• Who Else Wants To Learn About The Augmented Scale?

    in Experienced players,Improvisation,Piano,Scales,Theory

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    This lesson is for anyone who wants to learn about the augmented scale.

    We have a lot to cover in today’s lesson, therefore, permit me get started by giving you an overview of augmented ideas.

    What Comes To Mind When You Hear The Term ‘Augmented’

    As a serious musician, I believe you must have come across the term augmented at one point or the other – as a scale, interval, or chord.

    For some specific reasons, ideas that belong to the augmented family (whether it’s a scale, interval, or chord) are not as popular as major and minor ideas. This explains why a vast majority of musicians shy away from them.

    “Let me tell you why people shy away from augmented ideas…”

    Augmented intervals are harsh. When an interval is played, there are basically two outcomes – the interval would either sound pleasant or unpleasant. Augmented intervals sound unpleasant and harsh  and are sparingly used.

    The augmented chord is unstable. The interval between the root and the fifth tone of the augmented chord is an augmented fifth interval. Music scholars classify the augmented fifth interval as an unstable interval, consequently, the augmented chord is unstable.

    The augmented chord is not a scale degree chord in the major key. In the major key, there are three major triads, three minor triads, and one diminished triad. Although the augmented triad is the third scale degree chord in the melodic minor scale, it is not a scale degree chord in the natural minor scale.

    There’s no augmented key. There are major and minor keys right? However, there are no augmented keys. Believe it or not, if there were augmented keys (let’s say the key of G augmented), augmented scales, intervals, and chords will be easier to apply.

    Due to all these considerations, augmented scales, intervals, and chords are rarely used. A vast majority of musicians pay all the attention in the world to major and minor chords and little or no attention to the augmented chord for a variety of reasons.

    Although, the augmented scale is not one of the traditional scales we covered in a previous lesson, it’s a useful scale in jazz improvisation and that’s why I think it’s worth sharing.

    A Note On The Augmented Scale

    Scales are important in music because they are the source of melodies and harmonies. The major and minor scales are the primary melodic and harmonic sources of the major and minor keys respectively.

    A Scale according to Jermaine Griggs “…is a regular succession of notes in ascending or descending order, which is based on a fixed formula.”

    The augmented scale is a regular succession of notes that can be played or heard in ascending or descending direction.

    Take note that the augmented scale is the harmonic source of the augmented triad. It’ll also interest you to know that the augmented triad constitutes of 50% of the notes of the augmented scale.

    Consequently, the augmented scale is easy for anyone who knows the augmented triad in all twelve keys to learn. Here are the augmented triads in all twelve keys…

    C augmented triad:

    Db augmented triad:

    D augmented triad:

    Eb augmented triad:

    E augmented triad:

    F augmented triad:

    Gb augmented triad:

    G augmented triad:

    Ab augmented triad:

    A augmented triad:

    Bb augmented triad:

    Cb augmented triad:

    …(aka – “B augmented triad”)
    “Here are two variants of the augmented scale…”

    Variant #1

    The C augmented scale:

    Variant #2

    The C augmented scale:

    Attention: The C augmented triad accounts for 50% of the entire notes in both variants of the C augmented scale.

    Alright! Let’s take this study to the next level by breaking down the augmented scale. Although there are two variants of the augmented scale, we’ll be focusing more on the first variant in this study.

    A Breakdown Of The Augmented Scale

     

    In traditional scales, the distance between notes are usually half steps and whole steps. Melodic progressions that are bigger than the whole step are rarely used because they produce gapped scales.

    In the C natural major scale:

    …there are half steps (aka – “semitones”) between the third and fourth (E and F):

    …and the seventh and eighth (B and C):

    …degrees. There are also whole steps (aka – “tones”) between the first and second (C and D):

    …second and third (D and E):

    …etc. Distances of three half steps (aka – “sesquitone“) are gapped and rarely used. The sesquitone is the distance between the sixth and seventh tone of the harmonic minor scale.

    The C harmonic minor scale:

    …has a sesquitone between Ab and B:

    …which are its sixth and seventh tones.

    Augmented scales are formed from the relationship between the sesquitone and semitone melodic progressions, consequently, they are gapped.

    The C augmented scale:

    …is a product of three sesquitone and three semitone progressions.

    Sesquitone progressions…

    C-Eb:

    E-G:

    G#-B:

    Semitone progressions…

    Eb-E:

    G-G#:

    B-C:

    “In a nutshell…”

    Augmented scales can be broken down into sesquitone and semitone progressions.

    Although there are three half steps in the sesquitone progression, it’s better to consider it as a minor third or augmented second interval. The semitone progression is easier to apply because of its relationship with regular half steps I suppose you’re familiar with.

    Now you’ve seen the two main components of the augmented scale, let’s proceed to its formation.

    The Formation Of The Augmented Scale

    There are two common ways to form the augmented scale. Both ways will be easy for you if you’re familiar with the melodic progressions we covered in the last segment and the augmented triads we covered in an earlier segment.

    “Check them out…”

    Formation Technique #1 – The Use Of Melodic Progressions

    The augmented scale can be formed using two melodic progressions – the sesquitone and semitone progressions.

    “Here’s how it works…”

    We’ll be starting from C:

    …and adding a sesquitone above C (which is Eb):

    …then a semitone above Eb (which is E):

    That’s basically how we can alternate between the sesquitone and semitone progression from C to C:

    “Take a closer look…”

    Sesquitone – C to Eb:

    Semitone – Eb to E:

    Sesquitone – E to G:

    Semitone – G to G#:

    Sesquitone – G# to B:

    Semitone – B to C:

    “Let’s take one more example…”

    Here’s how to form the C# augmented scale:

    Starting from C#:

    Sesquitone – C# to E:

    Semitone – E to E#:

    Sesquitone – E# to G#:

    Semitone – G# to A:

    Sesquitone – A to C:

    Semitone – C to C#:

    If you follow the same procedure, you’ll form the augmented scale in all twelve keys.

    Formation Technique #2 – The Use Of Triads

    The augmented scale can be formed using the augmented triads we covered earlier. The C augmented scale:

    …can be broken down into two augmented triads…

    The C augmented triad:

    …and the Eb augmented triad:

    Therefore, the notes of the C and Eb augmented triads:

    …if played in one octave:

    …produces the C augmented scale.

    “Here’s What You Need To Know…”

    The augmented scale can be formed by the combination of two augmented triads that are a minor third apart from each other.

    Due to the fact that the minor third encompasses three half steps, we can also say that the melodic progression between both augmented triads is a sesquitone.

    D and F:

    …are a minor third apart from each other, consequently, the D augmented:

    …and the F augmented triad:

    …(played in one octave):

    …produces the D augmented scale.

    G and Bb:

    …are a minor third apart from each other, consequently, the G augmented:

    …and the Bb augmented triad:

    …(played in one octave):

    …produces the G augmented triad.

    Final Words

    That’s the much we can cover for today. This is a preparatory lesson for what we’ll be covering subsequently. You’ll do well to practice the augmented scale in all twelve keys following the reference below…

    C augmented scale:

    Db augmented scale:

    D augmented scale:


    Eb augmented scale:

    E augmented scale:

    F augmented scale:

    Gb augmented scale:

    G augmented scale:

    Ab augmented scale:

    A augmented scale:

    Bb augmented scale:

    Bb augmented scale:


    See you in the next lesson!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Khathutshelo

    My other way of remembering the scale will be to Stack two triads, for C augmented scale i will stack C minor and E major triads i.e root minor triad and major third major triad.

    Reply

    2 Chuku Onyemachi

    Great!
    Thank you for sharing…

    Reply

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