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I recently wrote a song in the key of E major, but I augmented the 6th chord and made it a major, so my progression for the chorus is E major, B major, D major, A major. Is this unusual to do? If not, can you give me other examples of songs this is used in.

Thank you

  • If you're in E major, you're not using any kind of 6th. An augmented 6th is also a very specific idea in music I'm assuming your referring to the D major chord. If so see this question as it's pretty much what you want music.stackexchange.com/q/29817/7222. – Dom Dec 5 '16 at 4:44
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    To clarify, I think your confusion is that you are interpreting the D as a C#m raised by a semitone (hence 'augmented'). In reality, the D is actually the D# lowered (and converted from diminished to major). Hence, the term is 'flat 7' (bVII), not augmented six. Follow Dom's link for more information. – endorph Dec 5 '16 at 5:08
  • @endorph Or at least that's the musical consensus on analysis of this sonority (but that's a discussion for another day...) – user45266 Apr 13 at 5:54
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You haven't augmented anything.You've used a D chord in its own right. That is not augmenting. Augmenting involves taking certain intervals between two notes only, and stretching them by a semitone.

Take E and B. A perfect fifth. Stretch the B up a semitone, to B# (aka C) and you have an augmented 5th. Take the E down to Eb (note, not D#), and it's an aug. 5th.

Even if you took the C#m up a semitone, as a chord it's minor, so the 'augmented' chord should be Dm. It's not.

The simple explanation comes from use of chords from the PARALLEL key. Oft used in pop music, where any chords from the E minor key can be used alongside those of E major.

There are many, many examples in pop music of the last 50 odd years.

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You're using the chord on ♭7. Outside the scale, but so what? It's very common. Here's a classic example.

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It sounds like what you did was not an "augmented sixth chord" (which, as mentioned, is a specific kind of chord that generally comes before V to increase tension), but a borrowed chord from Em (D = bVII). It could also be seen as a modal chord; you're essentially playing with both Ionian mode (standard major scale) and Mixolydian (major scale with a flat seventh).

There's a lot you can do with this trick, including potentially modulating to other keys very smoothly now that you've set up a looser tonality!

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Your song's chord progression is in essence I-V-bVII-IV (1-5-b7-4) Looking at the roots by themselves, they are E, B, D and A.

Interestingly, the distance from E to B downward is a perfect 4th. the distance from D to A downward is guess what? A perfect 4th too.

It is common in a song to first play 2 different chords, then reuse that same interval between the next 2 chords starting on a different root. (It doesn't necessarily have to be in that key's scale, as your D shows.)

Another song in E that comes to mind is George Harrison's "Got My Mind Set on You." It starts with C#m to G#m (its roots are a perfect 4th apart.) Then it goes from E to B (also a perfect 4th.)

You know, I've been busting my brain thinking I've heard this somewhere before. At first I wanted to keep going down this perfect 4th road, E to B, D to A, C to G. Then it hit me . . .

what if we take your example down to the key of D? We then have D to A, C to G. It sounds familiar . . .

Those chords are embedded in that prominent downward riff in Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir." Part of that is G to D, F to C,
D to A, C to G ...) (*)

Thanks to you, we can now consider playing it in E.

(*) = the guitar plays these chords, the bass stays constant on D.

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Other answers fail to mention where OP went wrong.

OP likely took the 6th scale degree and raised it from C♯ to D, building a major chord from it. Trouble is, that D major chord exists in the parallel minor E minor, so us theorists say that this is a borrowed chord from E minor instead of the raised 6th degree's major chord. Since in E minor, it'd D major, we call it that instead of C♯♯ major.

Confusingly, we do do it OP's way for some chords; the Neapolitan 6th chord is the ♭II chord; in E major, that's F. But because the note OP describes is either ♯6 or ♭7, we call it ♭7 instead most of the time.

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