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Thread: Augmented and diminished

  1. #1
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    Augmented and diminished

    If I augment or diminish an interval, aren't I actually changing from my original scale to a new scale? Aren't I tonicizing or modulating whenever I use a spelling that includes notes not in my original scale?

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Check this out.
    http://www.smithfowler.org/music/Chord_Formulas.htm
    Augmenting or diminishing normally speaks to what happens to the 5th of a chord.
    Augmenting a chord is sharping or raising the 5 interval of that chord.
    Diminishing a chord is flatting or lowering the 5th interval of that chord.
    Yes the chord spelling has been changed and to identify what has been done to the chord it now takes on the name Augmented or Diminished.

    Now take this to a scale.
    Major scale = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
    If you change any of those notes you change the scale to something else, as you change the structure of that scale, i.e. the WWHWWWH has been changed. For example if you flat the 3, 6 and 7 you changed that scale from a major scale to the natural minor scale which has a structure of WHWWHWW. What I'm trying to say we did not diminish or augment the scale we changed it's structure, thus changed it's name entirely.

    If you took the major scale and sharped the 4th interval you changed it to the Lydian mode of the major scale. Which has changed it's structure to WWWHWWH and that structure is now refered to as the Lydian mode of "X". The word augmented would not be used to explain what was done. Of course IMHO

    I don't think of it being augmenting or diminishing when speaking of scales. Perhaps it is, I just do not relate to it that way or use those words along with scales.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 03-13-2011 at 11:02 PM.

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    I think this is where I'm getting hung up. You said, "If you change any of those notes you change the scale to something else." So, why use terms like augmented or diminished? If adding a semi-tone makes the interval that used to be minor in the original scale, now makes the interval major (like in another scale), why call it augmented?

    For example, if I raise the 7th degree of the minor scale, the new interval becomes major (as in a harmonic minor scale). So why not say I'm majoring the interval instead of augmenting it?

  4. #4
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    If I augment or diminish an interval, aren't I actually changing from my original scale to a new scale? Aren't I tonicizing or modulating whenever I use a spelling that includes notes not in my original scale?
    Yes, but typically only temporarily and not long enough to count as a full-blown modulation. Using "borrowed" chords typically imply a modulation to the minor key of the same root. Using secondary dominants typically implies a modulation to the key of the target chord (down a 5th from the secondary dominant). But because both of these are so short-lived they are not heard as modulations but just as temporary modifications of the current key.

    These are good questions though. Hard to answer in a forum but really good questions.

    cheers,

  5. #5
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    I think this is where I'm getting hung up. You said, "If you change any of those notes you change the scale to something else." So, why use terms like augmented or diminished? If adding a semi-tone makes the interval that used to be minor in the original scale, now makes the interval major (like in another scale), why call it augmented?

    For example, if I raise the 7th degree of the minor scale, the new interval becomes major (as in a harmonic minor scale). So why not say I'm majoring the interval instead of augmenting it?
    Time to get into specific examples.

  6. #6
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    You asked; ".....For example, if I raise the 7th degree of the minor scale, the new interval becomes major (as in a harmonic minor scale). So why not say I'm majoring the interval instead of augmenting it?"

    Well you can if you wish, however, that would be misleading as the scale is still a minor scale. And even if you did augment the b7 the scale was not augmented as the 5th has not been sharped. When we sharp the b7 to a 7 we changed it's name and now call it the Harmonic minor scale as you point out. Scales have names. Chords have functions; tonic, mediant, sub dominant, dominant etc. And when you augment the chords' fifth we refer to it as an augmented chord.

    Point you are missing is scales have names, chord names refer to their function. Dominant seven has a b7 chord, minor chord has a b3, augmented chord has a #5. When speaking English you can use any combination of words you want, however, where grammar enters the picture - we speak in acceptable ways with acceptable words. People understand us better this way. Same thing here.

    C Harmonic Minor
    intervals: 1,2,b3,4,5,b6,7
    half-steps: 2-1-2-2-1-3-1
    notes: C,D,Eb,F,G,Ab,B

    You are using the words augmented and diminished to represent scales, true there is a diminished scale and an augmented scale:

    C Diminished
    intervals: 1,2,b3,4,b5,b6,6,7 It's called diminished because the 5 is flatted Notice the 3 yep this is a minor scale known as the diminished scale. AND it has 8 notes.
    half-steps: 2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1 or WHWHWHWH
    notes: C,D,Eb,F,Gb,Ab,A,B

    C Augmented
    intervals: 1,#2,3,#4,#5,7 It's called augmented because the 5 is sharped and notice this is a major scale as there is a natural 3. This combination is named augmented scale. AND has 6 notes.
    half-steps: 3-1-2-2-3-1
    notes: C,D#,E,F#,G#,B

    But augmented and diminished is normally used with what happens to a chord when you adjust the 5th interval of that chord.

    Play around with this http://www.looknohands.com/chordhous.../index_rb.html

    Jed your turn. What is the function of an augmented chord? I don't remember. I can not recall ever using one.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 03-13-2011 at 11:54 PM.

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    Wow guys, this is getting fun now.

    Malcom, if I understand you correctly, to use the term major when working in a minor scale would be theoretically wrong and I assume potentially confusing, and so this is why we would say augmented instead.

    Also, augmenting or diminishing an interval does not change a chords diatonic function.

    Is this correct?

  8. #8
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    Wow guys, this is getting fun now.

    Malcom, if I understand you correctly, to use the term major when working in a minor scale would be theoretically wrong and I assume potentially confusing, and so this is why we would say augmented instead.
    No.
    Minor scales do contain major intervals. (Just as major scales contain some minor ones.)

    "Augmented" means either a perfect or major interval that has been enlarged by a half-step.
    "Diminished" means either a perfect or minor interval that has been reduced by a half-step.

    Intervals come in a few standard sizes, and scales may contain many kinds.

    The harmonic minor scale contains an augmented 5th (root-#5), a diminished 4th (#5-root), an augmented 2nd (b6-7) and a diminished 7th (7-b6).
    In A minor, C-G# = aug5; G#-C = dim4; F-G# = aug 2; G#-F = dim7.

    The major scale also contains a diminished 5th (7-4) and an augmented 4th (4-7). Eg, B-F and F-B in C major.
    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    Also, augmenting or diminishing an interval does not change a chords diatonic function.

    Is this correct?
    Sometimes.
    If the chord is a dominant 7th, then altering its 5th (augmenting or diminishing it) won't change its function. Jazz "altered dominants" have #5s or b5s.
    Likewise, they may have altered 9ths (a minor 9th or augmented 9th instead of the usual major 9th). They still function as dominants.

    But any other chord type will be changed.

    Raising or lowering the 5th of a major chord makes it unstable. (A tonic chord will no longer have a tonic function.)
    Eg, if we change a C triad into a C+, it needs to resolve somewhere - normally either to F or Am. That makes it a kind of dominant in function (IMO). Of course, if the key is already F, then the function isn't changed. But in the key of C, G, or A minor, it has changed from one function to another.

    Lowering the 5th of a minor chord makes it a diminished chord.

    Raising the 5th of a minor chord turns it into an inversion of a major chord. (Eg Am#5 = F/A).

    Re your question about changing a scale in the course of modulation, or some other alteration: the most common is the use of secondary dominants. This generally involves raising minor intervals to major.
    Eg, in key of C, if we use an E7 to move to Am, we have raised the G (temporarily) to G#. You could say that the G# is augmented relative to C (because C-G# is a #5), but really it's just the major 3rd of the E chord; it's not relating to C.
    That implies the A harmonic minor scale (briefly).
    We could also use a G#dim7 to move to Am. In that case we have introduced a diminished 7th interval (G#-F) - but again it's temporary and implies harmonic minor.
    These kind of moves are only "modulations" if we stay in the new key. Otherwise - if the old key returns straight away - they are "secondary dominants" (or technically in the case of G#dim7-Am, in key of C, a "secondary leading tone chord").

    But not every alteration to a diatonic scale is a functional one like that. It might just be a passing chromaticism.

    If none of this is answering your question, we need - as Jed says - to have some specific examples fo what you're asking about.

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    Okay, if I have a minor scale, say C minor:

    C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C

    and I'm writing a melody when I decide to raise the Bb a half step, to B

    The interval from the tonic to the 7th has changed from minor 7th to major 7th.
    But the interval from the 6th to the 7th has gone from the size of a major 2nd to an augmented 2nd.

    I was taught that the interval qualities of the minor scale are as follows:

    T Major 2nd Minor 3rd Perfect 4th Perfect 5th Minorr 6th Minor 7th Octave

    And those of the harmonic minor:

    T Major 2nd Minor 3rd Perfect 4th Perfect 5th Minor 6th Major 7th Octave

    This obviously measures from the tonic to arive at the quality of a minor 7th or a major 7th.

    So, when I raised that 7th note of the scale I was in by one half step, why don't I refer to it as majoring the note instead of augmenting it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    So, when I raised that 7th note of the scale I was in by one half step, why don't I refer to it as majoring the note instead of augmenting it?
    Well I wouldn't use either term, "majoring it" or "augmenting it"...

    The names of intervals, though, follow some basic rules irrespective where you find them - in scales or anywhere else - you might study the wikipedia page here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interval_(music)

    Ab-Bb is a major 2nd interval (2 semitones); Ab-B is an augmented 2nd interval (3 semitones).
    Last edited by walternewton; 03-14-2011 at 02:41 AM.

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    Thank you Walter. I appreciate the feedback. What I'm trying to determine now is why we would name the change to B by looking at the interval from the 6th to the 7th (augmented 2nd), since when naming the interval qualities of the scale itself we look at the interval from the tonic to the 7th (major 7th). I know it's an unsusual question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    Thank you Walter. I appreciate the feedback. What I'm trying to determine now is why we would name the change to B by looking at the interval from the 6th to the 7th (augmented 2nd), since when naming the interval qualities of the scale itself we look at the interval from the tonic to the 7th (major 7th). I know it's an unsusual question.
    Well then, let's go back a step - who says you "name the change to B by looking at the interval from the 6th to the 7th"??

    While it's certainly true the interval from the 6th degree to the 7th degree changes between the natural minor and the harmonic minor (as does, of course, the interval from every other degree of the scale to the 7th degree) I think, as you note, that most of us primarily look at it from the root...a 7 instead of a b7; or maybe we'd say the (b)7 is raised a half step.
    Last edited by walternewton; 03-14-2011 at 04:00 AM.

  13. #13
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    Okay, if I have a minor scale, say C minor:

    C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C

    and I'm writing a melody when I decide to raise the Bb a half step, to B

    The interval from the tonic to the 7th has changed from minor 7th to major 7th.
    But the interval from the 6th to the 7th has gone from the size of a major 2nd to an augmented 2nd.

    I was taught that the interval qualities of the minor scale are as follows:

    T Major 2nd Minor 3rd Perfect 4th Perfect 5th Minorr 6th Minor 7th Octave

    And those of the harmonic minor:

    T Major 2nd Minor 3rd Perfect 4th Perfect 5th Minor 6th Major 7th Octave

    This obviously measures from the tonic to arive at the quality of a minor 7th or a major 7th.

    So, when I raised that 7th note of the scale I was in by one half step, why don't I refer to it as majoring the note instead of augmenting it?
    I'm not sure I see the problem.
    I wouldn't use the word "major" as a verb, to start with. You've "raised" the 7th, not "majored" it.
    The only thing that's been "augmented" is the interval from the 6th.
    You can measure a note in a scale from any other note you like - there are all kinds of potential intervals involved - but in defining it it's measured from the tonic.

    So the B in C harmonic minor is the major 7th (or "leading tone").
    It happens to also be an augmented 2nd from Ab, a major 3rd from G, an augmented 4th from F.... etc

    EDIT: sorry, I see walter has basically said all this!
    Last edited by JonR; 03-14-2011 at 04:39 AM.

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    Okay, let me know if I'm getting closer.

    1) If I write a melody made up of single notes, and I am using the C minor scale C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C; then for some reason I decide to use a B instead of a Bb, I don't really refer to it by its quality anyway, neither major 7th nor augmented 2nd.

    But if I am changing to a B because I am modulating from the current scale (key), I just need to know where the B fits into the key I'm modulating to--for resolution purposes for example.

    2) If I am using chords built from the notes of the C minor scale, and then I raise the Bb in one of those chords to a B, the chord itself might not have the scale's tonic note in it; so to think of the new interval in terms of the distance from the tonic would not apply.
    Last edited by TJM; 03-14-2011 at 11:13 PM. Reason: terminology correction

  15. #15
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    Okay, let me know if I'm getting closer.

    1) If I write a melody made up of single notes, and I am using the C minor scale C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C; then for some reason I decide to use a B instead of a Bb, I don't really refer to it by its quality anyway, neither major 7th nor augmented 2nd.
    When you do refer to it you would likely reference it's relationship to / distance from some other note or chord. If you were to reference it to the tonic of C minor, you would refer to it as the major 7th of C.

    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    But if I am changing to a B because I am modulating from the current scale (key), I just need to know where the B fits into the key I'm modulating to--for resolution purposes for example.
    Yes, but not for the reasons you think.

    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    2) If I am using chords built from the notes of the C minor scale, and then I raise the Bb in one of those chords to a B, the chord itself might not have the scale's tonic note in it; so to think of the new interval in terms of the distance from the tonic would not apply.
    Not necessarily. The V7 chord in C minor doesn't have the tonic in it (V7 = G7 = G B D F) - and yet the relationship between the 3rd of the G7 (B) and the tonic of C minor (C) is very significant (B is the major 7th of C).

    Isn't this fun??

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