Table of Contents
Section 6: Bibliography
augmented sixth chords
1. The three basic types of augmented sixth chords are labeled German, French, and Italian. Note the constituents of each chord: German from bass=Major 3rd-Perfect 5th-Augmented 6th; Italian is like the German only without the P5 above the bass; French has M3-A4-A6 above the bass.
2. Notice in example 1 above, that the German 6 looks like a misspelled dominant seventh chord. Do not be confused. The dominant seventh chord resolves by root motion, V-I (or V-vi in deceptive motion). The German chord and the other augmented sixth chords resolve the dissonant A6 interval outward to the octave (in ordinary usage). Therefore, the function of the two chords differs greatly. Notice that the spelling of the A6 chords lends itself to the octave resolution; naturals are not needed.
3. While ordinary music theory analyzes chords by arranging the notes in ascending thirds, augmented sixth chords are not best considered this way. These chords do not act according to typical root movement, rather, they function by resolving the dissonance of the augmented sixth outward to the octave (See example 2). Therefore, they are not characterized by Roman numerals, but by their names thus: Ger.6 or G6, Fr. 6 or F6, and It. 6 (note that I6 looks the same as a tonic triad in first inversion) .
4. The most common position in a key for the A6 chord to be built on is the pitch one half step above the dominant. In major, this means the lowered sixth scale degree. In minor, it is simply the sixth. The reason for this is the resolution. The chord usually resolves either to I 6/4, or to V. The A6 chords also appear commonly on the flat ii, resolving to I.
5. The spellings of A6 chords vary in actual usage. To identify the chords, observe closely their resolution.
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