This is Tchaikovsky's The Doll's Funeral, which is in C minor. The chord I am confused about is the second chord in measure 30. I should mention this is my first time analyzing. I thought this was some sort of borrowed chord, but the only chords that responded to the notes Ab D F# were a Db5 and a Ab7b5sus. Am I missing some sort of knowledge here? enter image description here

4 Answers 4


The second chord of Bar 30 is best explained as a passing chord, as it is sandwiched between two differently voiced German Augmented 6th chords and uses D instead of their C and E flat.

Alternately, you could explain it as an incompletely voiced French Augmented 6th chord. In C minor, a French Augmented 6th chord uses the notes A flat, C, D, and F sharp.


The second chord in measure 30 isn't a chord in its own right. All of measure 30 is a German augmented-sixth chord, spelled Ab, C, Eb, and F#. What happens on beat 2 is that the two inner voices execute a voice exchange where one plays Eb-D-C and the other C-D-Eb. But it happens so quickly that I would simply analyze the whole measure as Ger+6.

  • Cam I analyze it instead as a French augmented chord?
    – t_t
    Apr 1 at 19:11
  • Can you make a compelling argument that the chord on beat 2 stands alone as a separate entity? To me the prevailing chord is German and beat 2 is just a little wiggling around for color
    – nuggethead
    Apr 1 at 20:29

It looks like an Italian Sixth. In the keys of C major and minor, it's built on the minor sixth above the tonic (not why it's called the Augmented Sixth) with a minor third and an augmented sixth interval above the bass (that's why it's called the Augmented Sixth; it can also appear on other notes, often on a flat second step). The augmented sixth resolves outward by half-step to the octave on scale step 5 (if based on step 6); sometimes through a I64 and sometimes directly to a V chord.

Notice that it's written with an F# to distinguish it from an Ab7 chord. The chord appears with the fifth above its bass (German Sixth) and sometimes with a diminished fifth above its bass (French Sixth). Though enharmonic to some seventh chords, it resolves differently. It's normally used as a pre-dominant.

  • Isn't it German? I see Ab, C, Eb, and F# clearly on beat 1 of 30
    – nuggethead
    Mar 31 at 14:02
  • The question asks for the second chord of Bar 30, not the first like your answer indicates.
    – Dekkadeci
    Mar 31 at 17:21
  • Wait why would French augmented 6th be a valid interpretation?
    – t_t
    Apr 1 at 3:42

Yes, you're missing some information of music theory. Look up augmented sixth chord (respectively german 6th and french 6th chord).


Ab C D F# = French 6th: which is derived from D F# Ab C = V7b5 of G (Ab C D F# = 2nd inversion of D F# Ab C)


The last chord of m. 29 and first of 30 is the German 6th = Ab C Eb F# (and not VI7 Ab C Eb Gb)

The German 6th

is derived from the subdom.7 = F Ab C Eb. iv56 = 1st inversion: Ab C Eb F, whereby the root tone of the iv (F) is altered: F#! = germ. 6

  • to the downvoter: thank you for carefully reading this answer. I know there was an error, but I couldn't edit it on my mobile. now I'm sitting at my laptop and I hope that it will work. Apr 6 at 10:10

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