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Section 21.5 Examples with Augmented Sixth Chords

Subsection 21.5.1 The Italian Augmented Sixth Chord

The first examples, from the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, shows an Italian augmented sixth chord (\(\left.\text{It}^{+6}\right.\)) in C minor with the “Classical” spelling.

Figure 21.5.1 Beethoven, Symphony No. 5, Op. 67, I (1808)

The next example from popular music has an \(\left.\text{It}^{+6}\right.\) spelled enharmonically as a major–minor seventh chord with the fifth omitted.

Figure 21.5.2 Duke Ellington, “It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)” (1931)

Subsection 21.5.2 The French Augmented Sixth Chord

The next example contains an example of a French augmented sixth chord (\(\left.\text{Fr}^{+6}\right.\)). Notice how the French augmented sixth chord has pre–dominant function and intensifies the drive toward the \(\left.\text{V}\right.\) chord.

Figure 21.5.3 Schubert, Winterreise, D. 911, “Der Wegweiser” (1823)

Subsection 21.5.3 The German Augmented Sixth Chord

The following example, from Rossini's William Tell Overture, has a German augmented sixth chord leading to a chord of dominant function, the \(\left.\text{I}^{6}_{4}\right.\) chord.

Figure 21.5.4 Rossini, William Tell Overture (1829)

John Coltrane's minor blues, “Mr. P.C.,” contains a German augmented sixth chord (spelled as \(\left.\text{VI}^{7}\right.\) in minor) progressing to the \(\left.\text{V}\right.\) chord. (Note: The bass line in this example is a jazz “walking” bass, which doesn't stick strictly to chord tones.)

Figure 21.5.5 John Coltrane, “Mr. P.C.” (1959)

The next example is a movie theme and features a German augmented sixth chord spelled as a major–minor seventh chord (\(\left.\text{VI}^{7}\right.\)). In this particular case, the third of the chord doesn't occur until the fourth beat of the measure.

Figure 21.5.6 Henry Mancini, “The Pink Panther Theme” (1963)

Fiona Apple's “Criminal,” from 1996, features German augmented sixth chords in the verse (\(\left.\text{F}^{7}\right.\) in the key of A minor) as well as in the pre–chorus, seen in the example below.

Figure 21.5.7 Fiona Apple, “Criminal” (1996)

A repeating progression of \(\left.\text{Am}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{F}^{7}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{E}\right.\) (\(\left.\text{i}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{Ger}^{+6}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{V}\right.\) in Roman numerals) occurs in “Friend Like Me” from the movie and musical Aladdin.

Figure 21.5.8 Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, Aladdin, “Friend Like Me” (1992)

Subsection 21.5.4 The Enharmonic German Sixth

In the following example an “Enharmonic German augmented sixth” chord occurs. While a \(\left.\text{G}^♭{}^{7}\right.\) chord would normally have the notes \(\text{G}^♭\)–\(\text{B}^♭\)–\(\text{D}^♭\)–\(\text{F}^♭\), the F♭ is respelled as an E♮, creating the interval of an augmented sixth, while the fifth of the chord, D♭, is respelled as a C♯, creating the interval of a doubly augmented fourth. In fact, some music theory textbooks refer to the Enharmonic German augmented sixth chord as “the chord of the doubly–augmented fourth.” The spelling is this way because the C♯ will resolve upward to a D♮, the third of a major \(\left.\text{I}^{6}_{4}\right.\) chord.

Figure 21.5.9 Robert Schumann, Dichterliebe, Op. 48, “Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen” (1840)