Skip to main content

Section 29.4 Voice Leading Augmented Sixth Chords

It may be helpful to review the three types of augmented sixth chords before discussing how one voice leads them.

The salient accidental in all three augmented sixth chords is ♯\(\hat{4}\) , which almost always resolves upward to \(\hat{5}\) .

Figure 29.4.1 ♯\(\hat{4}\) to \(\hat{5}\) in resolution to V

The ♯\(\hat{4}\) scale degree also resolves to \(\hat{5}\) when an augmented sixth chord resolves to the Cadential \(\left.\text{}^{6}_{4}\right.\) chord.

Figure 29.4.2 ♯\(\hat{4}\) to \(\hat{5}\) in resolution to Cadential \(\left.\text{}^{6}_{4}\right.\)

With the enharmonic German augmented sixth chord (abbreviated \(\left.\text{EnGer}^{+6}\right.\), containing ♭\(\hat{6}\) , \(\hat{1}\) , ♯\(\hat{2}\) , and ♯\(\hat{4}\) ), ♯\(\hat{2}\) and ♯\(\hat{4}\) resolve upward to members of a major \(\left.\text{I}^{6}_{4}\right.\) chord.

Figure 29.4.3 ♯\(\hat{2}\) to ♯\(\hat{2}\) resolving upward when in an \(\left.\text{EnGer}^{+6}\right.\)

The exception to ♯\(\hat{4}\) to \(\hat{5}\) occurs when an augmented sixth chord resolves to \(\left.\text{V}^{7}\right.\), in which case ♯\(\hat{4}\) resolves to ♮\(\hat{4}\) , which is the 7th of the \(\left.\text{V}^{7}\right.\) chord.

Figure 29.4.4 ♯\(\hat{4}\) to ♮\(\hat{4}\) in resolution to \(\left.\text{V}^{7}\right.\)

If you voice lead an augmented sixth chord to something other than \(\left.\text{V}\right.\), \(\left.\text{V}^{7}\right.\), or \(\left.\text{i}^{6}_{4}\right.\), move all of the voices smoothly while avoiding objectionable parallels and employing proper doublings.