Spice Up Your Life And Your Chord Progressions With The AUGMENTED 6th Chord

Spice Up Your Life And Your Chord Progressions With The AUGMENTED 6th Chord

Tommaso Zillio

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Do you like music that sounds good?

    augmented sixth chords guitar
  • If you do, I want to share a chord with you that seems complicated but is actually easy to play and sounds fantastic.

  • If you don’t, you can promptly close this newsletter and go back to listening to your favorite Slayer records.

  • If you think the above question is just a transparent psychological trick because, honestly, who doesn't like music that sounds good... then accept my felicitations for your superior awareness, and be reassured that when I wrote this lesson I had exactly you in mind, so skip the rest of this email and go straight to the video below.

  • If you think that the above paragraph was sarcasm: shhh, you're right, but don't tell them.

  • If you think that I should cut this short and get to the point, then keep reading:

The chord in question is the augmented 6th chord.

... that's where most people would close their browser. Because "augmented 6th" sounds less like a great chord and more like some music theory nightmare...

... indeed, if you ever tried to read any music theory book on augmented 6th chord, you probably tore your hair out trying to understand the super-convolute, completely-nonsensical explanations they give.

(Why do you think I wear a hat in my videos? Augmented-6th-induced-baldness, that's why!)

To add insult to injury, there is not just one Augmented 6th chord. Just like with food, Italians, Germans, and the French, all have their own versions of augmented 6th chords. (*)

So what to do?

Well, you could do worse than watching my new video, linked below, which contains (in my humble opinion) the simplest explanation ever devised for the Augmented 6th chords. (**)

(*) And just like with food, the Italian one is better. Change my mind.

(**) If you find a simpler explanation that is as complete and exhaustive as the one I give, do write me!

Do you wish you knew everything about chords? That you could play any chord you wanted, at any spot on your fretboard, with no thinking whatsoever? Then check out my Complete Chord Mastery guitar course, so you can master chords and harmony on the guitar.

Video Transcription

Hello Internet, so nice to see you! What you just heard is a resolution using an augmented six chord, augmented sixth chord seems to be very hard for people to understand. And I think it's because they never given the story on how augmented chords came to be.

So today we're gonna see the easy way into augmented sixth chord, it makes so much sense when you see it the way I'm going to show it to you today. So just follow me and in a moment, you're going to understand how augmented sixth chord works, why they work, and you're going to be able to play them on your guitar, they are incredibly easy.

When you say this way, our story starts in the 18th century in the Baroque era, when those big wig Baroque musicians, we're making music in a completely different way than how we do it today, because chords were not invented yet. So they were actually thinking about intervals on top of basslines, and how to move voices in different ways.

Now, in the rest of this video, I'm going to use modern terminology. Otherwise, it will be too confusing for people who are not familiar with Baroque music theory. So you guys will forgive me for not being perfectly historically correct, but I am going to use terms like major chord minor chord, first inversion, etc. Okay.

Now one of the baselines that those Baroque musician wanted to harmonize was at the ascending baseline starting from the first note of the key and going down to the fifth note of the key. So in a minor that will be a G, F, E.

So the first note of the key in a minor than the seventh to the sixth, and the fifth.

On the first note, they will simply play an A minor chord, after all, it is the key of A minor.

And on the fifth note, the E, they will simply play either an E or an E seven.

And that chord will have the major third, the G sharp, because these notes help you come back a note.

But what about the other two chords, the one on G and the one on F? Well, the intuition of the Baroque musician was that you were playing what we call to the root position chord over note that you will make it solid and stable.

But if you wanted that chord to give some sense of movements, they will play what today we call a first inversion chord. So on these genomes, they will play what we will call today an E minor chord in first inversion, the notes being E, G, and B and the G at the bass.

And that will give some sense of movement.

Because you can tell that the chord progression doesn't end here, it wants it still wants to move.

So this first inversion chord will want to go somewhere. Now, of course, they wouldn't call this a first inversion chord, they will call it a chord of the six, because there will be an interval of a six between these G note and E.

Now, you will guess why they don't call these a chord of the six three, because there's an interval of a six Sure, but there's also an interval of a third between the G and the B note. Well, because in their mind that whenever there is a third or a fifth, it's just understood. And if you have a sixth, the sixth will cancel out the fifth. It's all very complex if you want to go into that, but trust me he's never called these are called of the six.

So they will have a root position chord on the A, A chord of the six which is just a first inversion chord on the G, another chord of the six on the F so in this case a D minor with a base of f and then they will play the E, back to the now what I just played sounded perfectly okay to your ear. Let me play it again.

But these very same sound will make a Baroque musician recall in a horror and disgust because it will contain the dread of the parallel fifth, which you guys can’t hear because you got used to it because I don't really sound that bad. But at the time, parallel 5ths were completely out of fashion simply because in the era.

For the Baroque era, everybody was using parallel fifth. So all those things sound hopelessly out totally out of fashion. And so just hearing the sound will make your music sound stale and crusty and old.

It's interesting how today playing Final fifths either doesn't give you any effect, or it just makes the music sound more modern, because for all the classical Baroque, romantic era, we avoided them specifically, because for them, it sounded old. But for us, now they sound more fresh and totally. Okay. So again, here's the audible sound, okay.

Perfectly acceptable to us, but not for them. So what will bark do, or for that matter, any Baroque musician? Well, there is a little loophole if you want in the parallel fifths rule, and that is that they did find perfect fifth objectionable.

But if the second fifth is not perfect, so it's a diminished fifth, then it will sound perfectly fine to their ears. So what will they do is that on the second chord on these D minor with a base of f, that they will simply call an F of the sixth chord, they will raise the D to A D sharp, and so in other words, have the notes F, D sharp, and a.

Which works perfectly because now these D sharp is really close to the E note in the next chord. And so it feels like resolving there.

So now the whole thing sounds these way, the A minor.

The E minor in first inversion.

This new chord.

The E major.

And the A minor again.

So you see, we had a chord of the6, F, D A M, we raised the 6th, F D sharp, A, these F to D was already a major sixth, then once we raise the D becomes an augmented sixth.

Hence the name of the chord, it could be enharmonic to a minor seventh. And indeed, you could think of this chord modernly as an F seven, two because you have the F at the bass, the A which is the third and this D sharp, which is enharmonic to an E flat, so that will be really close to an F seven.

And indeed, today, a jazz musician will tell you that this is a seven and this f seven is just a tritone substitution of B seven, which is the fifth of v, which is a way more complex way of seeing the exact same thing, because we are just simply raising in order to avoid a parallel fifth. Now so far, I played all those chords in three notes. And the version of the augmented sixth I found is what in jargon is called the Italian augmented sixth. But I could play everything in four voices. In this case, my starting progression will be a minor.

Again, E minor with a base of G.

On the F, I will actually play a D minor seven with a base of F.

And then the E major.

Not radical difference. And again, I still have the problem of the parallel fifth between the code on G and the code on F. So I'm raising my D to A D sharp, and this is what happens.

This version is called the German augmented sixth, it's just the Italian augmented sixth with an extra note which is the perfect fifth over the base. So really not that much more complex. But yeah, we like to give a lot of names to those things. So this is not the only possible version though, because I can do something even different than that. So again, as a starting for progression, I could play these A minor. Again, E minor over g.

And I could play the strange thing here.

Again, these sounds okay, to our ears, there's still a parallel 15 side. But what is this mystery chord here?

Well, the notes are F, B, B, A, and E it's a B minor seven flat five in second inversion with the F at the base a B minor seven flat five we'll have the notes B the F and A and here we just put the F at the base.

and that chord is the second chord in the key of A minor. So essentially this whole progression is ending with a two.

Five, one in A minor, which is kind of standard, it was a standard at the time. And it's kind of a standard even today. But again, we have the problem of the parallel fifth. So we raise the D to A D sharp and we obtain something even different.

That it's what we call up French augmented sixth, again, just a simple variation of the whole thing. So you see, the augmented sixth chord came to be simply as a dirty trick to avoid the sound of parallel fifths. And then people started liking them and using them more and more. And even today, we use them quite a lot.

They're maybe not as common as they were in the Baroque era, or in the classical era, but we still use them very commonly. And indeed, most of the time that we use them, we say that they are tritone substitution of something else.

Because at the end of the day, they're exactly the same note that you can think of them as another chord, where you raise the six, or you can think of them as being tritone, substitutions of other chords, everything works perfectly. At the end of the day, they are exactly the same thing. So here we go.

This is where I went to six chord come from, and that's probably the easiest way to see them because you build them thinking in the way the people who started using them were thinking, of course, this can still sound a little bit complex at the beginning.

So if you want to build up your chord knowledge, and really understand all harmony on the guitar, in an easy way, starting from the basics and going up and really understanding every single detail, and I do recommend you guys have a look at my course complete chord mastery, complete chord mastery. It's not a book. It's a complete video course that takes you from the basics up.

We do everything you need to know about harmony and chords on your guitar. All the theory is done straight on the fretboard. There is no theory for the sake of theory here. Everything is immediately practical. And everything is developed through exercises so you know how to apply these immediately on your guitar.

If you have just a minute click on the link on the top right to check out complete chord mastery. If you liked this video, smash that like button and don't forget to subscribe and click on notification otherwise YouTube will not let you know when I put up a new video. And if you have any comments, feedback, suggestions, write them down in the comment.

I enjoy reading from you and they make videos on your suggestions. This is Tommaso Zillio for MusicTheoryForGuitar.com, and until next time, enjoy.

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