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Thread: use of augmented and diminshed chords

  1. #1
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    use of augmented and diminshed chords

    hi guys, this is my first post. hope i write it clearly enough

    say im in the scale of C maj, what are the rules for using diminished and augmented chords, since the they have notes that arent part of the C maj scale?

    Can I use them as passing chords and/or to create tension?


    Thanks, Viktor

  2. #2
    MMus, MA, PGCE JumpingJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by northhills View Post
    say im in the scale of C maj, what are the rules for using diminished and augmented chords, since the they have notes that arent part of the C maj scale?
    Which particular diminished/augmented chords are you talking about?

    There is in fact a diminished chord in every major key; it is chord vii, that is, a chord constructed from the seventh note.
    So in C major, start on B and add a D and an F, and you have a B diminished triad.

    Some people like to think of this as a dominant seventh (G-B-D-F) without the root, and this is often how it works in practice - as a substitution for chord V, resolving to the tonic (or occasionally to chord vi).

    In general, diminished intervals resolve inwards (whereas augmented intervals resolve outwards). So with your B-D-F for example, B to F is a diminished fifth, this is the significant ("dissonant") interval and the best "textbook" resolution would be to have it resolving inwards to a C and an E respectively, although this doesn't always happen in practice.

    Because of this diminished interval, the chord is not generally used in root position. Instead, the third (D in this case) is placed on the bottom to create a first inversion chord (and in four parts, it is the third that is generally doubled for preference).

    Augmented chords are much less common in "classical" music. In theory, the augmented fifth would need to be prepared (like a suspension), and it would resolve by step. But if you're dealing with "classical" music, the best advice would be to avoid augmented chords entirely. If you're just doing your own thing though, you can do whatever you like with them (following the mentality of "if it sounds good, it is good").

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