The Mystery of the Augmented Chord
The Concept of the Augmented Chord
Welcome to PlayThePianos.
Hello, friends. Welcome back to PlayThePianos in another chord series. In this lesson, we would be going into deep study on a particular type of chord named, Augmented chord. As usual, tho is a very interesting topic; so pay close attention to the teaching. And hey, guys, if you find anything confusing or you have any question, don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments box OR chat directly with me on wow app by clicking here. So let us dive in….
What is the concept of Augmented chords? What are Augmented chords? Well, it is pretty easy; it is not magic!
I would say, in English language, ‘Augment’ as a word exists. Augmented is derived from the word ‘Augment’, and augment means to make sometjing bigger; to increase the size, amount or quantity of a thing; to compound something etc. That is the English definition, and the same applies to music. In line with chords, augmented chords means a bigger or compounded chord or triad. An augmented chord is a chord whose interval has been increased. I hope you get the analogy!
The opposite of Augmented chord is Diminished chord. While the former means to increase or compound the interval, the latter means to decrease or compress the interval. So cheap to get!
Why is it called an Augmented chord?
Good question, buddy! It is called an augmented chord because the intervals between the notes have been increased. On the other part of the coin, a diminished chord is called so because the intervals between the notes have been decreased. Copy? For example, from our basic major triad whose formula is 1 3 5(d m s), we would get an Augmented chord from it by simply increasing the 5 by a half step(semitone) to be #5 or b6. We can also form an augmented triad chord from minor triad whose formula is 1 b3 5, by raising the b3 and 5 by half steps to give 3(major third) and #5 or b6 (Minor 6th interval).
Augmented chords are mostly the fourth type of chords a teacher would teach their pupils. First is Major; Second is Minor; Third is Diminished. Like Diminished triads, whose symbol of representation is a small circle(o), placed on the top right of the note eg. D°, C°, F#° etc, the Aug chord is represented with a plus sign (+) placed also on the top right of the note or key ie D+, C+, F#+ etc. Sorry, my device’s keyboard didn’t allow me to put the + on the top.
As mentioned in my previous posts, ALL chords MUST have principles guiding the way they are formed, and this principle is known as the formula, just like no question can be solved in mathematics without the formula. A chord must have a well defined formula that helps people to build it. From previous posts, we learnt that, the formulae for building major chords is 1 3 5, minor is 1 b3 5 and so on. In line with this, the golden formula for constructing this guy called Augmented chord is 1 3 #5. Yes, 1 3 #5…1 3 #5. Some people prefer it in solfa notation; and in solfa notation, the note names are do mi si. The 1 represents the root A.K.A Tonic or Tonal centre; The 3 represents the major third(Third degree of the major scale A.K.A Mediant); and the #5 represents the Minor sixth. Enharmonically, the #5(Sharp 5) is the same as b6(flat 6). It means that it is either you sharpen the fifth note (Sol) or flatten the sixth note(la). By both ways, we are actually doing the same thing.
SHOCKING NEWS AND FACTS
1. Aug chords are not used by a majority of beginners and intermediates. This is so true; most do not even know it exists. Many have not even heard the name before…LOL. Congrats, you are no longer on that category again because you just gt informed and you now have an expensive treasure.
2. Aug triads are not naturally found as a triad on any degree of the major or minor scales. The sequence of triads on each degree(note) of the major scale is: MAJOR, MINOR, MINOR, MAJOR, MAJOR, MINOR, DIMINISHED.
From above, Augmented triad chord cannot be found on any note. Do not forget that the minor scale is the same as the major scale, just that it starts and ends on the relative minor. If you don’t understand this, please don’t hesitate to check the previous lessons.
3. Since the Augmented triad cannot be found on any degree of the natural minor scale, which scale can it be found in? It is found in the third degrees of the Harmonic and Melodic minor scales. If you read my tutorials on the Harmonic and melodic scale, you won’t be in doubt of this. 4. Boom! We have only four Augmented triads in music. Four!!! How possible is that? Well, that is the fact – we have four. ALL other augmented triads are inversions of these four types: this makes it very easy to figure out and apply also.
Also, this nature of the augmented chord being four in number is similar to the Fully Diminished seventh chord. How did I know that? We’ll, I will prove it in a jiffy!
AUGMENTED CHORDS ON ALL THE KEYS
Like I mentioned earlier, we have only four Aug chords in music: others are derived by simply inverting the four chords. You know about chord inversions?
Here is the mathematics: An augmented triad has 3 notes, but there are four of these chords in music. So, by simply inverting them, we get 4 times 3, which gives us 12 keys.. So, the four types are:
C augmented chord – C E G#
Db – Db F A
D – D F# A#
Eb – Eb G B
The inverted Augmented chords are:
E – E Ab C
F – F A C#
Gb – Gb Bb D
G – G B D#
Ab – Ab C E
A – A C# E#
Bb – Bb D Gb
B – B Eb G
Compare the four chords with those inverted. Now you see that the latter is truly inverted.
HOW TO USE AUG CHORDS
Augmented chords are unstable chords; and unstable chords always want to resolve. Therefore, they are not used in the main progression.
The most common and suitable use of Aug chords is as passing chords. Augmented chords sound good when used as passing chords. An augmented chord on the root(1st degree) of the major scale, resolves(and passes) to the chord of the sixth degree of the major scale. What do I mean? In the key of C major (C D E F G A B), C Aug(C+), which is C E G# can be used as a passing chord and resolves to the sixth chord in C major, which is A Minor(In 1st inversion= C E A). If you noticed, the accidental note (G#), which is unstable wants to resolve to the more stable note(A), while the two other notes in the chord maintain their positions. In a 1 – 6 – 4 – 5 chord progression in C major which is C – A – F – G , you can add a C augmented chord in-between the 1 and 6 to give: C – C+ – A – F – G.
What is the sixth degree of F Major? It is D. So in the key of F major, F Augmented would resolve to D Minor; it also serves as a passing chord.
So, friends, that is the most basic idea about Augmented chords. If you have any question, suggestion, addition or any other thing, feel free to drop them in the comments box or chat with me directly on Wowapp.
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