What Is The '65 Chord' And Why Does It Sound SO GOOD On Guitar?

The Magical 'Forgotten Chord' That Makes Your Progressions Sound Haunting

Tommaso Zillio

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wonderful 65 chord

“Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord…” (Leonard Cohen, “Halleluja”)

If I told you that there is a chord out there that I’m positive you’ve never heard of…

… and you’re also almost sure to love - especially if you like dissonant, haunting-sounding chords! - would you believe it?

No? Well, it does sound too good to be true, doesn’t it? So I guess I might just have to prove it to you.

I’m talking, of course, about the “65 chord”. Have you heard of it?


Didn’t think so.

Then I was already correct on 1 out of my 2 initial predictions. Score one! (*)

Since I was right on my first prediction, by simple induction, you can expect I’m going to be right on the second prediction too. That is: you will love this chord. (**)

What are you waiting for, then? You’re pretty much sure to like this video!

Click the link below and let me show you the magic of the 65 chord, how you can use it in your music, and how you can move it around the guitar fretboard.

(*) That was easy. I just had to use a strange name for the chord. But since no official name exists for this chord, and since it is usually notated “6 5”, that’s a good name as any.

(**) That’s not how simple induction works, of course. Just making it clear before people get hurt by misusing simple induction… But I’m still pretty sure you’ll like the chord!

Want more on chords and harmony? This video only scratches the surface of what you will find in my Complete Chord Mastery guitar course, which gives you EVERYTHING you need to know about chords and harmony on guitar!

Video Transcription

Hello, internet; so nice to see you! Today I want to talk to you about the wonderful ‘65’ chord or six five chord. Now, this chord, it’s actually explained in several music theory books. But somehow when people read those books, they forget about this chord, and they just don’t use it. And you know, it’s like, it’s one of those secrets in plain sight. Okay? Now, since when I’m going to explain what it is, some people are gonna go like, yeah, I know this one already. Let me let me play you something, just a very short chord progression. So you hear the sound and you see how this can be used.

In this chord progression, the second and fourth chords were both 65 chords, that wonderful little dissonance in there is exactly what we are going for. Okay, so if you like the sound, stay with me, and I’ll show you exactly what this is and how to do it.

And yes, you’ve heard the sound already. But again, if you notice how you hear the sound only in the hands of professional musicians, only music composed by people who have studied, that’s not an easy chord to discover, even if once I show it to you, it’s absolutely easy. So how does that work?

The six five chord is a chord that contains the fifth and the sixth of the chord and may or may not contain the third of the chord. And in most examples here, I’m going to simply omit the third. The difference with the normal triads, which are major and minor is that in the triad, the most important note is the third because it tells you if the chord is major or minor. But here, we don’t care if this chord is major or minor, we care about the dissonance between the sixth and the fifth.

So, for instance, if I were in the key of C major, and I’m playing a six five chord with the root of C (A C65), the notes will be C, G, and A. C the root, G the fifth, and A the sixth. If I play those notes in this order, it will sound this way.

By itself, it sounds quite unimpressive, I can change the order of those notes, and play C A, and G at the high octave. Now depending on what scale you are in, and then the exact route in which you build the six five chord, you have more interesting situations where the distance between the sixth and a fifth of the chord is just a half step.

So, for instance, if in the key of C major, I’m building an E65 chord, you’re gonna see that the root is the E note. The fifth is the B note. And to stay in the key of C, the six above the E must be the C note. So now I have just a half step between B and C. And when I play these, I get this sound. All the Metallica fans know this sounds ready because it’s the same in a different key as the chord of Fade To Black and One.

So, you can use this chord exactly as it is. And it already sounds good. Now, before we go on ahead, some people will say “but wait a minute, this is actually a very common chord, it’s just a sixth chord.” Yes, it is just a sixth chord. But again, you normally would play the sixth chord, so like a major sixth, or a minor sixth, or a minor 6 with a flat six and all this kind of thing, you would play them with a third.

So, when you play all those notes, when I say play a C six, I will have to play the C, the E, the G, and the A and you play all those notes together. I can of course play this on the guitar. But this sounds, it doesn’t sound as haunting and interesting as if you just play the six and five, or at least that’s my opinion.

Other people are gonna say that this is just a seventh chord in first inversion. What does it mean? Well, let’s see. The C six has C E G A, the same notes as a minor seven, A C E G, only with the third at the base. The third in this case will be C at the base. So yes, this will be an A minor seventh chord in first inversion in which I eliminate the E so it’s an Am7no5 in first inversion. Okay?

Yes, formally, you’re perfectly right. But I mean, how many times you sit down and use this chord, purposefully eliminating the third and concentrating on the dissonance of the five and six, not many. I see that most people know about this chord and can analyze this chord, but they don’t use it. So let me show you one interesting way to use this chord with your own chord progressions.

So, to use this trick you need to start with a very short chord progression, I would recommend starting with two chords. And right now I’m going to do this in the key of A minor, and my initial progression of two chords is A minor, F. Nothing ground-breaking, right? Pretty good. Now I’m gonna make space between the A minor and F, and I’m gonna make space between the F and my return to A minor. In these extra slots, I’m going to put a six five chord, and specifically, I’m gonna put a six five chord that follows these two conditions:

Condition one is that all the notes of this five six chord must be in key. So, the interval between the five and six must respect the notes of the key, you’re gonna see in a moment how I’m doing it.

Second condition is that the root of the five six chord is one step below the root of the following chord and one step in the scale. So the chord I’m putting here between a minor and F is going to be one step in the scale below the F, so the route is going to be E, so I’m going to put an E five six here, next between the F and return to A minor, I’m gonna put a five six chord, that’s the root one step in the scale below A, which is G. I’m going to stay in the A natural minor scale here.

So, my chord progression is A minor, E65, F, G65. Now I can arrange them in several different ways. So, what I was playing in the intro is exactly this little chord progression, let me show you exactly how I did it. So, I’m not even playing all the notes in A minor, I’m playing the A and the C, and it’s already enough to understand the chord. And then playing my E65, so I have the E note, the B note, and the C note and then make sure to put the B and the C note in the same octave so that I maximize the dissonance.

And I’m playing my F, my F chord. And if you notice, I already have the C note of the F chord coming from the E65. And so, I’m keeping that same position and I’m just changing two notes to get to F. Then I’m gonna play the G65, and I’m going to do the opposite of what I did before, I’m gonna put this five and the six into different octave, so essentially, I’m gonna play the G, the E, and the D at the higher octave. And that’s the chord progression I played for you guys before.

I could have made completely different choices here, I could have, I mean, even with the exact same chord progression, I could have arranged it in completely different ways. I could, for instance, have played the A minor this way, playing the root, third, fifth, and higher root, all there on the fifth fret, following it with the E65 but this time I’m going to separate the C and the B on different octaves. So, I’m playing E, C, high B.

Then I could follow this with the F playing the root F, and the third and the fifth at the higher octave. And then follow with my G65, but this time, I’m gonna have the five and six on the same low octave. So, I’m gonna get G, D, and E. That’s quite a jump in the melody. If you don’t like that I can always decide to do like I did before and play the G, the E, and high D or again, up to you, same chord progression, still hauntingly beautiful. Okay, so again, the two very simple rules here to use this five six chord, by the way, there is no set order, you can call it the five six chord or the six five chord however you want. But the way to use this wonderful chord:

One way is to simply put it before any other chord, and with the root one step below the following chord and make sure you follow the scale. It sounds good all the time. It’s kind of magic, try and use it because it’s absolutely fantastic how taking any chord progression, doesn’t matter how simple, this will always work. or like we’ve seen before you can use this chord like Metallica and simply use this chord in isolation and milk this dissonance for all it’s worth.

That’s not the only possible application of this chord and in the future, I’m going to have another video where I’m showing you a more complex application, but that deserves its own video, because otherwise, this video becomes way, way way too long. Now when you’re writing music with those chords, it really pays to know your fretboard inside out. So, you can find the chords and the different positions of those chords at a moment’s notice, without spending too much time doing mental calculations.

To achieve that result of really knowing your fretboard, I recommend you guys check out my course complete chord mastery. It’s not a book. It’s a complete video course that takes you from the basics up. We do everything you need to know about harmony and chords on your guitar. All the theory is done straight on the fretboard. There is no theory for the sake of theory here. Everything is immediately practical. And everything is developed through exercises, so you know how to apply this immediately on your guitar. If you have just a minute, click on the link on the top right to check out complete code mastery.

If you liked this video, smash that like button and don’t forget to subscribe and click on notifications, otherwise YouTube will not let you know when I put up a new video. And if you have any comments, feedback, suggestions, write them down in the comment. I enjoy reading from you. This is Tommaso Zillio for MusicTheoryForGuitar.com, and until next time, enjoy.

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