Four Famous Songs that Use the Flat Six Chord

by Rodrigo Sanchez, Aug 7, 2020 . 4 min read

Four Famous Songs that Use the Flat Six Chord

A flat-six chord is a great tool to spice up a chord progression. It is one of the most common non-diatonic chord choices used in popular music and beyond.

If those two sentences sound more complicated than brain surgery, worry not: it is easier than it sounds. The number six simply refers to the position of a note on any major scale. For instance, A is the sixth note of the C major scale (C, D, E, F, G, A, B). Take your time and count the notes with your fingers, I’ll wait. Now, if we have a “Flat Six” chord, we’ll end up with the sixth degree flatted, or Ab. If this still sounds too complicated, read up on harmony and you’ll understand all of this and more very quick. Without further due, here are four famous songs that used the flat-six chord.

“Peggy Sue” by Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly’s influence in music was immense. So it’s no surprise that “Peggy Sue” would make the list, as this song is a reference to many music legends. The song is in A, with your typical blues progression chords (A, D, E). It is all very orthodox until the appearance of the F chord (mister flat-six himself). It takes the song to another level and adds a lot of flavors. Music icons such as Ron Wood, Paul McCartney, and Graham Nash were influenced by “Peggy Sue”. 

“More Than A Feeling” by Boston

This timeless power ballad was written by Tom Scholtz, founding member (and only current original member) of the legendary band Boston. It was “More Than A Feeling” that took Boston to the top of the charts for the first time ever. The flat-six chord is used very cleverly here. It’s placed in the emotional peak of the song. In this case, it’s a Eb at the end of the line “I see my Marianne walk away”. The song is on the key of G and the presence of the flat-six chords has a gigantic effect on the effectiveness of the arrangement as well. 

“Cocaine” by Eric Clapton

Many of you probably can’t get enough of this (no pun intended). Written by J.J. Cale over forty years ago, “Cocaine” is a staple of Rock n’ Roll to this day. And in this case, the use of the flat six chord is present in the chorus. The progression is E, D, C, B. “Cocaine” is in the key of E, and the C chord is that flat-six degree that adds a special something. And that is precisely the charm of this chord: it sounds fresh and new, but still fits perfectly when used cautiously and in moderation. Just like with “Cocaine” (no, no pun intended, I promise). 

“I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles

When it comes to songwriting, the Beatles are unparalleled. This one was written by the greatest songwriting duo ever: Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Here, the flat-six chord comes as a C. We are in the key of E major, and the C provides great forward motion as well as a point of inflection for the chorus. Much like “Peggy Sue”, “I Saw Her Standing There” uses rather basic chords. The flat-six makes both of these songs stand out with that very unique flavor that the chord provides.

The flat-six chord is truly a magnificent way to add a je-ne-se-quais to your songs. It can work even in traditional situations. It is great to break away from chord progressions that might start sounding dull after a while. When used cleverly it can mark that special moment of a song. Or it can just give it an above-normal forward motion. Those are not minor words. Feel free to leave us a comment.

Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!

Check out some other similar articles

Take advantage of our biggest backer-exclusive discounts and get your hands on this next-generation automatic tuner. Back the Kickstarter campaign today and be the first to receive the Roadie 3.

Downpicking exercises are a must for many guitarists. Do you play metal? Better start working on that downpicking today. Do you like Rock? You will definitely be downpicking a while. Do you ever play power chords?

Rodrigo Sanchez
Oct 16, 2020 . 4 min read

Joe Pass is one of the most influential jazz guitarists ever. His playing style has influenced countless generations of jazz musicians.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Sep 28, 2020 . 4 min read

Recent discussion at tendermeets revolved around how romance inspires music and creativity for artists of all kinds.

Augusto Palmeri
Sep 15, 2020 . 5 min read

The best recording software today will work fine for experienced engineers and beginners alike. In other words, there is no such thing as the best recording software for beginners.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Sep 14, 2020 . 4 min read

Ah, good ol’ distortion lines! As someone once said: “There’s no such thing as too much distortion”, and I couldn’t agree more.

Alexis Baydoun
Sep 11, 2020 . 5 min read

Is lo-fi the smooth jazz of the new generation? No. It is not. Lo-Fi is not the smooth jazz of the generation. But what is Lo-fi after all?

Rodrigo Sanchez
Sep 4, 2020 . 3 min read

Nothing can make us travel back in time like music. We all remember those special songs that we heard in special moments. Songs and albums that touched our lives uniquely.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Aug 28, 2020 . 4 min read

Some might say country music has a way of telling stories, unlike any other genre. And once you get past trucks, football, and bourbon references, you can truly hear it.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Aug 18, 2020 . 4 min read

Roadie Music has followers ranging from eager beginners to seasoned professionals. Whatever your level of skill, it’s always good to aspire to become better.

Frederik Nielsen
Aug 12, 2020 . 4 min read

The bass might be the most underrated instrument in the band. It might also be the most important. Don’t believe me? If the guitar player, drummer, keyboardist, or singer makes a mistake, you might not even notice.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Aug 2, 2020 . 4 min read

Bob Dylan has been a staple of music and culture for over 50 years. He’s considered by many one of the greatest songwriters to ever live.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 30, 2020 . 4 min read

There are countless underrated rock legends who don’t get the recognition they deserve. But imagine actually receiving critical acclaim for your work… and still not being remembered.

Frederik Nielsen
Jul 27, 2020 . 4 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!