• # The Resolution Of The Augmented Triad Has Never Been This Easy

A vast majority of musicians are yet to figure out the resolution of the augmented triad.

That’s why you should count yourself lucky to have arrived at this page because at the end of this lesson, you’ll be equipped with the six ways to resolve an augmented triad.

Attention: This lesson is written with intermediate players in mind. Those who already have an idea of what augmented triads are and a fair knowledge of how to play in all twelve keys.

Well, if you are a beginner reading this lesson, you’re fortunate as well because I’ll be giving you a brief review on the augmented triad that would get you started.

## A Review On The Augmented Triad

In a previous lesson on the augmented triad, we learned that the word augmented literally means to make larger. If you’d permit me to hit the nail on the head, I’d say that an augmented triad is actually a major triad with an augmented fifth.

I’m sure you are familiar with major triads on the keyboard and the most popular major triad which is the C major triad:

Raising the fifth tone of the C major triad (which is G):

…by a half step (to G#):

…which is a C major triad with an augmented (or larger) fifth.

### The Intervallic Breakdown Of The Augmented Triad

All chords (no matter how big or small) can be broken down into intervals. The various intervals a chord can be broken down to are known as its intervallic components.

“Let’s Quickly Break Down The Augmented Triad Into Its Intervallic Components…”

…as a reference, here are the intervallic components of the C augmented triad…

C-E:

…a major third interval.

C-G#:

…an augmented fifth interval.

The major third interval is the component that gives the augmented triad a major quality while the augmented fifth interval makes the augmented triad an unstable triad.

From the intervallic breakdown of the augmented triad, it can be said to be an unstable major chord.

“Check Out The Augmented Triad In All Twelve Keys…”

### The Symmetry Of The Augmented Triad

One of the unique features of the augmented triad is that it can be divided into equal parts and chords that can be divided into equal parts are said to be symmetrical.

…is played as a four note triad:

…the distance (in half steps) between successive chord tones is equivalent.

From C to E:

…encompasses four half steps and so does E to G#:

…and G# to C:

Therefore, for all intents and purposes, the augmented triad is a symmetrical chord.

## The Harmonic Function Of The Augmented Triad

The augmented triad in its purest form is an unstable chord because of the augmented fifth interval it is made up of. Hence, when it is played, the augmented triad has the tendency to move to a more stable chord.

Due to its unstable nature, the augmented triad fits into the category of chords known as passing chords. The basic harmonic function of passing chords is to connect scale-degree chords to scale-degree chords.

### The Activity Of The Augmented Triad

You remember what we learned earlier about the symmetry of the augmented triad right? The augmented triad consists of three notes that are apart from each other by four half steps, but that’s not all – there’s more to it.

Every tone in the augmented triad is active and has the tendency to function as a leading note.

The term leading note is used by music scholars to describe the degree of a scale (which is always the seventh degree) that is a half step below the first degree of the scale.

Attention: The leading note is an active tone of the scale and is usually the seventh scale degree in all traditional scales – save the natural minor scale. Always remember that all active tones tend to move towards stable tones.

“Here’s An Example…”

…lies a half step below D and that’s C#:

So, C# is the leading note of D and it’s important to note that C# is also the seventh degree of the D natural major scale:

Since a leading note is a half step below the first degree of the scale, you can determine the first degree of the scale by going up a half step.

If C#:

…is given as a leading note, its first degree can be determined by going up by a half step (to D):

The augmented triad has three tones and each of them can function as leading notes. For example when the C augmented triad:

…is played, C:

…is active, and so is E:

…and G#:

The activity of the augmented triad is derived from the leading note tendency of its tones and that makes the augmented triad a suitable passing chord.

## The Multi-Dimensional Resolution Of The Augmented Triad

The notes of the augmented triad have a leading note tendency. Consequently, each of them can resolve the triad to the nearest half step. Using the C augmented triad:

…as a reference…

The first tone of the C augmented triad (which is C):

…is the leading note of C#:

…or Db:

Therefore, it has the tendency to resolve the C augmented triad:

…either to a Db major:

…or to a C# minor triad:

The third tone of the C augmented triad (which is E):

…is the leading note of F:

Therefore, it has the tendency to resolve the C augmented triad:

…either to an F major:

…or to an F minor triad:

The fifth tone of the C augmented triad (which is G#):

…is the leading note of A:

Therefore, it has the tendency to resolve the C augmented triad:

…either to an A major:

…or to an A minor triad:

In a nutshell, one augmented triad can resolve either to a major or minor chord in three different ways, and if you do the math, that’s six different resolutions.

“Let’s Resolve One More Augmented Triad…”

### Resolution Of  The F Augmented Triad

The first tone of the F augmented triad (which is F):

…is the leading note of F#:

…or Gb:

Therefore, it has the tendency to resolve the F augmented triad:

…either to a Gb major:

…or to an F# minor triad:

The third tone of the F augmented triad (which is A):

…is the leading note of Bb:

Therefore, it has the tendency to resolve the F augmented triad:

…either to a Bb major:

…or to a Bb minor triad:

The fifth tone of the F augmented triad (which is C#):

…is the leading note of D:

Therefore, it has the tendency to resolve the F augmented triad:

…either to a D major:

…or to a D minor triad:

## Final Words

Congratulations on making it through the introductory lesson on the resolution of the augmented triad. We’ll continue our discussion in another lesson where you’ll be learning how this resolution can be applied to regular gospel songs.

Thank you for your time and see you in the next lesson.

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#### Chuku Onyemachi

Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group
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.