Chord Analysis/Breakdown: The Major Seventh Sharp Five Chord (Maj7#5)

In this lesson, we’ll be breaking down the major seventh sharp five chord.

The major seventh sharp five is also known as the augmented major seventh chord and is an important seventh chord that every serious gospel musician must have in his or her chordal vocabulary.

The major seventh sharp five chord (aka – “augmented major seventh chord”) can be understood if we breakdown the individual words that make up a chord which are: major, seventh, and sharp five.

So, let’s get started by breaking down the term major.

The Term “Major” Defined

Major is one of the attributes or character of a key or key environment that is used to qualify a key environment. There are basically two key types: the major key type, and the minor key type.

So, the term major and minor are used to define the attributes or character of a key. While the major key is said to have attributes like day, happiness, light, and so on, the minor key is attributed with darkness, sadness, the nightly, the ghostly, and the fearful. That’s pretty much contrasting to what we have in the major key.

The term major is used to describe any musical element (be it a scale, interval, chord, chord progression, or song) that is related to the major key, or has its attribute.

The Term “Seventh” Defined

The term seventh is basically an ordinal number. Ordinal numbers are used in music to quantify chords, and intervals, and this is basically the quantity of an interval or a chord is derive from the number of notes – scale notes, that it encompasses.

In this case, the term seventh is used to describe a chord that encompasses seven degrees of the scale. So, a basic seventh chord in the key of C major:

…should encompass the first seven tones of the C natural major scale which spans from C to B:

The Term “Sharp Five” Explained

Sharp five is basically an intervallic name that is used to describe a pitch that is a half step higher than the fifth degree of the major or minor scale.

For example, in the key of C major:

…where the fifth tone is G:

The sharp five, is basically the pitch that is a half step higher than the fifth tone of the scale, and that’s G#:

So, the sharp five in the case of the C major scale:

…is G#:

Use of terms like sharp five and flat five in music is basically to indicate the chromatic variant of the basic scale tones in any key. For example, sharp five indicates that the fifth degree is raised, while flat five indicates that the fifth degree is lowered.

So, the introduction of the sharp five indicates that a diatonic tone has been modified, and through the modification, there is a chromatic variant of the regular fifth degree.

So, for the fifth degree of the key which is G:

…we are modifying it chromatically, by raising it by a half step to G#:

…and G#:

…is a chromatic variant of G natural:

…in the key of C:

The final term in the major seventh sharp five chord is chord. So, let’s briefly talk about chords.

A Short Note On The Term “Chord”

According to Jermaine Griggs, “…a chord is basically collection of three or more related notes (agreeable or not) that may be played or heard together.”

From the definition of a chord, one keyword that we’ll expand on is related notes.

Any collection of three or more notes can be considered as a chord if there is a relationship between them, and there are two relationship types that can exist between chord tones:

  • Scale relationship
  • Intervallic relationship

The notes of a chord must be related by a scale, and this scale is called the underlying scale.

In the case of the Cmaj7#5 chord:

…the scale for the chord is the lydian augmented scale which is the third mode of the melodic minor scale.

So, the C lydian augmented scale:

…can be formed by raising the fourth and fifth tones of the C natural major scale:

So, raising the fourth and fifth tones of the C natural major scale which are F and G (respectively):

…by a half step (to F# and G#):

…produces the C lydian augmented scale:

The C lydian augmented scale is the underlying scale of the C maj7#5 chord:

…and the notes of the C maj7#5 chord which are C, E, G#, and B respectively:

…are the first, third, fifth, and seventh tones of the C lydian augmented scale:

Like I said earlier, the lydian augmented scale can be formed by raising the fourth and fifth tones of the regular major scale. So, raising the fourth and fifth tones of D natural major scale:

…which are G and A:

…respectively, to G# and A#:

…produces the D lydian augmented scale:

The next relationship that can exist between the tones of a chord is intervallic relationship.
The distance between the tones of the C maj7#5 chord:

…is basically in thirds.

From C to E:

…is a third interval.

From E to G#:

…is a third interval.

From G# to B:

…is another third interval.

The Formation Of The Major Seventh Sharp Five Chord

There are so many ways to form the augmented major seventh chord. However, we’ll focus on the smartest ways possible.

The Use Of The Augmented Triad

Using the augmented triad, the major seventh sharp five chord can be formed. Let me show you step-by-step how this works.

Using the C augmented triad:

…the C major seventh sharp five can be formed by adding the seventh tone of the C major scale:

…which is B:

…to the C augmented triad:

…to produce the C augmented major seventh chord:

“Following The Same Procedure…”

The F augmented major seventh chord can be formed using the F augmented triad:

…by adding the seventh tone of the F natural major scale:

…which is E:

…to the F augmented triad:

…to produce the F augmented major seventh chord:

The Use Of The Major Seventh Chord

One of the easiest ways to form the major seventh sharp five chord is using the major seventh chord.

The major seventh sharp five chord is basically a major seventh chord, with a sharp five. Therefore, using any major seventh chord, you can form the augmented major seventh chord by raising its fifth tone by a half-step.

“It’s Simpler Than It Sounds…”

Using the C major seventh chord:

…the C augmented major seventh chord can be formed by raising the fifth tone (which is G):

…by a half-step (to G#):

…to produce the C augmented major seventh chord:

Final Words

Having covered the major seventh sharp five chord in this lesson, it is important for you to learn it in all twelve keys.

“Here’s A Reference For You…”

C augmented major seventh:

Db augmented major seventh:

D augmented major seventh:

Eb augmented major seventh:

E augmented major seventh:

F augmented major seventh:

Gb augmented major seventh:

G augmented major seventh:

Ab augmented major seventh:

A augmented major seventh:

Bb augmented major seventh:

Cb augmented major seventh:

See you in the next lesson on the application of the major seventh sharp five chord.

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Chuku Onyemachi

Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. I started teaching musicians in my neighbourhood in April 2005. Today, I'm humbled to work as a music consultant with HearandPlay Music Group for musicians in Africa and beyond.

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1 comment
Carolyn Clark says July 30, 2019

Thanks for sharing. God bless you.

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