Augmented and Diminished Chords

Description of triadsImage via Wikipedia
Augmented and Diminished Chords

These chords are more ornamental than fundamental, yet they are widely used in many kinds of music. We have already seen the augmented chord used as a variation of a seventh chord. Augmented chords almost always can take a dominant seventh (b7) with good results. When substituting augmented chords for sevenths, take care that the melody note is not the natural 5 of  the chord as it will clash severely with the raised 5 of the augmented chord. Augmented chords are found often in music of the 30's and 40's and in contemporary gospel piano.

Diminished chords are often used as passing chords. They can serve as a bridge, for instance, between two chords whose roots are a whole tone away. If a song has a C to Dm change, try sneaking in a C#dim chord between. It may or may not work. If it does, you have a nice little chromatic progression:
C, C#dim, Dm. Another possibility is putting an F#dim between F and G7, yielding F F#dim, G7.


One interesting anomaly. A diminished seventh chord does not contain a seventh as we know it. A Cdim7, for example, is a Cdim triad with the addition of the 6th or A (CEbGbA). If your music calls for a plain diminished triad, it will almost invariably sound better if you play the diminished seventh instead.

Caug (C+) = CEG#


Caug7 (C+7) = CEG#Bb


Cdim (Co7 = CEbGbA


Cm7b5 (Cm7b5) = CEbGbBb


Augmented and Diminished Chords


Augmented = 1 3 #5   ((C  E  G#)


Augmented 7th = 1 3 #5 b7  (C  E  G#  Bb)

Diminished = 1 b3 b5  (C  Eb  Gb)


Diminished 7th = 1 b3 b5 6  (C  Eb  Gb  A)


Half Diminished = 1 b3 b5 b7  (C  Eb  Gb  Bb)


Half Diminished is also referred to as a minor seven flat five, e.g. Cm7b5 or Cm7-5. This is often used in jazz as an alternative to a plain minor chord.


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