3

This might be sort of a basic question, but I've been searching the internet for long enough and I thought I'd just ask: I'm a guitarist, trying to create a tab on ultimate-guitar.com. In this tab, there is a certain chord which I'm not sure how to write down:

It's mostly a standard Am chord, but instead of the high E at the end you play F, so it looks like this:

    Fret: Note:
     X-----X
     0-----A
     2-----E
     2-----A
     1-----C
     1-----F
%X/X.0/0.2/2.2/3.1/1.1/1

This would be Am with a minor 6th. I thought it would just be Am6, but apparently that implies a major 6th (F# instead of F). So how do I write it correctly?

The song I'm tabbing is in the key of Am (or C maybe). The progression goes Am, C, F, G, then this chord.

The answer I picked:

In the end I went with FM7/A, because it was the only thing I ever searched on google which actually listed the above as a variation. I would have given @Richard some credit because I believe he suggested that first, but he only put it as a comment. I might have also gone with Amaddb13, but ultimate-guitar didn't recognize that notation. Thanks a lot to @Fugu for not only giving both these answers in the end but also explaining them :)

  • Could you provide some context and also give the chords that precede and follow this mystery chord? Depending on the neighboring chords, this could be a few things. – jdjazz Aug 10 '17 at 2:07
  • @jdjazz I added some more info – Keith Stein Aug 10 '17 at 2:32
5

So you've created a chord with the notes A C E F. There are three potential names for this combination of notes and it's good to be aware of all of them and what separates these names.

The first name you might call such a chord is AMib6, sometimes written AMiMi6. You would use this name when the E and F are not separated by an octave; the name, by exclusion, implies that these two notes are adjecent.

What do you do if they're separated by an octave? Well, then you call it AmiAddb13. This is an add chord because there is no 7th, 9th or 11th; if there was, you'd call it Ami11b13. Furthermore, it's 13 and not 6 to indicate that the F is to be separated from the triad by an octave.

Now here's where things get tricky. Generally speaking, the b6 (and the b13) aren't particularly common. The reason they aren't common has to do with the other name of this chord: F major 7 in first inversion. Fmaj7 consists of the notes F A C and E, which are simply the notes of the chord you've given in a different order. Why would you call a chord F major 7? Well, it comes down to function. Labeling the chord AMib6 in the key of A minor indicates a tonic function, whereas labeling it Fmaj7/A indicates a subdominant function. I won't go into chord function and how to determine which function a chord has (especially in the context of a relatively advanced case like this one), but I can tell you that most of the time - but certainly not all of the time - that you have this particular chord shape, you're actually looking at an inverted major 7th chord. The most common exception is when ACEF is followed or preceded by ACEF# or ACEG (think Eleanor Rigby or the James Bond Theme). In most other cases, the correct labeling is maj7.

  • Never seen AMiMi6, or Amm6 before. Come to that Amb6 is pretty foreign. I still think we're barking, - up the wrong tree looking for anything associated with Am – Tim Aug 10 '17 at 11:04
  • @Tim I have seen Mib6 before and I've heard it called a "minor minor sixth chord" although I will admit that I can't say with certainty that I've ever actually seen it written on the page. On principle, I agree with you that this is probably an FMaj7/A and that probably more than 90% of the time it's going to be correctly notated as a major 7th chord. But just this week I transcribed a solo piano piece which had the notes G Bb D Eb as a tonic functioning chord, and notating it as Eb would have been wrong. It's irregular, however, and I'd say generally this shape is an inverted major 7th. – Fugu Aug 10 '17 at 11:20
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There's a possible red herring here with the A note underneath. To me it looks more like F maj7, as the four notes are F,A,C and E. Obviously, with A under, it can be called Fmaj7/A or the first inversion of that chord.I wouldn't be thinking of it as any derivitive of A minor, even with that A underpinning the rest.

It's not a particularly harmonious sound - that's usually found by playing the F on string 4, and leaving the top string open to provide the maj7 part. This voicing is sometimes used as a 'stepping stone' chord to go between F major and F7.

I'm wondering why you chose this particular voicing. Is it just something in a list of chords, or does it belong to a specific song you have in mind?

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I'd call the chord Am11b13 you spelled out Amb13

  • 3
    wouldn't an 11 chord require a fourth, for an A chord an added D? – Michael Curtis Dec 3 '18 at 18:42
  • 2
    doesn't 13 imply that the chord has 7, 9 and 11? – coconochao Dec 3 '18 at 20:09
  • 2
    @coconochao -- the b13 would at least imply a b7 here; the 9th and 11th could be omitted and you could still call it a 13th chord (this is especially common with guitar). OP has spelled a possible Am(add b13) in the question; I don't know why this answer wants to add an 11th.... – ex nihilo Dec 4 '18 at 20:55

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