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Tip: THE "5"

In a previous post we tinkered with a chord’s 9. This time we take a look at a major chord’s 5.

Five, Nine? What are these? Quick refresher. Let’s see the notes of a chord and the numbers we refer to them with:

C, E, G
One, Three, Five

Take a look at the bigger picture: ONE of the scales that includes the C major chord:

C D E F G A B C D

If you count to the D, you’ll see it is nine. But back to the fifth of the chord. Here’s what happens when you increase the fifth of a C major chord by one half step, or one fret:

---
-1-
-1-
-2-
-3-
---

That’s a C Major Augmented or a C+5. What can you do with such a creature? How about put it in place of a regular C major chord:

|-1-1--|--------|
|-3-0--|-1-1----|
|-2-0--|-1-0----|
|-0-3--|-2-2----|
|------|-3-3----|
|------|--------|

You won’t find a C+5 in any major scale — that’s one of the reasons it might sound kind of surprising to you. You will find it in these two minor scales: harmonic and melodic minor. And because it shares two notes with the minor chord whose root is a third below the root of the plus 5 chord, you can experiment with substituting the plus 5 for that minor chord. Here’s an example:

|-----|------|
|-6-6-|-5----|
|-7-7-|-5----|
|-7-6-|-6----|
|---7-|-3----|
|-7---|------|

Have fun exploring the Major Augmented chord. Thanks for reading.

Copyright © 2008 Darrin Koltow

This first appeared in the Guitar Noise News – September 1, 2006 newsletter. Reprinted with permission.

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