• Five Theoretical Facts About The Augmented Triad That You Must Know

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Theory

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    It’s not all the time that we get to talk about the augmented triad.

    A vast majority of the lessons you’ll find on the internet are basically concerned with major, minor, and dominant chords. You may easily find lessons on diminished and altered chords.

    But the augmented chord is rarely the focus and that’s why I’ve decided to dedicate this lesson to the augmented chord and I’ll be showing you five theoretical facts about the augmented triad that you must know.

    Let’s get started!

    Five Theoretical Facts About The Augmented Triad That You Must Know

    A classic example of the augmented triad is the C augmented triad:

    …which consists of C, E, and G#.

    Beyond knowing the notes of the augmented triad and how it can be formed in all twelve keys on the keyboard, let’s go ahead and explore five theoretical facts about the augmented triad.

    Fact #1 — “The Augmented Triad Can Be Derived From The Whole Tone Scale”

    Although the augmented chord can be associated with the melodic minor scale, the whole tone scale can also be used in the formation of the augmented triad.

    Using the C whole tone scale:

    …you can form the C augmented triad by playing the first, third, and fifth tones of the scale.

    C is the first tone:

    D is the second tone:

    E is the third tone:

    F# is the fourth tone:

    G# is the fifth tone:

    A# is the sixth tone:

    Playing the first, third, and fifth tone (which are C, E, and G#):

    …produces the C augmented triad.

    Following the same procedure, the augmented triad can be formed using any given whole tone scale.

    Fact #2 — “The Augmented Triad Is Symmetrical”

    The augmented triad is said to be symmetrical because it can be divided into identical parts.

    The C augmented triad:

    …can be divided into two identical major third intervals:



    This is unlike major and minor triads where the triad can NOT be divided into two identical parts. For the C major triad:

    …the interval between C and E (which is a major third):

    …differs from the interval between E and G (which is a minor third):

    So, the augmented triad is symmetrical and consists of two identical major third intervals.

    Fact #3 — “The Augmented Triad Is Chromatic”

    Irrespective of the major key you’re in, there’s no augmented triad that is diatonic.

    All augmented triads are chromatic because they consist of one or two notes that are outside the key you’re in. In the key of C major:

    …the C augmented triad:

    …is chromatic because of the G# note:

    Attention: I’m sure you’re already conversant with the C major scale and that there’s no G# in the C major scale.

    Every other augmented triad on the keyboard is chromatic to the key of C major:

    From the Db augmented triad:

    …to the D augmented triad:

    …to the F augmented triad:

    …to the Ab augmented triad:

    …and every other augmented triad on the keyboard.

    Fact #4 — “The Augmented Triad Is Dissonant”

    The term dissonant can mean incomplete and is used to refer to chords that sound unpleasant and also have the tendency to move to other chords when played.

    For example, when the C major triad:

    …is played, it sounds complete and pleasant; having a sense of repose and you’ll also see that the tones are resonating with each other.

    Playing a dissonant chord like the augmented triad leaves you incomplete; hence, the tendency to move to a complete and pleasant chord.

    The C augmented triad:

    …is dissonant and has a tendency to move to a complete or pleasant chord when played. This movement is known as resolution and we’ll talk more about it in fact #5.

    Fact #5 — “The Augmented Triad Resolves Upwards By A Half-step”

    Now that you know that the augmented triad is dissonant and can resolve, let’s go ahead and talk about how it resolves.

    The resolution of the augmented triad would take up an entire blog post if we’re to deal with it and this is because the augmented triad resolves in so many ways.

    But if someone asks you the basic resolution of the augmented triad, or gives you an augmented triad to resolve, you should be able to resolve the augmented triad by progressing to a major or minor chord that is a half-step above the augmented chord.

    For example, the C augmented chord:

    ….can resolve in two basic ways:

    To the Db major chord:

    To the C# minor chord:

    Submission: I know that the resolution of the C augmented chord should be to the Db minor chord (and every theoretician will agree to this.) However, the use of the C# minor chord (the enharmonic equivalent of the Db minor chord) is deliberate.

    So, for every augmented chord given, resolve it by going up by a half-step to a major or minor chord.

    “Here Are My Final Words”

    I hope that the few theoretical facts I’ve been able to share with you in this lesson will deepen your insight on the augmented triad.

    In a subsequent lesson, we’ll look at how the augmented triad can be applied in playing songs.

    Very special thanks to my mentor and teacher, Jermaine Griggs, for the opportunity to share these helpful insights with you. I’m looking out for your contributions, questions, and suggestions in the comment section.

    Thanks for reading and see you in the next lesson.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku (aka - "Dr. Pokey") is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.


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