I’ve been in an augmented scale mood lately, so here’s another exploration into the harmonic and melodic possibilities of this very distinctive sounding scale. In this etude I’ve organized the scale into a darkly beautiful melodic pattern composed primarily of 4ths and 5ths that also imply two symmetrically related 7th chords. Take a look at the example below:
The first four notes make a simple perfect 5ths and 4ths pattern, vaguely implying a “C” tonality. The next three notes (two eighth notes followed by a quarter note) imply an E chord (major or minor) with a major 7th (the Eb enharmonically functioning as D#). The next measure is simply the first measure transposed down a major 3rd. So its first four notes vaguely imply an Ab tonality (the G# functioning enharmonically as Ab), and the last three notes imply a C chord with a major 7. Because the pattern has both G# and G natural, as well as Eb and E natural, an audible “illusion” of the major or minor chord with a major 7th (for both the “E” and “C” chords) emerges.
The last two measures are simply the augmented scale in root position from which the original melodic pattern was created. I have the scale following the melodic pattern in order to help you not only to hear it, but also to help you understand its organization. So in the example above, the C augmented scale is formed by combining a C augmented chord (C, E, G#) with an Eb augmented chord (Eb, G natural, B). You’ll notice that the accidentals I’ve chosen to use in the first two measures reflect the same accidentals of the scale as it is organized the way I’ve described above. Though this might make the pattern in some keys a bit tricky to read for the first time (lot of sharps and flats mixed together in a single measure), it will ultimately help you to more easily recognize and understand how the pattern is related to the scale from which it is formed. If you play around with this melodic pattern a bit, you’ll find lots of uses for it over dominant 7th chords and ii-v7-I chord progression. If you’d like to explore further with the augmented scale (especially how it can be applied over dominant chords and ii-V7 cycles), please consider my e-book, Augmented Scale Diatonic Triad Pairs. Click the link below for a free, downloadable pdf of this pattern in all 12 keys.