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I am trying to digitize an old piece of music, and I'm confused by a notation that says B♭ arpeggio (photo below). I'm used to apreggios being a wavy line next to the notes, so I'm not sure which note(s) that it should get attached to.

Also, why is it B♭6? What does the six mean?

The piece written in E♭ major with a 6/8 time signature

B Flat 6 Arpeggio picture

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  • The chord symbols you've written onto the score look like they're all mismatches. I can't even explain all of them as if they're for the same transposing instrument.
    – Dekkadeci
    Mar 8 '20 at 9:38
  • Not my chords, and they're not all right. The person who did it tried one key, and then went with another. (Something I'm cleaning up with the digitized version)
    – David
    Mar 8 '20 at 13:28
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B♭6 means B♭-D-F-G (the formula for a major 6th chord is R, W+W, W+H, W, where R is root, W - whole tone and H - semitone).

As for arpeggios and how they are notated - I do not know for sure. I play 2 monophonic instruments and rarely deal with this sort of symbols. I think notation depends on time period and what instrument it was written for (I vaguely remember arpeggios for guitar being notated in a different way).

It's pretty common for jazz and some rock scores to prompt the musician to play a chord or its variation instead of what's on the sheet (it's the first time I see something like that in a classical score). I would assume it prompts you to play an arpeggiated major 6th with your left hand (the bass) instead of 2 B♭'s an octave apart. This is how I would interpret it:

B♭6 arpeggio

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  • This is a classical piece. It's in E♭ major with a 6/8 time signature. (I also updated the picture so there's more context, including the key)
    – David
    Mar 7 '20 at 16:34
  • @David, it's funny that the only result on Google if you search for "someone had kept it from me" (with quotes) is about herpes. I'll update my answer shortly.
    – Pyromonk
    Mar 7 '20 at 22:33
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B♭ chord is the first, third and 5th notes of the B♭major scale. That's B♭, D and F.

B♭6 adds the 6th note of the scale. So that's B♭, D, F, and G.

Not sure quite how that fits in with the notation you showed us. But that's what B♭6 means. I guess you know what an arpeggio is?

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Its a sixth chord. Basically a sixth chord is a chord with a sixth added on top, Bb6 would be Bb-D-F-G, with C6 it would be C-E-G-A. you could also have a minor sixth chord (Bbm6; Bb, Db, F, G), or a flat six chord (Bbm(b6), Bb, Db, F, Gb), there is also the 6/9 chord which is pretty self explanatory (Bb, D, F, G, C).

Sorry for the late answer, but better late than never!

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What does the "6" mean in "Bb6"?

It means to add a major sixth above the root of a major chord. Thus Bb6 is a Bb major chord plus G: Bb-D-F-G, as others have already explained.

The "Bb6 arpeggio" instruction

This is an instruction to the pianist that while the voice part is holding its G (m. 7, beat 5), the piano should play an improvised Bb6 arpeggio as a flourish to decorate and highlight the voice.

The notation is not a common one, but the device of placing an arpeggio like this at a musically significant moment is very common.

Why Bb6?

The initial harmony, on beat 4, is Bb7 — the "7" being the Ab in the voice and piano right hand. However, the arpeggio is to occur when the voice moves to G, so a Bb7 arpeggio would create a clash: Ab against G. Rather, the arpeggio is Bb6 to reinforce the voice's G.

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