We’ve learned about major, minor and diminished triads in previous lessons. In this lesson, I’ll complete triads and chords by learning augmented triads. We’ll jump into the interval structure that creates the augmented triad and map them onto the guitar’s fretboard.
What is an Augmented Triad
Like all triads, an augmented triad contains three notes. It’s built by stacking two major intervals of a third.
|Quality||Stacked 3rd Intervals||Semitones||5th Quality|
|Augmented||Major 3rd + Major 3rd||8||Augmented|
Essentially, it’s a major triad with a raised 5th.
Augmented Triads on the Guitar Fretboard
On any string grouping, you can play these augmented triad shapes. The root position and first inversion are the same shape on all of them. What this means is that there are only four distinct shapes to go across all the string groupings.
Augmented Triad Shapes on Strings 1-2-3
On strings 1th, 2th, and 3th, you find these note arrangements:
- Shape 1: 3rd on string 3, 5th on string 2, root on string 1 (1st inversion)
- Shape 2: 5th on string 3, root on string 2, 3rd on string 1 (2nd inversion)
- Shape 3: root on string 3, 3rd on string 2, 5th on string 1 (root position)
Triads will occur over the entire length of the fretboard.
Augmented Triad Shapes on Strings 2-3-4
On strings 2th, 3th, and 4th, you’ll find the following note arrangements:
- Shape 1: root on string 4, 3rd on string 3, 5th on string 2 (root position)
- Shape 2: 3rd on string 4, 5th on string 3, root on string 2 (first inversion)
- Shape 3: 5th on string 4, root on string 3, 3rd on string 2 (second inversion)
Augmented Triads on Strings 3-4-5
On string 3th, 4th, and 5th you get the following note arrangements:
- Shape 1: 5th on string 5, root on string 4, 3rd on string 3 (2nd inversion)
- Shape 2: root on string 5, 3rd on string 4, 5th on string 3 (root position)
- Shape 3: 3rd on string 5, 5th on string 4, root on string 3 (1st inversion)
Augmented Triads on Strings 4-5-6
On 4th, 5th, and 6th strings you get the following notes:
- Shape 1: 3rd on string 6, 5th on string 5, root on string 4 (1st inversion)
- Shape 2: 5th on string 6, root on string 5, 3rd on string 4 (2nd inversion)
- Shape 3: root on string 6, 3rd on string 5, 5th on string 4
Example Use of the Augmented Triad
The main riff is a back and forth between the I chord, D major, and the augmented I chord, D+.
Then the D augmented chord is used to build tension in the transition to the Em7 chord.
If you notice in this progression, the 5th ascends chromatically from the perfect 5th (D major chord), augmented 5th (D+ chord), major 6th (D6 chord), minor 7th (D7 chord). This releases nicely into an Em7 chord, which you can hear in the audio sample.
In this lesson we learned about augmented triads. So because of the symmetry of stacked major 3rds, each string grouping produces only one unique shape. This makes it a little more challenging to identify root and inversions. You can’t rely on the chord shape since there is no clear relation between intervals. If you’re not familiar with chord relationships, try starting with triads first.
While augmented triads may not be as commonly used as major or minor chords, they can still be useful for adding some color and tension to a chord progression.
FAQ for Augmented Triads on Guitar
What is a chord progression?
A chord progression is the sequence of chords that make up a song. These chords are played in a particular order to create a desired mood or tone.
The chord progression is the backbone of any song. It can be used to create tension, release, and suspense. The chords in the sequence can also set the mood for happy, sad, or romantic music.
What are the 7 types of chords?
Chords are the building blocks of music, and there are 7 types of chords.
The 7 types of chords are major, minor, diminished, augmented, suspended 2nds, suspended 4ths, and diminished 7ths.
How do augmented triads differ from major and minor triads?
Augmented triads are a type of triad that is made up of three notes with an augmented fifth (the middle note) and a minor third (the top note).
An augmented fifth is a musical interval that’s larger than a perfect fifth. A perfect fifth is the musical interval found between two notes that are seven semitones apart.
A minor third is the musical interval found between two notes that are four semitones apart.
The augmented triad can be thought of as the dominant chord in jazz music. It also has many uses in pop and rock music as well as occasionally appearing in classical music compositions.
What are the benefits of using augmented triads on guitar?
The augmented triad is a three-note chord consisting of the root, a major third and an augmented fifth. The augmented triad is considered to be less dissonant than other chords containing an augmented fifth such as the diminished seventh or the French sixth.
The benefits of using augmented chord are that it is easy to play and you can use it in any key. It also sounds good with many different types of scales and it doesn’t have any bad sounding intervals in it.
When should augmented triads be used?
Augmented triads are chords that contain three notes of the major scale. They are often used in jazz, blues and rock music.
Augmented triads are usually used to add color and contrast to a chord progression. They can also be used as a way to lead into another chord or section of the song.
How can you play an augmented chord on guitar?
An augmented chord is a chord that is composed of a root note, major third, and augmented fifth. The augmented fifth interval is what distinguishes the chord from a regular major chord.
The most common way to play an augmented chord on guitar is to place your index finger on the 3rd string at the 2nd fret. Then place your middle finger on the 4th string at the 2nd fret. Finally, place your ring finger on the 1st string at the 3rd fret.