# 6.12 Secondary degrees: the sixth degree (VI)

 Category: Harmony | Tags: Chords, Triads

### Theory

In this chapter you will learn about the sixth degree (VI). You are goning to make sixth degrees in different scales yourself in the exercise.

## 1. The sixth degree (VI)

We will first investigate which tones the sixth degree (VI) has in common with the first, fourth and fifth degrees.

In C major, the sixth tone is A, the sixth degree (VI) is comprised of the tones A C E.

In C major, the first degree (I) is comprised of the tones C E G. The sixth degree (VI) has two tones in common with the first degree (I), namely, the root C and the third E of the first degree. These two are the most important tones.

The fourth degree (IV) is comprised of the tones F A C. The sixth degree (VI) has two tones in common with the fourth degree (IV), namely, the third A and the fifth C. The fifth is the least important tone.

The fifth degree (V) is comprised of the tones G B D. The sixth degree (VI) has not one tone in common with the fifth degree (V).

The sixth degree is most strongly connected to the first degree (I).

### Examples

Which tones has the sixth degree in common with the first, fourth and fifth degrees?

## 2. Tonic function

The sixth degree is most strongly connected to the first degree and, therefore has a tonic function. The sixth degree can occur as a substitution of the first degree.

The chord progression V - I can be replaced by V - VI.
The chord progression V - VI is called a deceptive cadence.

Listen to a example:

Listen to I-V-VI

## 3. Subdominant function

The sixth degree also has two tones in common with the fourth degree, therefore the sixth degree also has a subdominant function. The sixth degree is sometimes used before the fourth degree or instead of the fourth degree. The chord progression IV - II - V - I can be extended with the the sixth degree: VI - IV - II - V - I. The chord progression IV - II - V - I can be replaced by: VI - II - V - I.

Listen to two examples:

Listen to I-VI-V-I

Listen to I-VI-II-V-I

## 4. Practise

Harmony exercise 6q: practise making the sixth degree of various major and minor scales.

## 5. Ear training

To learn to recognize the different degrees and chord functions by ear, a number of different exercises have been made for the enthusiast These exercises are called Recognizing degrees, Notating degrees and Degrees and melody. You can find these exercises in Chapter 6.27 Degrees: ear training.