I to VI flows better.
The most common way to use the major VI chord is to enhance it by using
a dominant 7th chord
(e.g. A7, B7, D7 etc.), just like the V chord, so with this in mind...
The more chord combinations you can play around with, in multiple keys, the
ear will be trained to the intrinsic function of this scale as a whole.
While at the moment it may still seem a little constrained, that won't
issue once you begin to see it in the context of what you can play around
this scale. All these chord positions will become mere reference points
a larger musical expression. However, it's important not to forget that
some of the most loved music out there only uses the chord positions
from this scale, with no "outside chords".