Augment Your Knowledge: Sonic Shapes and Getting More From Augmented Chords

Hi everyone!

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I wanted to post a lesson that uses some of the material from my Positional Exploration book in a way that I didn’t get to cover in the text itself.

Back in November when Guitar-Muse posted the second part of my interview with Rob Balducci, Rob brought up a process he called chord morphing.  When I saw it in the video, I slapped my head forehead loudly as I realized that while I mentioned that any of the melodic exercises in the Positional Exploration book could be played as a chord, I didn’t include chord tablature.

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Anyway Rob had this cool idea of taking a 1-2-3-4 chromatic shape and playing it one note per fret on the bottom 4 strings which produces an Augmented chord like this:

Note:

Rob play this up on the 12-15th fret, but I’ve moved it to a low pitch of C for the purposes of explanation.

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He then goes on to lower each note of the chord chromatically one at a time until he ends up with an augmented chord a 1/2 step away from where he started.    I’ve detailed a sample of this below with analysis, when playing it the key to remember is keeping your fingers down and only moving finger playing the individual note that changes.

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Sonic Shapes

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So, I thought that was a cool way to:
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  1. warm up
  2. find some new voicings (1 shape yields 4 chords total) and
  3. see how different chord forms can be created by modifying existing voicings.

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(You can check out my recycling chords post, for a pretty in-depth exploration of this idea with triads!)

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And then I got to thinking about Sonic Shapes.  Back in the day, Howard Roberts used to write a column for Guitar Player magazine and he had a whole series of columns that centered around an idea of sonic shapes, which is moving a fingering to different string sets to create different sounds.  So here, I’ve taken the same 1-2-3-4 augmented shape and moved it to the 5th string:

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And finally moving it to the top four strings:

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Going Deeper

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Then, because I couldn’t leave well enough alone, I started thinking about augmented chords in general.  They’re neat little things because they’re intervallically symmetrical and any note in the chord can be the root.

You can also use them to visualize all of your 3-note major and minor inversions.

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Here’s the first trick using augmented chords that I copped from Pat Martino:

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If you sharp any note of an augmented chord you create a minor chord with the sharped note acting as the root

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In the following chords,  I’ve taken the original 4-note voicing I had (with doubled C) and sharped one note at a time which creates A minor, F minor and Db (or C#) minor.

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Following through on this process, we can find voicings for every minor chord inversion.  First I’ll go through the inversions of the 3-note augmented chord across each group of 3 strings:

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With the augmented inversions outlined, try converting each voicing to a minor chord:

  • Raising C a 1/2 step creates a C#/Db minor chord
  • Raising E a 1/2 step creates a F minor chord
  • Raising G# a 1/2 step creates a A minor chord

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Since augmented chords are symmetrical –  the fingerings for inversions repeat every Major 3rd (i.e. 5 frets higher).

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The next step is to move the entire pattern up 5 frets and repeat the process of converting the chords to minor.

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Going up another 5 frets gives up the final inversion.

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Once you get used to manipulating the augmented patterns to create all three minor chords, try taking one minor voicing (like A minor for example) and using the augmented visualization, try visualizing every inversion of A minor both across the fingerboard as well as on each string set.

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Augmented visualization tip #2:

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Here’s another cool trick from Mr. Martino:

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if you flat any note in an augmented triad, the flatted note becomes the 5th of a major chord.

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You can guess that the next step would be to apply this to all of the above inversions like you did with the minor.

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To Review:

C / E/ G# (Ab) augmented can be transformed into:

  • A minor
  • F minor
  • C#/Db minor
  • C major
  • Ab major
  • E major

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In a future post, I’ll talk about this as a melodic application, but in the meantime think about this:

If all of the above chords are related from C / E / G# augmented, then that augmented chord could be used as a bridge to cross bridge chords in very different key centers.

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For Example:

A minor – C augmented – F minor.

A minor – C augmented – Db minor.

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For those of you who have read my glass noodles post, you’ll see where this is going for a future lesson.

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Enjoy the new voicings and thanks for reading!

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SC

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PS – If you like this idea, you might find my Positional Exploration book, Harmonic Combinatorics Book, Chord Scale Book or Melodic Patterns book really helpful in generating new melodic ideas or approaches.

For posts here, you may also like:

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Chords/Triads/Superimposition/Arpeggios:

GETTING HIPNESS FROM A MAJOR TRIAD OR MORE CHORD RECYCLING PART 3

Getting Hipness From A Major Triad Or More Chord Recycling Part 2

GETTING HIPNESS FROM A MAJOR TRIAD OR MORE CHORD RECYCLING PART 1

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Getting Through The Gig – Negotiating A Chord Chart Part 3

Getting Through The Gig – Negotiating A Chord Chart Part 2

GETTING THROUGH THE GIG – NEGOTIATING A CHORD CHART PART 1

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RECYCLING CHORDS PART II: TRIAD TRANSFORMATION

RECYCLING CHORDS PART I OR WHERE’S THE ROOT?

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FAVORED CURRY OR SPICING UP CHORD SCALES AND TRIADS PART 2

FAVORED CURRY OR SPICING UP CHORD SCALES AND TRIADS PART 1

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RECYCLING SHAPES OR MODULAR ARPEGGIOS FOR FUN AND PROFIT

GLASS NOODLES – ADAPTING A PHILIP GLASS ARPEGGIO APPROACH TO GUITAR

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Books

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