# 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**

### Examples

## 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**

### Examples

## 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.

## Summary

#### The sixth degree (VI)

- The sixth degree (VI) has two tones in common with the
**first degree (I)**, namely, the root and the third of the first degree. - 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 - VI is called a
**deceptive cadence**. - The sixth degree is sometimes used
**before**the fourth degree or**instead of**the fourth degree.