When it comes to music theory, there are certain terms that might seem confusing or unfamiliar to beginners. One such term is the “passing 6 4.” In this article, we will explore what a passing 6 4 is and how it is used in music.

What is a Passing 6 4?

A passing 6 4, also known as a linear chord or linear harmony, is a type of chord progression that is often used in classical music. It gets its name from the fact that it involves a passing tone between two chords, which creates a harmonic tension and release.

How Does It Work?

In a passing 6 4 progression, the chord progression usually goes from the tonic (I) to the dominant (V), but instead of going directly to the dominant chord, it passes through an intermediate chord. This intermediate chord is usually a first inversion chord (6) that resolves to the dominant (5). The resulting progression looks like this: I – 6 – V.


Let’s take the key of C major as an example. The I chord in this key would be C major (C-E-G), while the V chord would be G major (G-B-D). To create a passing 6 4 progression, we would insert an intermediate chord between these two chords.

One common intermediate chord used in this progression is the first inversion of IV (F-A-C) – which gives us F-A-D-G. This creates a harmonious line between C-E-G – A-C-E – G-B-D.


In notation, we could write this progression as follows:


Where Is It Used?

Passing 6 4 progressions are commonly used in classical music, particularly in sonatas and symphonies. They can also be found in other genres such as jazz and pop music. They are often used to create a sense of tension and resolution, and are an effective way to transition between two chords.


In conclusion, a passing 6 4 is a type of chord progression that involves an intermediate chord between the tonic and dominant chords. It creates tension and release by using passing tones to connect two chords. While it may seem confusing at first, it is a common technique used in classical music that can add depth and interest to any composition.