If you were to play a first inversion A minor triad, can't you also hear it as a C6 chord? I suppose it has to do with context or something. Anyone want to explain?

Why would the chord now with a C in the bass still be referred to as a minor chord? It clearly could sound like a C6 chord.
Last edited by Unreal T at Jul 30, 2014,
Truth is, a C6 chord can sound very different depending on the context.

Just to give a few examples,
If the A note is held over the whole progression, it's just a pedal point that doesn't really colour the chord that much.
If it's the first chord in a sequence, it can sound like an ambiguous "C major but it kinda sounds a bit minor"
If it comes in between two A minor chords, it may sound like an Am chord with the bass note changing from the root to the third, back to the root (inversion)
If it comes after a G7 chord, it's a very final sounding tonic C major chord, with a hint of something else (wistful? jazzy? or just final.)

You see, the names of the chords are still quite a broad umbrella. Once you hear the difference between different ways of playing the same chord, you will see why sometimes it gets a different name. My third example would be called something like "Am7/C" or "Am first inversion." All the other examples are called C6.
learning inversions will open a whole new world of harmony to you..moving voices..with some study you will discover counter point - one voice moving higher another moving lower and the chords they create in their movement may be inversions of chords .. some you may already know some will be new to you...

the names of chords depends much on context of their harmonic movement..where are they moving from and moving to...it may be a C6 or just an Ami7 with C, E or G in the bass..

play well

Quote by Unreal T
I suppose it has to do with context or something.

Short answer is yes, it is entirely about context.

There is certainly value in understanding chord names and relationships, and what chord name fits in a particular key. But ultimately, if it sounds good, it sounds good, and I'm not too concerned with figuring out exactly what the proper name of it is.
Everything is all about context.

When I have to play a C6 chord, that's exactly what I play. An Am7 chord (ACEG); the rest of the band and/or song context keeps it from sounding like A minor.

In fact, you can follow this all the way down the rabbit hole. It is precisely these principles that allow us, with only four fingers, to successfully voice large multi-note chords, like 13th chords.

For example:

Bassist plays C -> I play Gmaj7 = Cmaj7#11.

Just voiced a (technically) six note chord with 4 fingers.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
Last edited by Jet Penguin at Aug 16, 2014,