Augmented Jazz Reality: Augmented Triad Licks

Augmented Jazz Reality: Augmented Triad Licks

More Parallel II-V-I Lines

Welcome back to our new series, "Hands-On Jazz Guitar." Today's lesson is called "Augmented Jazz Reality" as we will be discussing using augmented triad licks to get some fresh, hip sounds in your improvisation.

Download your "Hands-On 5: Augmented Jazz Reality" PDF here.

We’re going to put some nice jazz guitar lines under your fingers without being overly analytical or too intellectual in our approach. You’ll see it’s not a big step to get creative with your playing, and you’ll have loads of fun!

Today’s line comes from our “Tune of the Month Club” from May 2016. The song was “Yesterdays," and I found this nice little lick for us to explore. The line probes the use of the augmented triad, giving us some pleasant options!

augmented jazz licks - featured image

The Lick

augmented triad licks - original lick

How It Works

Here’s some info regarding the theory involved. To start, we have an inversion of the Cm7 arpeggio. Then, here's where we begin to explore. We connect to a chromatic note that neighbours the final note of our Cm7 arpeggio.

From there, descend playing an augmented triad. The augmented triad, in this context, has a very interesting sound to offer. 

*An augmented triad is simply a major triad with a raised 5th (1, 3, #5). In the case of the F triad here, instead of F A C, it will be F A C#.

Here’s where we get creative. By turning the structure of our line inside out and upside down, we are able to create more colourful ideas! You can do it too — I’ll show you examples of how you can work on this.

Example A

Here I take the opposite approach to the augmented triad. Previously, I "climbed up” into the triad in the original example, here I choose to "climb down."


augmented triad licks - example a

Example B

Now, I change the direction of all the parts. What used to "climb up" now "climbs down.” I do this for both, the Cm7, and the augmented triads. The result is something really different, but the process shows we’re not too far away form the original line.

augmented triad licks - example b

Example C

This time I use a little bit of both, example A, and example B. The Cm7 arpeggio comes from example A, and the augmented triad comes from Example B.

augmented triad licks - example c

You Try It!

Now it’s your turn. I call this part “winging it”. It’s time to just play! Forget what we just learned, and jump into some improvising. 

Download your "Hands-On 5: Augmented Jazz Reality" PDF here.

Remember, if you’re having trouble understanding any of the terminology in this course, do not worry.  Everything you need to know about these concepts can be found in our course, Improv 101.

Improv 101

How Licks Can Keep You Out of Trouble - Check out our blog post on how licks can get you out of a tight spot!