I understand the most popular & first-learnt chords & how to associate them with the keys they belong to.

I'm looking at other chord types now such as Am6.

I believe that Am6 can only go into the key of A, because no other key has A,C#,E,F# notes, is this correct?

  • 3
    I don't know if it helps you, but Am6 has a C, not a C#. – fp123 Jul 27 '15 at 13:23

Am6 would be a minor chord with the 6th scale degree included: ACEF#. This chord occurs naturally in the Dorian Mode and the Ascending Melodic Minor scale. Most commonly I find this chord associated with Dorian.

As you may have noticed in other circumstances, chords and other notes used within a piece of music do not have to stay within the key specified. This most commonly is accomplished with a Modulation (moving to another key), or some sort of borrowing/secondary function. Within the Jazz idiom, you often find that most Major7 chord are built off Lydian, with #11, and most Minor7 chords are built off Dorian, with 13. So you may also find that openness or darkness, depending on voicing, of the Minor6 chord may just be used as the overall sound used for minor chords within a piece, as opposed to only being used on a specific minor chord within the scale that would naturally have the major 6th degree.

  • I would like to make sure that the Jazz concept I presented isn't taken too far. That concept typically applies to Bebop and beyond and not to earlier Jazz. Early Jazz is actually more likely to use Major 6 or Minor 6 chords, where more modern Jazz began using Major 7 and Minor 7 chords. It is also not entirely uncommon to see modern Jazz not utilizing this sort of approach but it is typically characteristically different in such a way that you can hear this difference. As with all music, there is no wrong, except if you are trying to imitate a specific style, so have fun with it! – Basstickler Jul 27 '15 at 20:04

That sounds rather confused. Am6 does not contain C#, and the natural A minor mode does not contain an F#.

So it is not clear how you derive your rule. Assuming that you base your rule on the melodic minor scale (the only A minor scale actually containing F#), Bm6 is equally "in scale" with melodic A minor as Am6 is.

  • A Dorian would also contain an F#... – Basstickler Jul 27 '15 at 14:39

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