Augmented Chords: “Spacey Connectors”
Augmented chords are really very interesting and unique in at least a couple of ways. For one, when you play an augmented chord in an isolated manner, it might sound like you’re in space for a moment or two. Others have described it as kind of a “morning mist” kind of sound. Chances are good that, if you have watched any “space” programs on television like Lost In Space, you have been exposed to hearing augmented chords at some point.
In addition, more often than not, augmented chords are used a “connecting” chords between Major chords, minor chords, or both. Of course, if used for sound effect, they are quite effective on their own.
It seems rather appropriate that a “spacey” effect results from augmented chords. You see, their construction is the most “spacious” as well. Let’s take a look…
Just One Easy Switch
Once again, here is that Cmaj triad with its half step construction:
Now, let’s look at a C augmented triad:
Play this chord. Also, take a look at its half step construction. Of all the four triads that we have to learn, the augmented triad has the largest intervals between its chord tones. We could say that it is the most “spacious” chord, yes! And it sounds that way, too! (Music is awesome, isn’t it?)
Okay, so if we are to construct an augmented triad from scratch, we can use this simple procedure:
- choose a root (letter name of the chord)
- moving up 4 half steps to the next note of the chord
- moving up 4 more half steps to the final note of the chord
An Alternate Way Of Seeing It
Compare the construction of the C Major chord above with the C augmented chord. We could see this augmented triad as a major triad with the last note raised one half step. Which way do you prefer to see it? Whatever way you choose, it’s just fine. As we mentioned earlier, you won’t be needing to analyze the construction of these triads once you familiarize yourself with them more and more. Each of them will be instantly identified by you! How nice, huh?
How Augmented Chords Are Often Used
Here is an example of how we might see an augmented chord in the context of music:
Notice the other chord symbol. It makes sense that it’s a “+” sign since we “add one half step” to that last note of the chord. You can also see how the Eaug chord is used as a “connecting” chord between two Major chords.
Go ahead and turn this Fmaj triad into an Faug triad:
Here it is:
You are getting really good at this!
An augmented chord really does add a certain amount of richness to a chord progression. There are often times when it is inserted into a song even if the original music necessarily call for it. It adds “spice.”
Yes, you probably guessed by now that you’ll want to learn that augmented chord on all these roots:
C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A D G
Have a ball with it all! This whole process ought to be a lot of fun and very “ear-opening” for you :o)
Piano Chords 101 – Triads
(Video session & guidebook – instant access)