The Augmented Chord

The augmented chord is a three-note chord that consists of a root note, a major third interval, and an augmented fifth interval. It is often represented as “aug” or with the “+” symbol. For example, a C augmented chord is written as Caug or C+.

The function of the augmented chord can vary depending on the musical context. However, its most common function is as an augmented dominant chord, also known as a “tritone substitution.” In this role, the augmented chord acts as a substitute for the dominant chord, creating tension and leading to the resolution of a target chord. For instance, an augmented chord built on the raised fifth of a key can resolve to the tonic chord, providing a unique and colorful resolution.

The uniqueness of the augmented chord lies in its augmented fifth interval. Unlike major and minor chords, which have a perfect fifth interval, the augmented chord has a larger, augmented fifth. This augmented fifth creates a distinct and heightened sense of tension and dissonance. The dissonance of the augmented chord can evoke a sense of urgency or unease, adding a vibrant and captivating quality to compositions.

Additionally, the augmented chord is symmetrically structured. Each interval in the chord is a major third apart, resulting in a repeating pattern every four frets on the guitar or every four keys on the piano. This symmetry allows for transposition of the chord to any of the other 11 possible root notes while maintaining its augmented quality. It offers flexibility in harmonic possibilities and can be used to add unique and unexpected harmonic progressions or color tones to musical compositions.

In summary, the augmented chord functions primarily as an augmented dominant chord, creating tension and leading to resolution. Its uniqueness lies in its augmented fifth interval, which adds dissonance and a heightened sense of tension. The chord’s symmetrical structure allows for transposition and opens up possibilities for innovative harmonic choices. The augmented chord is a valuable tool for composers and musicians seeking to add complexity and intrigue to their music.

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