Help develop tension in your lines by using symmetrical arpeggios like the augmented triad and diminished seventh chord. Let’s take a look at how they work and try an exercise.
Augmented triads and diminished seventh chords both have equal interval distances between tones. Because of this we find that we can assign a root to any of the notes in the chord or arpeggio and end up with the same chord type and collection of tones. Another way to look at it is from the perspective of inversions. Since the augmented triad and the diminished seventh chord both are symmetrical, all the inversions have the same shape as the root.
Let’s look a little further into each type. The Augmented triad has three notes separated by major thirds. This means that there are four augmented triads total to work with given that there are twelve notes. Similarly, the diminished seventh chord has four notes separated by minor thirds. So it follows that there are three of these total.
Try this exercise while working with these symmetrical chord and arpeggio types:
- Improvise with an augmented or diminished seventh arpeggio.
- Play one interval that is not part of the arpeggio.
- Begin playing a new arpeggio.
- Repeat the process.
- Experiment with alternating between the augmented and diminished seventh chords.
This exercise is fun and challenging. Doing this exercise will help to improve your knowledge of chords and intervals. It will also help develop tension in your lines and touches on what John Coltrane was able to do with some of his progressions and playing. Having a little harmony in the background is a good idea. Even just a single major chord.