Piano & Keyboard All-in-One For Dummies
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In addition to major and minor chords, piano and keyboard players should be familiar with augmented and diminished chords. Major and minor chords differ from each other only in the third interval. The top note, the fifth interval, is the same for both types of chords. So, by altering the fifth interval of a major or minor chord, you can create two new chord types, both triads.

An augmented chord contains a root note, a major third (M3) interval, and an augmented fifth (aug5), which is a perfect fifth (P5) raised one half step. Think of an augmented chord as simply a major chord with the top note raised one half step.

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When writing the chord symbol, the suffixes for augmented chords include +, aug, and ♯5. One advantage of ♯5 is that it actually tells you what to do to change the chord — you sharp the fifth.

A diminished chord contains a root note, a minor third (m3) interval, and a diminished fifth (dim5), which is a perfect fifth (P5) interval lowered one half step.

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Note the suffix used to signal a diminished chord in the chord symbol: dim. You may also see the suffix dim in the chord symbol, as in Fdim.

You may find it easiest to use fingers 1, 2, and 4 for augmented and diminished chords played with the right hand. For the left, try 5, 3, and 2.

Here’s an example of how you may encounter diminished and augmented chords in a song. The melody is the last phrase of Stephen Foster’s “Old Folks at Home.” Take these new chords for a spin and see how they subtly affect a song’s harmony.

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About This Article

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About the book authors:

Michael Pilhofer, MM, holds a Master's in Music Education with a Jazz Emphasis from the Eastman School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Miami.

Holly Day's work has appeared in Guitar One Magazine, Music Alive!, culturefront Magazine, and Brutarian Magazine.

Jerry Kovarsky is a regular columnist for Keyboard magazine and longtime product management guru with Casio, Korg, and other companies who have been instrumental in bringing keyboard technology into people's homes and onto stages and studios around the world.

Holly Day and Michael Pilhofer are co-authors of all editions of Music Theory For Dummies and Music Composition For Dummies. Blake Neely was a contributing author to the 2nd edition of Piano For Dummies. David Pearl is author of Piano Exercises For Dummies. Jerry Kovarksy is a contributing writer to Electronic Musician magazine. David Pearl is the author of The Art of Steely Dan and Color Your Chords. His other books include Burt Bacharach Piano Solos, jazz transcriptions of artists such as Grover Washington, Jr. and Dave Douglas, and arrangements of jazz tunes, classical pieces, and opera arias for piano. He has taught piano and performed jazz and classical music professionally for more than 30 years.

Michael Pilhofer, MM, holds a Master's in Music Education with a Jazz Emphasis from the Eastman School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Miami.

Holly Day's work has appeared in Guitar One Magazine, Music Alive!, culturefront Magazine, and Brutarian Magazine.

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