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Everything you wanted to know about the augmented chord but were afraid to ask: Part II - Forget the triad

As mentioned towards the end of my previous post on the augmented chord, the notes that fall outside of the augmented triad are the ones that determine where the music is heading.

For example: If we take the C+ triad, C E G#, we are left with the notes on A, B, D, and F. They don't have to be those exact notes of course but a combination of notes beginning with the letters of the alphabet, followed by accidentals.

If A, B, D, and F are played in conjunction with the notes of the triad over the C+ chord, then the scale used is A Harmonic minor and resolves to A minor, or a degree from the scale. This creates the sound of C Ionian +. If we use the enharmonic equivalent of Ab for G#, and then play the notes Db, F, G, Bb over the C+ chord, we are using F Harmonic minor, which is where it can resolve, unless of course it is interrupted. This is C Phrygian Dominant. Likewise, substituting Fb for the note E and calling the C+: C Fb Ab we can play Db, Eb, Gb and Bbb. This is mode VII of Db Harmonic minor, C Alt bb7.

Now, until the point of resolution is reached, while the augmented chord is still playing, pretty much anything goes. Think of it as interrupting yourself, or changing one's mind. Play all three of the modes mentioned above. You have all 12 notes of the chromatic scale at hand, but the choice of notes to be played is much easier to determine when the scale of origin is known. It will also make sense, rather than coming up with phrases of random notes.

The key is to decide which scale you are resolving to, and to then arrange notes from that scale towards the end of the duration of the C+ chord. So over C+, try C Alt bb7 then C Phrygian Dominant followed by C Ionian + and then resolve to A minor. Or any other possible combination.

This method applies to all other scales that are compatible with an augmented chord such as Melodic, Harmonic Major etc.

In part III I shall take a look at some more unusual choices that can be played over the augmented chord, including the scale which was issued as a challenge for musicians to try and harmonise in music, the Enigmatic.


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