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Thread: How to incorporate augmented and suspended chords in a progression?

  1. #1
    Registered User Revenant's Avatar
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    How to incorporate augmented and suspended chords in a progression?

    I've been working on building chords from scales lately, but it seems that the augmented and suspended chords can't be built from the major scale.
    I found an augmented chord in the harmonic minor scale when I was experimenting with that one, but suspended chords seems to be an exception to the rules as I cannot find it in any scale I've explored.
    Is this just a chord type that you need to use your ear to make it fit in?
    And if you want to throw in augmented chords in a major or minor key, is there any "tricks" on how to make it work?

    I hope I didn't ask to many questions
    The Young Apprentice

  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    There are lots of suspended chords available from the major scale.
    Here's all the possibilities in C major:

    Csus2 = C-D-G
    Csus4 = C-F-G
    Dsus2 = D-E-A
    Dsus4 = D-G-A
    Esus4 = E-A-B (sus2 not possible)
    Fsus2 = F-G-C (sus4 not possible)
    Gsus2 = G-A-D
    Gsus4 = G-C-D
    Asus2 = A-B-E
    Asus4 = A-D-E

    Enough for ya?
    The ii, iii, V and vi sus4s can also have 7ths added.

    The sus chords on the majors (I, IV, V) are often used in combination with the plain triads. Experiment and use your ear.


    Augmented chords are normally transition chords, esp in minor keys.

    Eg in A minor, a C+ (or Cmaj7#5) could go in between C and Am, or vice versa, or between C and F.
    (The 2nd chord in Stairway to Heaven is Cmaj7#5, between Am and C.)

    Aug triads can also be used with b7s, as V chords in minor or major keys. Stevie Wonder uses one (G7#5) in the intro to "You are the sunshine of my life" - and plays the wholetone scale over it, resolving to Cmaj7.

  3. #3
    Registered User Revenant's Avatar
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    Thank you!
    So it seems I have limited myself by only using the method of building chords from every other note of the major scale. That way, all I got was major and minor chords as well as the diminished chord at the seventh degree.
    Looking at the scale as a whole I can now see where you got the sus chords from

    Also, thank you for mentioning the dom7 augmented chord! I've been looking for chords to use the wholetone scale over. So in essence, the wholetone scale shouldn't clash with chords with major thirds and augmented fifths?

    I didn't know I could use wholetone over dominant seventh chords. I've usually implied mixolydian over them, but the whole tone scale also has a flat 7th compared to the major scale, so it works!
    The Young Apprentice

  4. #4
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    I for one love the sus2 chords, as a matter of fact, I use them to start songs too, which people had told me its unusual, but i love the sound of them, try this out for kicks,

    ----2----0---2
    ----2----0---0
    ----4----3---1
    ----4----4---2
    ----2----4---2
    ---------2---0

    Bsus2, F#11, E Major Add 9th

  5. #5
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    I have in my notes that a Sus2 or Sus4 makes a good fill as it wants to move to the Parent chord, i.e. ASus2 wants to move to A.

    Never have come up with when to use Sus2 and not Sus4. Or when to use one over the other --- except let your ear tell you.

    JonR --- is that also what you are saying about the Aug C+..... throw it in after a C?

    Or Sus before and Augmented after................
    Last edited by Malcolm; 07-26-2007 at 04:14 PM.

  6. #6
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    Hi, there are quit a few altered scales with both +5 and sus chords in them. The harmonic minor is one. Melodic minors, double harmonics, blues with added 7ths or 9ths. The D blues added 9th has that C, C#5, Am or F with a Csus4 - another has these but its a tonic C with a long indian name. If you are interested in building chords out of altered scales, why don't you just get software that will list them for you?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    There are lots of suspended chords available from the major scale.
    Here's all the possibilities in C major:

    Csus2 = C-D-G
    Csus4 = C-F-G
    Dsus2 = D-E-A
    Dsus4 = D-G-A
    Esus4 = E-A-B (sus2 not possible)
    Fsus2 = F-G-C (sus4 not possible)
    Gsus2 = G-A-D
    Gsus4 = G-C-D
    Asus2 = A-B-E
    Asus4 = A-D-E

    Enough for ya?
    The ii, iii, V and vi sus4s can also have 7ths added.

    The sus chords on the majors (I, IV, V) are often used in combination with the plain triads. Experiment and use your ear.
    Hey whatsup? How would you play an I-IV-V chord progression in the key of C using sus chords? Because I cant seem to get anything going with this.

  8. #8
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwest2419
    Hey whatsup? How would you play an I-IV-V chord progression in the key of C using sus chords? Because I cant seem to get anything going with this.
    Probably because the sounds of I, IV and V as sus4s or sus2s makes them sound very like each other.
    Csus4 = C-F-G = Fsus2!
    Gsus4 = G-C-D = Csus2!

    If you want to combine the sus sound with a I-IV-V sequence, use sus2s and sus4s in alternation with the triads - as variations of the basic chords.

    Eg:

    |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |
    |Fsus2 / F / |Fsus2 / F / |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |
    |Gsus4 / G / |Gsus2 / G / |Fsus2 / F / |Fsus2 / F / |
    |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |

    (Remember Fsus4 doesn't belong to key of C because it has a Bb.)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    Probably because the sounds of I, IV and V as sus4s or sus2s makes them sound very like each other.
    Csus4 = C-F-G = Fsus2!
    Gsus4 = G-C-D = Csus2!

    If you want to combine the sus sound with a I-IV-V sequence, use sus2s and sus4s in alternation with the triads - as variations of the basic chords.

    Eg:

    |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |
    |Fsus2 / F / |Fsus2 / F / |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |
    |Gsus4 / G / |Gsus2 / G / |Fsus2 / F / |Fsus2 / F / |
    |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |

    (Remember Fsus4 doesn't belong to key of C because it has a Bb.)
    Hey whatsup? JonR I was trying to see where their are suspended chords available from the major scale in the key of A. I had created the Major Scale to each an every note that was in the Key of A. Then I looked an determined that some of these sus chords had almost the same notes, but they were kind of arranged around a bit. By doing this method it helped me out a lot, knowing how chord substitutions work (as along as these chords that I was looking for or chords I ever wanted too spice things up a bit) the notes that were key of A had to be same.

    A Major Scale: A B C# D E F# G#

    Asus2 = A-B-E
    Asus4 = A-D-E
    Bsus2 = B-C#-F#
    Bsus4 = B-E-F#
    C#sus2 = C#-D#-G# (not possible because D# is not in the key of A)
    C#sus4 = C#-F#-G#
    Dsus2 = D-E-A (it's like you'll be playing an Asus4 chord could be an inversion)
    Dsus4 = D-G-A (cant use this chord because G is not in the key of A)
    Esus2 = E-F#-B (it's like you'll be playing an Bsus4 chord could be an inversion)
    Esus4 = E-A-B (E-A-B it has same notes has Asus2)
    F#sus2 = F#-G#-C# (F#-G#-C# has the same notes has C#sus4 it would be like playing the C#sus4 chord)
    F#sus4 = F#-B-C# (F#-B-C# it has same notes has Bsus2)

    So, which ones would be correct?
    Last edited by dwest2419; 09-21-2007 at 10:53 PM.

  10. #10
    Bedroom metalurgist LaughingSkull's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revenant
    I didn't know I could use wholetone over dominant seventh chords. I've usually implied mixolydian over them, but the whole tone scale also has a flat 7th compared to the major scale, so it works!
    WholeTone:
    1 M2 M3 #4 #5 m7

    the chords out of this scale are (for C): C+, C7#5, C9#5,
    if you treat #4 as b5 you get away with: C7b5 and C9b5

    dominat chords with 13 in are no go. so are those with perfect fifth (P5).
    Jon, correct me if I'm wrong.

  11. #11
    Bedroom metalurgist LaughingSkull's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dublshot
    Hi, there are quit a few altered scales with both +5 and sus chords in them. The harmonic minor is one. Melodic minors, double harmonics, blues with added 7ths or 9ths. The D blues added 9th has that C, C#5, Am or F with a Csus4 - another has these but its a tonic C with a long indian name. If you are interested in building chords out of altered scales, why don't you just get software that will list them for you?
    Because you learn nothing that way. And you end up having no clue how things are related. Doing everthyng myself means I am getting theory in my bones. And It shows in my playing and composing abilities. And It makes me happy. So I make other people happy, like Mrs Skull for instance. So she shows gratitude in a way she knows I like.
    So to conclude: building chords from scales without the use of software, that is, by yourself, can improve your intimate life , and as a side effect you learn a bit of theory . Win-Win situation.

    (Does humor belong in the Theory forums?)

  12. #12
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    I don't know if humor belongs but it sure enhances the forum
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  13. #13
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    I don't think this has been covered yet so I'll throw in my cent and a half. (i'm broke)

    The original intention of suspended chords, as I understand it from studying 16th century counterpoint, was that the suspended notes are held over from a previous chord and resolved at some point. While this might not be the case in modern music, I think it's important not to lose sight of the Why things work.

    So instead of using suspensions randomly, try for a moment, to carry over tones from the previous chord. One example is the oft used 9-8 suspension on a G-C progression:

    |--------
    |-3->-3-(1)
    |-0---0-
    |-0---2-
    |-2---3-
    |-3-----

    Or perhaps the most sonorous, the 4-3 suspension, in this case from a G to a D:

    |-3->-3-(2)
    |-0---3--
    |-0---2--
    |-0---0--
    |--------
    |--------

    Of course there are other combinations, a 6-5, a 2-1 (suspension using the bass) and probably others but again, laziness is getting the best of me here
    Last edited by jessmanca; 09-21-2007 at 01:04 PM.

  14. #14
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that theory exists to help us understand music - but that theory does not define the music per se. With regard to how to use different types of chords first look at the historical records (musical standards) to see how other have used them.

    For example a +7 chord built off the 5th of the key uses the scale degrees of 5, 7 & #2. My ear hears the 5 & 7 as part of the v7 dominant chord while I hear the #2 as the minor 3rd of the target. So a V+7 chord can be used to transition from a major to a minot tonality (as the II-7 of a II-7 V7) like this Cmaj7 G+7 Cmin7 . . . (F7 . . Bbmaj7)

    or it could be used the other way around in a minor tonality (via a chromatic line ascending) leading to a major target Dmin7b5 G+7 Cmaj7

    Alternatively an augmented chord can be used to support a descending chromatic line leading to the IV chord as in C G+7 Gmin7 C7 Fmaj7 (Cherokee by RNoble). This is really just an example of the first application above

    Often I see +7 chord notated where my ear hears a dom7b13. In terms of guitar voicings this can be a bit of a "distinction without a difference" but regardless I always explore the distinction to see which chord provides the better fit.

    In most cases voicing-leading is the point of the augmented chord, the theory behind it's diatonic origins aren't particularly valuable in most cases.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    Probably because the sounds of I, IV and V as sus4s or sus2s makes them sound very like each other.
    Csus4 = C-F-G = Fsus2!
    Gsus4 = G-C-D = Csus2!

    If you want to combine the sus sound with a I-IV-V sequence, use sus2s and sus4s in alternation with the triads - as variations of the basic chords.

    Eg:

    |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |
    |Fsus2 / F / |Fsus2 / F / |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |
    |Gsus4 / G / |Gsus2 / G / |Fsus2 / F / |Fsus2 / F / |
    |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |Csus4 / C / |Csus2 / C / |

    (Remember Fsus4 doesn't belong to key of C because it has a Bb.)
    Hey whatsup? JonR I kind of rearranged some things concerning the chord progressions.

    Eg:

    |Fsus2 / C / |Gsus4 / C / |Fsus2 / C / |Gsus4 / C / |
    |Csus4 / F / |Csus4 / F / |Gsus4 / C / |Gsus4 / C / |
    |Csus2 / G / |Gsus2 / G / |Csus4 / F / |Csus4 / F / |
    |Fsus2 / C / |Gsus4 / C / |Fsus2 / C / |Gsus4 / C / |

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