What Is An Augmented Chord? How To Use In Jazz Piano?

Hi all,

Here’s a brilliant question from one of our students on “Augment 7th Chords”

What is the function of the augmented 7th chord? And how to use it in a specific progression? I am so curious about it. Many tutorials on the Internet are confusing.

Here’s the answer:

The easiest way to create an augmented 7th chord is to take a major 7th chord, and then sharpen the 5th by half a step.

An augmented 7th chord is most often notated as Caug7, or C+M7

Here’s an illustration of Cmaj7 and Caug7

Notice that all that has changed, is the 5th has been sharpened. Even though just one note has moved by half a step, this completely changed the character, colour, and texture of the chord.

So How Do We Use This In Jazz Piano?

Well, if you have watched any of my intermediate/advanced jazz standard lessons, you will know that I love to add inner voices to my chords.

I created a dedicated lesson on this here:

In the chapter on “Major Chords”, I show how you can use this colour, or this flavour to add interest to your major chords.

The #5 is a dissonant tone, and to my ears, it always wants to resolve. I get a sense of rest, or peace, when I hear that #5 drop to the 6th a half step higher.

Now, it doesn’t always have to resolve, that is just my preferred way of using this colour, and you will see that I also incorporate the 7th in there, an internal moving voice which brushes over the #5 before resolving to the more consonant tones 6 & 7.

Later in the lesson mentioned above, I demonstrate using this device on the tune Misty… the examples are super easy to follow and do yourself… so check that out.

Here’s a nice example when I land on the #5 colour:

In the jazz standard lesson on “Easy To Love” check out how I use this sound at time 11:21 in the video:

This is for a 251 in C Major…

D-7 / G7 / Cmaj7

but instead I play

D-7 / G7 / Caug7

Here’s the voicing that I land on for the 1 chord:


Now this creates a completely different colour, an unexpected one, that i then resolve to the 6… as I usually do :smile:

Then notice what I do next in the video, I create an internal line again incorporating the 7th.

A beautiful sound and one to get familiar with.

So how would you go about practicing that?

Well, first of all, I would recommend that you imitate exactly what I play in for the 251 in C.

Then if you like it, you must take it around all 12 keys.

You will then be able to see that augmented 7th chord as a potential landing point for any major 251 you play.

I hope you enjoyed this mini analysis and feel free to continue the discussion below.

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Another important thing to understand…

C+7 means a dominant 7th chord with a sharp 5

Caug7 or C+M7 means a major 7th chord with a sharp 5

As if jazz wasn’t confusing enough… there is no definitive way that we all agree on how to notate chords.

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