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A good way for you to incorporate this unusual chord into your own playing is to first substitute it for a maj7 chord. Next, you can start to use this color as a substitute for other types of chords. A good exercise is to take a standard, and change all the chords to maj7#5 chords, using the original roots.You’ll be amazed how this radically changes the sound of the tune, while still maintaining the form and shape.
Ex. 1. Quick reference rule: To play a maj7#5, play a major triad a major third above the root of the chord, as shown with the E major triad over a C bass note in 1a. Three scales are good for playing over maj7#5 chords; the first, shown in 1b, is the third mode of the melodic minor scale, which in this case is the A melodic minor, starting on the third degree. It’s called C Lydian augmented. The left hand is playing a root position Cmaj7#5. Due to their unusual nature, maj7#5 chords can be voiced in root position, and sound and function just fine. Measure 1c shows the third mode of the A harmonic minor scale, called the C major augmented scale. Measure 1d shows the harmonic major scale. The #5 is en-harmonically a b6, so in this scale, we have a natural 5 and a #5, as well as the natural 4.
Ex. 2. Another good choice is the equally unusual symmetric hexatonic augmented scale, usually referred to simply as the augmented scale. Whatever you call it, it’s a six note-scale, composed of two augmented triads a half-step apart (Baug and Caug), as in 2a. The scale, shown in 2b, alternates minor thirds and half steps. A chromatic sounding scale when applied to the maj7#5 chord, it contains both the major and minor third, and the perfect and augmented fifth. Here are some two-hand comping voicings for Cmaj7#5. The first one, shown in 2c, contains an E major triad (in second inversion) in the right hand, over what could be interpreted as an Amin maj7 rootless voicing in the left hand. Of course it’s also a Cmaj7#5 in the second inversion. Next in 2d, we have the two augmented triads that comprise the augmented scale. Chick Corea played this voicing in “The Brain” (in another key). Finally in 2e we have the major triad pair from the C Lydian augmented scale (voicing contains the #4 and #5).
Ex. 3. Here in 3a are the triad pairs from the C Lydian augmented scale used as a melodic line. In 3b, the C augmented scale contains three major triads (as scale tone-triads) a major third apart: C, E, Ab. Here’s a line using those scale tone triads in root position with a chromatic approach to each.
Ex. 4. WEB EXCLUSIVE EXAMPLE! The descending scale tone major triad line from the augmented scale (4a) is based on a famous Oliver Nelson lick, over a left hand root position chord. The augmented scale also contains three scale tone minor triads. Here in 4b is one way of making a linear statement playing them in triplets over a left-hand open shell. Another interesting component found in the augmented scale are major thirds, a half step apart. They make for an i...