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For the ABRSM Grade 6 Music Theory exam you will need to have a good understanding of ALL diatonic chords, in ALL keys.

Naming Chords

You need to know how to name chords using both the extended Roman numeral system and figured bass.

Roman Numerals:

Major chords = capital letters e.g. I, II, III

Minor chords = lower case letters e.g. i, ii, iii

Diminished chords = lower case with ° symbol e.g. ii°, vii°

Augmented chords = capital with + symbol e.g. III+

You should also understand how to use standard chord symbols. You will not be tested on these, but they will help you in your studies.

Standard Chord Symbols:

Major chord = just the note name e.g. C, G#, Ab

Minor chord = note name with “m” e.g. Cm, G#m, Abm

Chords you need to know

You need to know all the chords built from the notes in every major scale, every minor harmonic scale, and every minor melodic scale. You will find lessons on each chord on this site. Chords in keys up to 7 sharps/flats might be appear in the exam, but in practice you will find them mostly in “easier” keys.

You also need to know the added 7th chords of the dominant 7th and supertonic 7th. These are 4-note chords.

What you need to know about each chord

  • The notes that make up the chord
  • What inversions it can be used in
  • Which notes are normally doubled (or can be left out) in a 4-part chord
  • How to space the notes in the chord
  • Which chords you can move to and from that chord (this is known as “chord progressions”)
  • Which chords are typical in Classical era harmony (Q1, Q2 in the exam) and which are not normally used
  • How to work out the name of a chord and its inversion when it is in a score
  • Which chords are used a cadences and approaches to cadences