How to Play Augmented Chords on the Piano

Augmented Chords

Let’s look at how to play augmented chords on the piano. Once we know the pattern for building an augmented chord, we can apply that pattern starting on any note, to build augmented chords.

How to Play an Augmented Chord

To play an augmented chord, build a major chord, and then raise the upper-note 1/2 step.

Learn Piano Chords printable pdf chart

Learn Piano Chords Printable

Get started learning piano chords with this 36-page PDF. These charts will lay a great foundation for you at the piano, and will be referenced again and again!

C Augmented Chord

Let’s build a C augmented chord. We’ll start by building a C major chord. Major chords are built using the first, third and fifth notes of the matching major scale (learn how to build a major scale here). So to build a C major chord we’ll play the first, third and fifth notes of a C major scale: C – E – G.

Then we’ll raise the fifth note G by 1/2 step, to G♯.

So to play a C augmented chord, we’d play:

C – E – G♯

caug chord piano

You may be wondering, “How do I know if I should label the G♯ as a G♯, or as an A♭? Great question! It comes down to the intervals used to build the chord (learn about piano intervals here).

But the short answer is that augmented chords are built using a root, a major third, and an augmented fifth. since “G” is a fifth up from “C” alphabetically, we need to call this some type of “G”. So we’ll call it “G♯”.

G Augmented Chord

Now let’s build a G augmented chord. We’ll start by building a G major chord, using the first, third and fifth notes of the G major scale: G – B – D.

Then we’ll raise the fifth note D by 1/2 step, to D♯.

So a G augmented chord is:

G – B – D

gaug chord piano

Conclusion

Now you know how to build any augmented chord. Start with a major chord and raise the upper-note by 1/2 step.

Learning patterns on the piano is so much better than memorizing individual notes for chords, because patterns can be applied again and again!

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15 Comments

  1. Juli Holgerson

    Thank you. I find these articles very helpful.

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      You’re welcome, I’m glad to hear that!

  2. Mel

    Thanks again, Julie
    😊 Mel

    Reply
  3. Brent

    Thank you so much for all the informative content; I really appreciate it. I’ve heard all these chord names for years, even played some of them on the guitar, without really knowing what things like “major seventh” or “sus4” meant. Now, after 15 minutes of reading and a bit of trying things out on the piano, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on how to build all of the basic chords. Wishing you many blessings!

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      I’m so glad to hear that, thank you so much!

  4. Junaid

    I really like posts recieved about Piano cords and scales, Mam Julie has made it easy to understand for a beginner like me, i m gratefull for her teaching in a student friendly manner

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      Thank you so much, I appreciate hearing that!

  5. Davene maxwell Price

    thank you very helpful. i do use 2sus frequently. love the sound. i play mostly hymns and gospel
    music but trying to learn to chord

    Reply
  6. Davene maxwell Price

    thank you again for your east to understand explanations. I understand the concept but have difficulty where to use them in my improvision of gospel music.

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      You’re welcome! I only use augmented chords when they’re called for, since they don’t really work well as chord substitutions. Some chord substitutions that do work well for major and minor chords when improvising are: 2, sus2, sus4, and 5 chords. (You can also play these substitutions as inversions, which provides a lot of extra room for creativity.) I hope that helps!

  7. Dave Miller

    Well explained and detailed. Clear. Concise. Helpful. The world will be filled with more music because you are teaching aspiring pianists how to produce it! Wonderful.

    Reply
    • Julie

      Thank you so much for the encouraging words!

    • B SHAKUNTALA BALIGA

      Hullo Julie! I enjoy reading your weekly “lessons”. They are simple, clear and easy to understand. I’ve learnt a lot from your lessons.

      The circle of fifths was extremely useful, and so too the lesson on intervals.

      Thank you very much.

    • Julie Swihart

      That’s wonderful, I’m so glad to hear that!

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