The "German Sixth" is a distinctive chord in music theory and harmony, employed to enhance harmonic progressions and evoke specific emotional qualities in compositions. Also known as the "German Augmented Sixth" chord, it is a type of altered dominant chord commonly found in classical music. The German Sixth chord is used to introduce chromaticism and tension, adding complexity to musical phrases.
The German Sixth chord is constructed using the root note (fundamental), a minor sixth interval, a minor third interval, and a major third interval above the root.
One of the distinctive characteristics of the German Sixth chord is its propensity to resolve outward to an octave. The augmented sixth interval typically resolves to an octave, while the root note often descends by a perfect fifth to the dominant chord.
In harmonic progressions, the German Sixth chord serves as a chromatic passing chord, introducing a note foreign to the key and leading to increased tension before resolving to a more stable chord. Its unique interval structure adds color and complexity to compositions, enhancing the richness of the harmonic palette.
The German Sixth chord is prevalent in classical music, particularly works composed during the Baroque and Classical periods. Composers utilize this chord to create harmonic interest, introduce chromaticism, and heighten emotional expression in their compositions.