Unit 5: Modal Mixture, Neapolitan and Augmented Sixth Chords

Modal Mixture

Mode Mixture—the use of elements (scale degrees, chords) from two parallel keys within a passage of music; in particular, the borrowing of elements from the parallel minor key.


  • Pd, Pg, and T. The functions involved are mainly Pd and Pg, with minor tonic also occurring fairly frequently.
  • Chords borrowed from minor do not change in function when imported into the parallel major key.
  • There are two main kinds of chromaticism, modal mixture and tonicization.  I prefer to draw a clear line of distinction between them by saying that all dominant-function chords and secondary dominants are examples of tonicization, not modal mixture.  A viio7 chord, with b^6, and V7/IV, with its b^7, are examples of tonicization, even though one of their tones is found in the parallel minor key.


  • When writing mixture chords, treat b^6 carefully:

Do not double it.  Resolve it to ^5, as you would in minor.

Exception: when b^6 is a root, in a bVI chord, it may be doubled.

  • Once you introduce b^6, keep using it until it resolves.

For example, avoid the succession bVI-IV-V and use bVI-iv-V instead.

  • Avoid parallel 5ths/8ves from bVI to V and in deceptive motion from V to bVI.

 Modal Mixture: Introduction

 Modal Mixture Analysis: Schumann


Neapolitan Sixth Chord
The Neapolitan chord is bII.  It is usually in first inversion (bII6), and so, it is called the “Neapolitan sixth” chord.  It consists of ^4 in the bass, b^6, and the root, b^2.

 Neapolitan Sixth: Writing Basic Resolutions


 Neapolitan Sixth: Writing Complex Resolutions

Augmented Sixth Chords

 Augmented Sixth Chords: Introduction

 Aug. 6th: Diagram

 Aug. 6th: Brahms Example

 Aug. 6th: Mozart Example

Identify and Resolve Italian Augmented Sixth Chords

Identify and Resolve French Augmented Sixth Chords

 Identify and Resolve German Augmented Sixth Chords

 Aug. 6th: Write and Resolve

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