Chords from Superaugmented


The scale I call Superaugmented is a major scale with every note sharpened that can be sharpened. It's like a major scale shifted up a semitone and then slightly adjusted. It seems to come up a log on this blog whenever I do some of those "all the possible ways to do X with Y" posts so I though it might be worth pulling some chords out of it.

We'll use A Superaugmented, which is A B# C## D# E# F## G# (i.e. the scale is spelled 1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 7). Here are four full-fretboard diagrams of those notes with different colour-coding to suggest some chordal shapes to explore:

I don't advise trying to play them as six-note chords; just pick a 3- or 4-string set and see what sounds you can find.

They mostly have kind of a jazzy sound, which is partly deliberate (it's what you get when you stack thirds and fourths like this) and partly just a symptom of the way the scale sounds. You certainly don't have to play them in a jazzy way. If you do want to think of them that way, my feeling is that A Superaugmented isn't a million miles away from A Harmonic Minor:

A Superaugmented A C D Eb F G G#
A Harmonic Minor A B C D E F G#

so you could try it in places where A Harmonic Minor modes usually go, such as on an E7 altered (in which case you're playing a hypermode of Superaugmented, which ought to impress your friends when you explain it at the bar afterwards). But results will vary depending on the exact situation, so approach with caution.

Because these days I'm mostly playing in a 12-tone, atonal context, here are the other five notes (i.e. the coscale) laid out in a similar way and designed to complement the ones above, with colour coding again hinting at some chordal ideas:

However, this might be my last look at a 7-note scale for a while. I've got a fair amount of language like this now and it does always feel a bit too closely tied to tonal traditions I'm trying to ease myself away from a bit. They naturally harmonize out into thirds or fourths, often yielding sounds that still carry too much tonal baggage with them.

In the summer I'd like to have a serious, sustained engagement with Hanson's Harmonic Materials of Modern Music, with an emphasis on practicalities for the improvisor. But I don't have time for that at the moment, so I may just futz around with some small, unsystematic ideas and see if anything interesting pops up.