Add tension to your compositions by using augmented chords in major keys

The Beatles perform live
(Image credit: CBS via Getty Images)

Last time, I introduced the augmented chord, which is a major triad with a raised, or 'sharped,' fifth - spelled 1, 3, #5 - and explained its theoretical origin, which is, it’s the third diatonic triad of both the harmonic minor and melodic minor scales. I also demonstrated how the augmented chord can be used to intensify a V-i resolution in a minor key.

I’d now like to offer additional examples of interesting ways in which composers and songwriters have put this painfully sweet chord to great use, including its application in a major key, which bends the rules of traditional harmony by borrowing an “outside” note from the parallel minor key.

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Jimmy Brown

Over the past 30 years, Jimmy Brown has built a reputation as one of the world's finest music educators, through his work as a transcriber and Senior Music Editor for Guitar World magazine and Lessons Editor for its sister publication, Guitar Player. In addition to these roles, Jimmy is also a busy working musician, performing regularly in the greater New York City area. Jimmy earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies and Performance and Music Management from William Paterson University in 1989. He is also an experienced private guitar teacher and an accomplished writer.