Augmented Triads

Start with augmented 5ths.

Add a 3rd in the middle.

Make sure the middle note is exactly in the middle.

Start with LH only.

Play them by 1/2 steps, whole steps and by major 3rds.

I am presenting augmented chords as triads that are formed by playing a major chord, then raising the top key one half-step. I have picked spellings that I find most easy to read.
However, augmented chords split an octave into three equal parts. Because of our notational system, it is very hard to see this without playing them and counting the number of keys that are skipped between the three keys that are pressed and form the chords. I have added color to show the augmented chords at the end of each measure of each line are really all using the same keys.
F aug = F A C#, A aug = A C# E#, Db aug = Db F A. They all look different because of spelling, but by spelling them enharmonically, we can see that they are really the same.
To illustrate:
  1. A aug could be written enharmonically as A C# F.
  2. Db aug could be written enharmonically as C# F A.
Fine points, for those of you who are more advanced: We say that F aug, A aug and Db aug are “enharmonically equivalent”. In other words, they look different, but they sound the same.
I hesitate to call augmented chords “triads”, since they so often do not appear as three lines or three spaces in a row. Their spelling is actually determined by what chords preceed them and follow them.

One thought on “Augmented Triads

  1. Thank you for explaining this so clearly. I especially love the way you have traced the chords of the same color: (example GBbD, BbDG, DGBb in blue). Somebody once told me “There are really only 4 augmented chords” and in this diagram I can see it. The three notes of an aug chord give us three different chords depending on which sits at the bottom. Way cool!

Leave a Reply