Add suspense to your chord progressions with these augmented shapes

Man playing electric guitar in moody setting
(Image credit: Getty Images)

An augmented chord is what we call a major chord with a raised (or sharp) 5th. You’ll hear it whenever the composer wants to set up a state of suspense, whether at the beginning of a song, as part of a chord progression, or in film scores to add a sense of foreboding at key moments. 

As with many other aspects of music theory, there are actually a couple of different names that can be correctly used. I’ve already mentioned ‘sharp 5’, often notated as +5 in jazz chord charts, in the same school of shorthand as a minus sign being used for minor and a small circle for diminished. Check out a copy of the jazz ‘bible’ The Real Book to see these symbols in use. 

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Richard Barrett

As well as a longtime contributor to Guitarist and Guitar Techniques, Richard is Tony Hadley’s longstanding guitarist, and has worked with everyone from Roger Daltrey to Ronan Keating.