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Intervals - The Sixths

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Intervals - The Sixths

The sixths are the last kind of the consonant intervals. The sixth is the interval between the first and the sixth note. As with the thirds, there are two kinds of sixths: Major sixth and minor sixths.

The major sixth

The major sixth is four whole steps and one half step above the root. I have chosen C-A as an example.

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Go to my Ear Training Lesson for examples of the other major sixths in the C-major scale: D-B, F-D and G-E.

The minor sixth

The major sixth is three whole steps and two half steps above the root. The sixth above the root in a major scale is a major sixth. So once again we have to choose another root for the interval. I have chosen E-C.

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Go to my Ear Training Lesson for examples of the other minor sixths in the C-major scale: A-F and B-G.

Notice the notation: If the root is on the line, then the sixth note is between the lines Then you know that if the root is between the lines, the sixth is on the line. And there is two lines, and one and a half space between the notes.

Description of thirds and sixths

We will try to describe the thirds and sixths, just as we described the perfect intervals. They are pleasing, harmonious, friendly and cozy. Thirds are close friends, sixths are just friends.

When we harmonize the scale in sixths, you will have the same kind of problem as with the fourths: The scale will not come to rest. If we harmonize with inverted thirds (scale note on top), then it sounds better. So I give you both.

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You should notice that a major sixth is an inverted minor third (and vice versa), and the minor sixth is an inverted major sixth. You will probably have some problem distinguishing between an interval and it's inversion when played harmonically. The major third form C to E and the minor sixth from E to C have the same notes. But because the sixth is a much larger interval than the third, they are not as difficult as the perfect fifth and fourths.

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You will often hear guitar solos harmonized in sixths. To me it sounds "counryish", but you will hear it in many musical genres. It is also much used in vocal harmony. Here are links to a few lessons on the net, for further studies (not all of them are free).

Mark Hanson: Easy Blues: Soloing In Sixths (True Fire - $ 2.00) Dave Rubin: Double Play (Double-Stops) (True Fire - $ 1.50) Joe Gore: Sample Swatch Of Soukous (True Fire - $ 1.50)
Hellecasters: Twisting Sixths (True Fire - $ 1.00) John Petrucci: Sliding Into The Future: Intervallic Slides (Wild Stringdom) (True Fire - $ 1.00) Joe Dalton: Country Lead (True Fire - $ 2.00)

Further references
A:GP 2003-04, L:AG 2002-Nov

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Previous page: Intervals - The Thirds Next page: The consonant invervals - sounds