Augmented chords


Some Review

Recall from lesson on building a context that we've defined a chord as being 3 or more distinct notes, usually played at the same time. (C and D are considered distinct, but C# and Db are not, nor are octaves of the same note).

Recall that chords come in two basic parts, a letter name (C, C#, etc.) also known as a root note (tonic, 1), and a descriptive part that abbreviates the name of the chord (is a short-hand for all the intervals of each distinct note from the root note).

Recall that an interval is the distance between two notes, and that we are using numbers (with accidentals) to describe these intervals.(ex. 5 = perfect fifth, etc.) For more info on intervals see July19's lesson. to convert letters to numbers and numbers to letters, see the link below (bottom of page) on transposition.

Recall, we've previously defined the following chords:
major = 1,3,5
minor (m)= 1,b3,5
diminished (o)= 1,b3,b5
power chord (5) = 1,5,8(1)
dominant seventh chord (7) = 1,3,5,b7

Now we shall define the augmented chord as:
+ = 1,3,#5
Sometimes we write augmented chords as aug or + or +5. (Ex. Caug, D+,E+5 etc.)

Here are some open + chords to get you started:
A+=X03221, C+=X32110, D+=XX0332, E+=032110, Gm7=321003.

We note that a chord synonym for for I+ is III+ (or #V+). In the key of C:
C+ = C,E,G#
E+ = E,G#,B# (B# is enharmonic to C)
G#+ = G#,B#,DX (Dx is enharmonic to E)

So you could use as a substitute for a + chord, a + chord a major third higher than the + chord, or an augmented fifth higher{more on this below}. (you could substitute C+ for E+ or G#+)

Recalling how the chromatic scale maps out on a fretboard in standard tuning ( see July19's lesson). We can map out the + chord on the fretboard (shown here in F).

|-1|--|--|--|-3|--|--|--|#5|--|--|--|-1|
|--|#5|--|--|--|-1|--|--|--|-3|--|--|--|
|--|-3|--|--|--|#5|--|--|--|-1|--|--|--|
|--|--|-1|--|--|--|-3|--|--|--|#5|--|--|
|--|--|--|#5|--|--|--|-1|--|--|--|-3|--|
|-1|--|--|--|-3|--|--|--|#5|--|--|--|-1|

We can cut this up into zones of one sort or another. In previous lessons, we've been looking at shapes based on octave patterns. (A-shape, E-shape, etc.). So below are the 5 shapes along with some voicings in TAB that go along with the shape. All of these are for F+. To change to to another + chord, we use the same process as for other moveable chords (barre chords, etc.).

F+ "E-shape"(root note on the 6th string)

|-1-|---|---|---|  
|---|#5-|---|---|
|---|-3-|---|---|
|---|---|-1-|---|
|---|---|---|#5-|
|-1-|---|---|---|
  1   2   3   4

|--1-1---------1----|
|--2-2-2---2-2-2-2--|
|--2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2--|
|----3-3-3-3---3-3--|
|------4-4-----4-4--|
|--1-----1-1-1---5--|

F+ "D-shape" (root note on the 4th string)

|---|---|-3-|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|---|#5-|
|-1-|---|---|---|
|---|#5-|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|
  3   4   5   6 

|--5-5-5---5--|
|--6-6-6------|
|--6-6-6------|
|------3-3-3--|
|--------4-4--|
|----5---5----|

F+ "C-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|-3-|---|---|---|
|---|-1-|---|---|
|---|#5-|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|
|-3-|---|---|---|
  5   6   7   8

|--5-5---------5--|
|--6-6-6---6-6-6--|
|--6-6-6-6-6-6-6--|
|----7-7-7-7---7--|
|------8-8-----8--|
|--5-----9-5-5----|

F+ "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|---|#5-|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|
|---|---|-1-|---|
|---|---|---|#5-|
|-1-|---|---|---|
|---|#5-|---|---|
  8   9  10  11

|------9--9--9--9-----|
|--10-10-10-10-10-10--|
|--10-10-10-10----10--|
|--11----11-----------|
|---8--8--------8--8--|
|------------------9--|

F+ "G-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|---|---|---|-1-|
|-3-|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|---|---|
|---|#5-|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|
 10  11   12  13

|-------------13-|
|----10-10----10-|
|-10-10-10----10-|
|-11-11-11-11-11-|
|-12-12-12-12-12-|
|-13-13----13----|

Look again at the whole fretboard.

|-1|--|--|--|-3|--|--|--|#5|--|--|--|-1|
|--|#5|--|--|--|-1|--|--|--|-3|--|--|--|
|--|-3|--|--|--|#5|--|--|--|-1|--|--|--|
|--|--|-1|--|--|--|-3|--|--|--|#5|--|--|
|--|--|--|#5|--|--|--|-1|--|--|--|-3|--|
|-1|--|--|--|-3|--|--|--|#5|--|--|--|-1|

Notice how the pattern repeats itself through the fretboard. This is due to the augmented chords symmetrical nature. The upside of this is that we can play the same shape at multiple frets on the neck and get the same chord. So one way to look at it is to learn some moveable shapes, and if the root falls on any of the notes played when that shape is played then you are playing the the + chord.

Examples:

|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|-O-|---|---|
|---|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|---|-O-|

|---|---|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|-O-|---|---|
|---|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|---|---|

|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|-O-|---|---|
|---|-O-|---|---|
|---|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|

Line up any of the above three shapes with the root note that you want and you have the correct + chord that you're looking for.

For example, say i want an F#+ , I take the bottom shape and line up the chord so that the F# on the E-string corresponds to the note on the E-string in the shape, and I have an F#+ chord.

|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|-O-|---|---|
|---|-O-|---|---|
|---|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|
  2   3   4   5

Ok. So we can make many different voicings out of a given chord (many more than shown here). Choosing for ourselves just what voicing we're going to use to interpret a chord is one part of developing our own style.

CHORD SYNONYMS and INVERSIONS

(Look into inversions (aug 23rds, aug 30ths lessons) and chord synonyms (aug 23) if these ideas are new).

Root position + chord = 1,3,#5
A+ = A,C#,E#,G. (root position has 1 in the bass)

1rst inversion has 3rd in the bass.
A+/C# = C#,E#,A. What C# chord is this?
C#,E#,A = C#,E#,Gx = 1,3,#5
We could call this a C#+.

2nd inversion has 5th in the bass.
A+/E# = E#,A,C#. What E# chord is this?
E#,A,C# = E#,Gx,C# 1,3,#5
We could call this E#+

Due to the Symmetrical nature of the augmented chord, when we invert the chord we end up with the same structure as the original chord although starting on a different root.

To understand this, it helps to see that an augmented chord is created by stacking a major third on top of a major third, and that the augmented fifth which is created by doing this is a major third below the octave of the root note.

|----------|
|
|----------|
|   O
|----------|
|
|--#O------|
|
|---O------|

  --O--

Here above is the C+ chord. C to E is a major third, E to G# is a major third, and G# to C is a major third.

So for I+ we could substitute III+, or #V+

CHORDS in CONTEXT

We sometimes see + (+, aug, +5) chords written in songs, but is there a way to understand why they pop up where they do? Usually.

Recall, that we harmonized the major scale to get the chords (triads):
I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-viio (in the key of C: C-Dm-Em-F-G-Am-Bo)
The augmented chord is not found in the major scale or minor scale.

Where do + chords turn up in scales?

In the harmonic minor, the + shows up as bIII+, V+, and VII+.

In the melodic minor, there is bIII+, V+, and VII+.

In the gypsy minor, there is bIII+, V+, and VII+.

In the whole tone scale, an augmented chord can be built off all 6 steps, so I+, II+, III+, #IV+, #V+, #VI+ (Whole tone scale = 1,2,3,#4,#5,#6 = WWWWWW. With C root note = C,D,E,F#,G#,A#)

In the Enigmatic scale (Enigmatic = 1/2-m3-W-W-W-1/2-1/2 = 1,b2,3,#4,#5,#6,7) , there is I+, III+, #V+.

And i'll stop there, but it also pops up in the Neapolitan major, Neapolitan Minor, Persian, Hawaiian, and Bebop modes. I leave it to the reader as an exercise (for those interested ) to figure out which steps the + chord is found on in these scales and their modal families, as well as to look for augmented scales. (All of these scales can be found at http://simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/scales/scalesyl.html )

You might use such information to find a context for a specific progression, or to use as a starting point for "outside" sounds (try playing a melodic minor scale a minor third below a + whether or not it fits. How does that sound?)

So let's consider some progressions.

Augmented chords are often heard as passing chords, that is they are created as temporary chords while moving from one chord to another, in a series of chords.

There are; however, a couple of common progressions that we see augmented chords in, and we can create progressions oout of certain scales.

The most common progression (or cadence) is to go from an augmented chord up a perfect 5th to a major chord. I+ - IV
e.g. C+ - F, or G+ - C.

Because of the inversions of the augmented chord the above progression (I+ - IV), can be seen as being 2 other progressions,

I+ - bII
E+ - F , C+ - Db , etc.

and

I+ - bVII
G#+ - F

We can create progressions out of the previously mentioned scales (and their modes).

Looking at some of the scales and the triads and seventh chords created by harmonizing them in 3rds, we have :

Harmonic Minor scale (H.min. = 1,2,b3,4,5,b6,7):
in triads: i-iio-bIII+-iv-V-bVI-viio
in 7th chords: imaj7-ii7b5-bIIImaj7#5-iv7-V7-bVImaj7-viio7

From this we can create:
I+ - ii (ex. C+ - Dm) {compared to the root of H.min. this is bIII+ - iv, try playing A-Har.min. over C+ - Dm}

I+ - III (ex. C+ - E) {compared to the root of H.min. this is bIII+ - V, try playing A-Har.min. over C+ - E}

I+ - vi (ex. C+ - Am) {compared to the root of H.min. this is bIII+ - i, try playing A-Har.min. over C+ - Am}

I+ - IV (seen above) {compared to the root of H.min. this is bIII+ - bVI, try playing A-Har.min. over C+ - F}

and others.

Melodic minor (Mel.min. = 1,2,b3,4,5,6,7):
in triads: i-ii-bIII+-IV-V-vio-viio
in 7th chords: imaj7-ii7-bIIImaj7+5-IV7-V7-vi7b5-vii7b5

Again we find :

I+ - vi,
try playing A-Mel.min. over C+ - Am

and I+ - III
try playing A-mel.min. over C+ - E

We also find:

I+ - II
try playing A-mel.min. over C+ - D

and

I+ - vii
try playing A-mel.min. over C+ - Bm

and many others.

Gypsy minor(Gyp.min. = 1,2,b3,#4,5,b6,7):
in triads: i-IIb5-bIII+-#ivosus2-V-bVI-vii
in 7th chords: imaj7-II7b5-bIIImaj7#5-#ivo7sus2-Vmaj7-bVImaj7-viibb7 (vii6)

Again we find:

I+ - III
try playing A-gyp.min. over C+ - E

I+ - vi,
try playing A-Mel.min. over C+ - Am

I+ - IV
try playing A-Gyp.min. over C+ - F

and also,

I+ - #V ( or I+ - bvi)
try playing A-Gyp.min. over C+ - G#m

and many others.

It will help build up our ears to play such progressions and memorize how a I+- IV progression sounds, etc. so that we recognize them when we hear them.

EXTENSIONS

We can add extensions and alterations to the + chord. Here follows list below for the intermediate/advanced student to work through and explore. [note: some very easy alterations and their extensions are omited due to their common usage as being seen as functionally different.]

7+5, 7#5 = 1,3,#5,b7
9#5 = 1,3,#5,b7,9
7#9#5 = 1,3,#5,b7,#9
7b9#5 = 1,3,#5,b7,b9
7b9#5 = 1,3,#5,b7,b9
11#5 = 1,3,#5,b7,9,11
11#9#5 = 1,3,#5,b7,#9,11
11b9#5 = 1,3,#5,b7,b9,11
9#11#5 = 1,3,#5,b7,9,#11
7#11#9#5 = 1,3,#5,b7,#9,#11
7#11b9#5 = 1,3,#5,b7,b9,#11

maj7#5 = 1,3,#5,7
maj9#5 = 1,3,#5,7,9
maj7#9#5 = 1,3,#5,7,#9
maj7b9#5 = 1,3,#5,7,b9
maj11#5 = 1,3,#5,7,9,11
maj11#9#5 = 1,3,#5,7,#9,11
maj11b9#5 = 1,3,#5,7,b9,11
maj9#11#5 = 1,3,#5,7,9,#11
maj7#11#9#5 = 1,3,#5,7,#9,#11
maj7#11b9#5 = 1,3,#5,7,b9,#11


Next lesson is on Minor/Major Seventh chords.

Peace,
Christopher Roberts
snglstringtheory@aol.com


How do I change all those numbers to letters (for notes, chords, etc.)? Here's a transposition chart simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/guitar/8theory3.html

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Previous Lesson - altered Chords

Last updated September 19, 2002
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