Major sixth

Major sixth

In music theory, a major sixth is an interval that has nine half steps (semitones). Explanations and excerpts from famous works

In music theory, a major sixth is an interval that has nine half steps united states of america (semitones united kingdom).

The major sixth requires that:

  • The interval must be a sixth interval (six note names between the first and the last).
  • The interval must have nine half steps.

What does a major sixth look like?

Here is an example of a melodic major sixth (two music notes in a melody) and a harmonic major sixth (in a chord):

major sixth

How to recognize a major sixth?

Rule of music theory: All intervals in a major scale starting with the tonic (degree I) are either major or perfect, and only unison, octave, fourth and fifth are perfect (the others are major).

Example with the interval C/ A:

Let's take the C Major scale to have C as the tonic:

C major scale

From the rule stated above, it becomes clear that C/ A is a major sixth.

Inversion of the major sixth

The inversion of the major sixth is the minor third.

Here is an example of a minor third:

Minor third

Musical examples of major sixth

Nocturne Opus 9 n°2 by Chopin

Chopin's Nocturne Opus 9 n°2 start with a major sixth:

Major sixths in Nocturne Opus 9 n°2 by Chopin

(Royalty free soun sample performed by pianist Samson François in 1964, Creative Commons Zero 1.0 license, source)

You will notice the use of gruppetto (measure 2), mordents (measure 5), trills (measure 7), appoggiaturas (measure 8), and the use of an anacrusis.

Interval identification game

You will find this interval in my Intervals identification game:

Find all my music theory games by clicking this link music theory games
music theory games


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