I'm playing some chords from a song that goes Fm (F, A♭, C, F on guitar), Fmin7 (E♭, A♭, C, F), and a chord I don't know what to call that uses D, A♭, C, F. This appears to be similar to an Fmin/maj7 chord but with a major 6th instead of a 7th. Could this be called an Fmin/maj6, or would I need to call it something else?

  • You could describe this as a descending bass line with a simple Fm on top. What happens after the third chord? Depending on where this continues to change how to analyze the chords. – Michael Curtis Jun 10 '19 at 14:23

I'm not quite sure why F-Ab-C-D would be considered closer to FmM7 than Fm7; in any event, your chord is an Fm6 chord. You could also interpret the chord D-F-Ab-C as a Dm7b5, or half-diminished chord.

The minor/major part of FmM7 indicates that the chord is an Fm chord with a major 7th, to distinguish it from an Fm7 with a minor 7th; note that the "minor" in Fm7 does not refer to the 7th, though, but to the minor quality of the Fm triad.

There is such a thing as an FmM13 chord, which would be spelled F-Ab-C-E-G-B-D, or possibly encountered as something like F-Ab-E-D.

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  • But the 6th here is major, no? Wouldn't Fm6 imply that both the triad and 6th are minor? – コナーゲティ Jun 10 '19 at 4:35
  • The m only applies to the underlying triad. If the 6th were minor, you might have an Fm(b6), but this would be a very unusual chord: the b6 is enharmonic to a #5, and would clash with the 5th of the Fm (F-Ab-C-Db). – ex nihilo Jun 10 '19 at 5:01
  • Ok, thank you. Is it different for Fm7, where both the triad and 7th would be minor? – コナーゲティ Jun 10 '19 at 5:23
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    No, the m only applies to the triad. Chord nomenclature always gives the triad quality first, the Fm part, followed by a 7 if the chord is a 7th chord (or a 6 or 6/9). A 7 indicates a b7 by convention, and a M7 indicates a natural 7. This can be a little confusing; some people like to reference the Mixolydian scale instead of the major scale with chord names for this reason. Note that for major quality chords there is usually no M associated with the triad. So an F major chord is an F, not an FM, and a dominant 7th F major chord is F7, not FM7. – ex nihilo Jun 10 '19 at 6:00
  • Excellent answer. +1. I used to query why a m6 chord actually featured a M6 note! Apart from the fact that a minor triad with a m6 note added doesn't sound good, that M6 could easily be construed as the very note found in the melodic minor scale. Thus, it's O.K! – Tim Jun 10 '19 at 6:34

If the lowest note of each chord is the note that changes each time so F->Eb->D, then the changing notes can be considered as passing tones, since they are not being used in a functional progression. For example, if the key center where this happens in F minor, then the Eb Ab C F chord could be changing the F minor to a ii chord in Eb. You don't mention what comes next, and that is the crucial chord to tell us if the Dm7-5 is functional or not. If the D moves down to Db or C, then we are still dealing with passing tones. If the D moves to a Bb7 chord, or a G7 chord, then it is functional.

So, if the D is part of the baseline, then it is not Fm6. Hope this helps!

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