What chord is this?

enter image description here

There’s a chord progression often used at the beginning of a new phrase (chorus or interlude) leading from I6 to the ii:

In C-major this would be:

Starting: E-G-(C) Modulation passing bridge: Eb-F#orGb-G# Resolving into: D-F-A

The G could be split in G# leading upwards to A and Gb leading down to F.


as the song is in G-major I redefine my question (transposed to this key) keeping the OP inrespect to the comments below:

  • the chorus starts with I6 (B-D-G)
  • the chord in question is Bb-C#-D#-G
  • leading to am7

my idea is:

wouldn‘t it make sense to consider this chord as an inversion of the diminished chord (G-Bb-Db) with the augmented 5th (D#)?

  • 1
    Since each note in the Eb-Gb-G# chord is one semitone away from the notes in ii (D-F-A), I wouldn't interpret that chord as having both an augmented and diminished fifth. Besides, where's the root if that were the case?
    – Dekkadeci
    Mar 3, 2019 at 12:32
  • The root would be C and remain C, that means the resolved chord would be an inversion of vii7. But in some cases it is I6 without the root. Mar 3, 2019 at 12:47
  • 1
    But have you ever heard that chord with a root of C? Your description of it makes me doubt this is the case.
    – Dekkadeci
    Mar 3, 2019 at 12:50
  • I‘ll post a picture ;) it is in G here, and with an augmented 4th, but in my opinion it could be aswell a diminished fifth. Mar 3, 2019 at 13:42

3 Answers 3


This is not a German 6th, or any other kind of augmented 6th chord. Those are chords that function as dominant harmony, have an augmented 6th in them, and resolve the aug 6 to a unison on the root of the following chord. The only notes in this chord that could be spelled as an aug 6 are the C# and D#, which could be spelled as Eb and C#. If this was functioning as an augmented 6th chord, then the chord would resolve to a D chord, and both of those notes would resolve to the note D. That isn't what's happening here.

Although the sonority is enharmonically the same as a D#7 or Eb7 chord, it's not functioning that way here. This isn't really functional harmony, it's just voices moving chromatically from I to ii7. The reason for the spelling is that (1) they're trying to spell chromatic motion the way you normally spell it, with flats for downward motion and sharps for upward motion, and (2) they don't want to spell the top two voices as Db and D#, because that would be confusing and hard to read (especially for an accompanist on keyboard), so they spell the right hand so it's obvious what it is.

Is there a chord containing an augmented and diminished fifth?

Yes, in jazz you can have "alt" chords, which are basically a way of talking about tritone substitutions, and the scale you would play over that kind of chord would have both a b5 and a #5. I don't think that's what's going on here. That's because of the style of music, because there's no way that G is heard as the root of this chord, and because a tritone sub leading to Am would have a tritone in it consisting of a G# and a D.

  • This is a better analysis because it is guided by the voice leading.
    – user48353
    Mar 3, 2019 at 20:52
  • There are some interesting aspects in your answer. I agree that in jazz and also in modern music there are chords with dim. and aug. fifths. Also in Bartoks music I’ve seen such tensions but those chords can‘t be compared with this one here. I‘m interested what other users will say to your opinion: there's no way that G is heard as the root of this chord. I even would identify G as the tonic when it would be missing, that‘s why I explained originally it was a I6 without the root. Mar 3, 2019 at 21:06

Seems like a badly written D#7 chord to me. That Bb would make more sense as A#, thus 2nd inversion of D#7, a tts leading to Am7. Or, of course, Eb7 with the C# and D# being Eb and Db respectively.

If it was dim 5 and aug 5, it would have to be written Db and D#, which wouldn't be easy.

  • In jazz chord progression I‘ve understood that I-IIIdim7-IIm-V7 is considered as a variation of the 1625 pattern. I could assume that this chord here is a mix between a diminished triad and/with an augmented 5th. Mar 3, 2019 at 16:28
  • 1
    @AlbrechtHügli - the moment I played it, it came across as Eb7
    – Tim
    Mar 3, 2019 at 17:07
  • I know, that’s like I use to think too when I play it, but this doesn‘t explain to me the function and the tension of the leading tones. Mar 3, 2019 at 17:22
  • 1
    @AlbrechtHügli - isn't tts a function in itself? And if it is indeed a mix of dim and aug 5ths, (which it isn't!) what function might that play? And how could it be written in dots?
    – Tim
    Mar 3, 2019 at 18:21
  • GI agree with you that an enharmonic new interpretation would be D#7or Eb7 (like Ab7 for the German sixth le,do,me,fi). I would be pleased if one could answer: this is the German sixth (2nd. inversion me,fi,le,do) resolving in to ii7. But why Eb and not D#? and how leading to E? Mar 3, 2019 at 18:37

I would argue that it is indeed tonal, and is an enharmonically-written (for purposes of voice leading) Eb7 in second inversion being used as a tritone substitute for an A7, which then actually resolves to the Am7.

G: I6 subV43/V | ii7 etc...

Something akin to above.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.