Mysterious Sounds: Augmented - Diminished Chords

pumpkins with painted faces.



Around this time of year, I'm always reminded of those mysterious sounds of the augmented and diminished chords. Here's an article I wrote awhile back.


When you play three notes at the same time, you are playing a chord. Triads are chords that have three notes. What we learn is that those three notes are all stacked in thirds.

To begin with, let us start with the F Major Chord. The first note that would be on the bottom is the root (F), the second note up is a third higher (A), and the third one is a third up from the second note (C).

Now, there are different types of thirds between the music notes in triads. Each third can be either major or minor. A major third has four half-steps between the notes, so we are looking at C to C# to D to D# to E. A minor third has 3 half-steps, C to C# to D to Eb, for an example.

The Diminished triads use only the minor thirds, one on top of the other. They sound dissonant and very scary like the interesting background music we hear from an old vaudeville skit. You know, when you see the lady tied to the railroad tracks. Oh, gosh, here comes the train! That is the sound I am hearing. They often create a very restless, nervous and tense feeling. So, C to Eb is a minor third and Eb to Gb is a minor third, too. Some folks refer to them as 'the Halloween' sound.

Keep in mind that the diminished triads can be used in your song playing as passing chords. They help connect two chords that are a whole tone apart. Here is an example of what I am talking about. If you are playing a song and at the beginning you play C-E-G (a C chord), why don't you hop on a C#dim chord on your way to Dm (D-F-A)?! I think you will agree, that is a very cool sound and a great transition in piano playing.

Moving on to Augmented triads, you will discover that they are made up of two major thirds. They also sound dissonant, and quite a bit noisy at that, like a honking truck on the street. In music they will definitely grab your attention. I have found these special sounds and transitions in popular songs that are from the 40's. When you look at these tones, C to E is a major third and E to C# is a major third as well.

From the Beatles music, (I'm a great fan) to Contemporary Worship (Gospel) songs, you will be discovering in your chord charts and soon playing these very interesting, set apart chords, the augmented and diminished chords.



  • Miss Celie's Blues (Sister)
The vehicle for this bluesy number was the critically acclaimed Warner Bros. film The Color Purple, which starred Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. Composer Quincy Jones was recently honored for his lifetime achievements by the Songwriters' Hall Of Fame.



B               D° 
 
 Sister, you've been on my mind 
 
 D#m5-/7       G#7 
 
 Sister, we're two of a kind 
 
  C#7/9 
 
 So     sister,  
 
     F#7                B   C° 
 
 I'm keepin' my eyes on you 
 
 C#m      F#5+/7         B 
 
 I betcha think I don't know nothin' 
 
     D° 
 
 But singin' the blues 
 
 D#m5-/7          G#7  
 
 Oh sister, have I    got news for you 
 
     C#7/9 
 
 I'm       somethin' 
 
   F#5+/7          
 
 I hope   you think that  
 
  F#7              B 
 
 You're somethin' too 
 
 B6  Bb6  A6  B  A#° 
 
 
 
 
 
  G#m       C#9 
 Scufflin',  
 
        G#m         C#9 
 
 I been up that lomesone road 
 
       G#m            E7+       G#m  C#9 
 
 And I seen a lot of suns goin' down 
 
         G#m     C#9 
 
 Oh, but trust   me 
 
     G#m              G#7       C#7  F#7 
 
 Now low life's gonna run me around 
 
                             B 
 
 So let me tell you something   sister 
 
   D° 
 
 Remember your name 
 
 D#m5-/7 
  
 No       twister,  
 
        G#7  
 
 Gonna steal your stuff away 
 
    C#7/9  
 
 My sister 
 
 F#7                           B    D#7  G#7 
 
 Sho' ain't got a whole lot of time 
 
                  C#7/9 
 
 So shake you shimmy, Sister 
 
 F#7                              B6  Bb6  A6  B  B7/F# 
 
 'Cause honey I sure is feelin' fine 
  
  • Arrangement to the song (different key)


C               B7
 
 Sister, you've been on my mind 
 
Em7-5     A7 
 
 Sister, we're two of a kind 
 
 D7 
 
 So     sister,  
 
     G7                 C C#dim
 
 I'm keepin' my eyes on you 
 
G7                           C
 I betcha think I don't know nothin' 
 
    B7 
 
 But singin' the blues 
 
Em7-5            A7  
 
 Oh sister, have I    got news for you 
 
           D7
 
 I'm       somethin' 
 
   Ab7          
 
 I hope   you think that  
 
                  C  E7
 
 You're somethin' too 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 Am        
 Scufflin',  
 
 E7/B   Am/C             E7/B
 
 I been up that lomesone road 
 
       Am            F7         Am 
 
 And I seen a lot of suns goin' down 
 
 E7/B    Am        E7/B
 
 Oh, but trust   me 
 
     Am/C              A/C#    D7 Ab7 
 
 Now low life's gonna run me around 
 
                                C
 G7
 So let me tell you something   sister 
 
  B7
 
 Remember your name 
 
 Em7-5 
  
 No       twister,  
 
        A7  
 
 Gonna steal your stuff away 
 
    D7  
 
 My sister 
 
Ab7                           C    E7  
 
 Sho' ain't got a whole lot of time 
 
                      D7   Ab7
 A7
 So shake you shimmy, Sister 
 
G7                             C  G7+5  C7
 
 'Cause honey I sure is feelin' fine 
 
 
 
Here's the chord breakdown to the song.  
C = EG/EC
B7 = F#A/D# 
A7 = GA/C#EG
D7 = F#A/EC 
G7 = F/GEEb
C = EG/E
C#dim = C#GBb/E
G7 = FGB/G
C = EG/EC
B7 = F#A/D#BBb
Em7-5 = GBb/DG
A7 = GA/C#G
D7 = F#A/EC
Ab7 = EbGb/AbC
C = CEBb/GC
E7 = EG#/DE
Am = CA/CE
E7/B = BG#/DE
Am/C = CA/EA
E7/B = BG#/Eb
Am = CEa/EC
F7 = CEbA/G
Am = CEA/E
E7/B = BG#/ACD
Am = CA/CE
E7/B = BG#/DE
Am/C = CA/EA
A/C# = C#GA/Bb
D7 = DF#/CD
Ab7 = EbGb/CEb
G7 = F/BDG
C = EG/EAC
B7 = F#A/D#B
Em7-5 = GBb/DG
A7 = GA/C#Bb
D7 = F#A/EC
Ab7 = EbGbAbC
C = EG/E
E7 = EG#/D
A7 = GA/C#E
D7 = F#A/EC
Ab7 = EbGb/C
G7 = GF/GC
C = C/GC
G7+5 = GF/BD#
C7 = CEG/BbC
4 Free Video Lessons

Have a fun Halloween!
Best,






"Jazz washes away the dust of every day life." -- Art Blakey

Lesson: Learn The Circle of Fifths


Circle of Fifths from wikimedia.org


If you're a visual learner like me, and you really want to get this theory thing down, you might want to visit some pictures at Piano Clues In the meantime, here's an article I wrote awhile back on this subject.


  • Learn The Circle of Fifths



Often times when one refers to the Circle of Fifths we think about Scales. Today I would like to expose some secrets in the Circle of Fifths. Whether you are just beginning to play the piano or you are a seasoned musician, learning the theory behind the Circle of Fifths is an extremely important and valuable tool to have.

My understanding of the Circle of Fifths is that you must first be able to measure the interval of a perfect fifth. A perfect fifth spans five staff degrees and is comprised of three whole-steps, and one half step, or seven half-steps. rather than counting steps, a perfect fifth can be calculated more quickly by using information already learned in connection with the scale, the note from which the measurement is to be made as tonic. From a tonic note up to its dominant note is an ascending perfect fifth.

It is through the interval of the perfect fifth that keys are related to each other. Starting with C, we count up a perfect fifth to find the keynote G for the scale with one sharp; we count up a perfect fifth from G to find the keynote D for the scale with two sharps, and so on until we reach C# with seven sharps.

The flat keys are related in a similar manner. Starting with C, we count down a perfect a perfect fifth to find the keynote F for the scale with one flat; we count down a perfect fifth from F to find the keynote Bb for the scale of two flats, and so on until we reach Cb, with seven flats. Each progression up a fifth adds one new sharp, and each progression down by fifth adds one new flat.

The key names used for 5, 6, and 7 sharps have enharmonic equivalents in the names for keys 5, 6, and 7 flats: B (5 sharps) and Cb (7 flats); F# (6 sharps) and Gb (6 flats); C# (7 sharps) and Db (5 flats). so now the circle of fifths formajor keys is produced.

This circle includes all the major key names with the sharp keys reading clock-wise from C, and the flat keys reading counterclockwise from C. The circle is joined by the three enharmonic keys. The number of sharps or flats for each key can be determined by counting the number of fifths away from C.

For example, A has three sharps because it is the third key clockwise from C; Db has 5 flats because it is five keys counterclockwise from C. The circle also indicates the order of sharps and flats on the staff.

  • Why is this important?
I was explaining to my grandson that if he just learned 3 chords in his left hand, he could then play tons of songs. We started with Amazing Grace in C and then played it in the Key of G. For a moment in time, I think it clicked and he is now playing I-IV-V chord progressions. You see, I want him to learn how to read the music notes on the staff but also to understand theory and play some songs without the sheets.

Another good guy on the net that can help explain some more details to this Circle is, Jon Chappell

I have a resource in my library that I refer to often. It's like a text book that you can write in. You may be interested in the 300pg Piano By Ear Home Study Course

Can you play I-IV-V chord progressions in every key? Try it this week.



All the best,





"Jazz washes away the dust of every day life." -- Art Blakey

How To Play Alley Cat Song

Alley Cat by songwriter Frank Bjorn


In 1962 Alley Cat Song was written by Jack Harlen (words) and Frank Bjorn (music).
Play moderately slow, 4/4 time.





    C                                                                          G7
 He goes on the / prowl each night * / like an Al-ley / Cat, * * * / 
                                                                                              C
Look - in’ for some / new de - light * / like an Al - ley / Cat * * *
                                                                                                                             G7
 She can’t trust him / out of sight, * / there’s no doubt of / that. * * * / 
                                                                                               C
 He just don’t know / wrong from right * / like an Al - ley / Cat. * * .....
       F                                       C                                    D7
He / meets ‘em * * / * * * and / loves ‘em * * / * * * and / leaves ‘em * * / * * * * /
(Mee-0w) (Mee-0w) (Mee-0w)
                                          G7                       C
 that's what Cat - sa- / no – va does. * / It’s no way to / treat a pal, * /
                                  G7
she should tell him, / scat! * * * / Aren’t you sor – ry / for that gal * /
                              C
With her al - ley / cat? * * .....
        F                                               C                                       D7
He / meets ‘em * * / * * * and / loves ‘em * * / * * * and /leaves ‘em * * / * * * * /
(Mee-0w) (Mee-0w) (Mee-0w)
                                                 G7                         C
like that Cat - sa- / no – va does. * / That’s no way to / treat a pal, * /
                                   G7     
she should tell him, / scat! * * * / Aren’t you sor – ry / for that gal * /
                           C                              F         F#dim       C             A7
with her al - ley / cat? * - And that’s the sad, sad, tale of a / lone-some frail, __ /
   D7        G7        C
* and her Al-ley / Cat.___ * ||



  • Chord Breakdown
L.h. / R.H.

C = C/EGC

G7 = D/BFB

C= EGC

G7 = D/ BFB

C = C/EGC

F = F/FAD *

C = C/EAD

D7 = D/F#AD

G7 = D/BFB

C = C/EGC * (repeat back to *)

Coda

C = C/EGC

F = F/DAD

F#dim = F#/EbAD

C = G/ECE

A = C#GA

D7 = D/CF#A

G7 = G/BFB

C = C/EGC

  • L.H. Riff
G, G#, A, A#, B, C, C#, D

Have fun with the song!



Score to Alley Cat, here.

Guitar tabs and piano chord chart, here.

 A great songwriter, mostly popular for Alley Cat Song. Also goes by,
Bent FabricBent Fabricius-BjerreFrank Barcley

Frank Bjorn also wrote The Happy Puppy! :=)

You may be interested in the  free 44 page, Musician Transformation Guide
Also, 30 day trial Musician Transformation and Gospel Music Training Center





"Jazz washes away the dust of every day life." -- Art Blakey

Learn to Play Pink Panther

Pink Panther


It seems everyone wants to play The Pink Panther! Written in 1964 by Henry Mancini, it remains an all-time great! It should be played moderately slow and mysterious with a swing rhythm. I couldn't find a free piano chord chart online but here are a few resources that may help. I will add my own chords on this post in hopes that it will be somewhat helpful to you.

If you read sheet music, here are a few riffs from the song.

Or if your familiar with finger style on the guitar, here is the guitar tab.


  • Pink Panther Chords
Em = EB

C7 = CG

Em = EB/E

C7 = CG/Bb

Em = EB?E

F7 =  FC/Eb

Em = EB/E

C7 = CG/Bb

Em = EB/G

C = CG/G

Em = EB/G

C9 = EBbD/Bb

Em = E/GBE

F9 = AEbG/Eb

Em = E/GBE

C9 = EBbD/Bb

C9 = EBbD/DEBb

Em = EGB/G

Em6 = EGC#/E

Em = EGB

C = CEG

C6 = A/E

C7 = CEBb

C6 = CEA

C = CEG

Em = EGB

Em6 = EGC#

Em = EGC

G = DGB

Gb = DbGbBb

F = CFA

Gb = DbGbBb

G = DGB

  • Bass Riffs (L.H.)
C#G# - DA - D#A# - EB (walk up)

EbBb - DA - DbAb - CG (walk down)

Before the F7, play DA - D#A# - EB - FC

  • R.H. Riffs (single notes)
D#, E, F#, G, A#, B, D#, E, F#, G, A#, B

D#, E, F#, G, A, Bb, D#, E, F#, G, A, Bb

D#, E, F#, G, C, B, G, B, E, Eb

D#, E, F#, G, C, B, E, G, B, Bb, A, G, E, D, E

E, D, B, A, G, E, Bb, A, Bb, A, Bb, A, G, E, D, E

G, E, D, E
  • Some R.H. Chords
F#A#D#, GBD, A#D#F#, BEG

  • Triplets (R.H.)
GAB - BbAAb - GEEb - DEbE - GBbD

EGA - A#BE - EbDDb - CAAb - GAbA

BbAAb - GF#F - E

GED - EEE (close the song with)


Have fun!
Ultimate Pink Panther

You may be interested in Gospel Keys Organ Collection

All the best,




"Jazz washes away the dust of every day life." -- Art Blakey
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