What are Disguised Chords

Disguised chords are like an undercover cop (no one expects him to be what he really is). This type of chord is usually an inverted chord that, due to its structure, does not make its harmonic function clear at first sight in the song.

See the example below:

| Fmaj7 | Gm6 | A7(b9) | Dm7 |

In this case, Gm6 is acting disguised as Em7(b5). Notice how these two chords have exactly the same notes:

  • Notes of Gm6: G, Bb, D, E
  • Notes of Em7(b5): E, G, Bb, D

Through the previous progression, Gm6 was appearing to be the 2nd degree of F, when it actually acted as 2nd degree of D. It is interesting to note that, in this case, we had an imperfect cadence.

Disguised chords are interesting when you want to make an unusual cadence. You can experiment with playing inverted chords within different contexts by inventing cadences that do not immediately signal to the listener the real intention of the movement.

Go to: Tone vs Tonality

Back to: Module 8