Triad Theory for the Beginner

author: mikesocarras date: 05/14/2014 category: for beginners
rating: 4.3 / votes: 4 
Triad Theory for the Beginner

Triad Theory in Natural Keys (no flat or sharp keys)

1 3 5 or minor 1 b3 5 also known as I iii V or i iv v in Roman Numerals. Basically Major triads have a happy or bright sound to them and minor triads have a more dramatic or sad tone to them.

All major triads are made up of the 1 3 and 5 chord tones and 1 b3 5 scale tones in minor. These numbers simply mean the number of the note in that scale. So for example in the key or scale of C Major the 1 would be the C, the 2 would be D, the 3 would be E, the 4 would be F, the 5 would be the G. The 6 would be A and the 7 would be B.

If you see a (b) before the number it means flat. Flat means you lower the note by a half step. On your instrument this would be one fret lower. So in the key or scale of C Major you have 1 3 5 (C, E and G) and in the key or scale of C Minor you have (C, Eb and G). Notice the Eb is one fret lower than the E, or (a half step) down.

Go through the chords you know and try to memorize the 3 notes the triads contain. Start with the Major ones first and then go on to the minor ones. Knowing scales and chord tones will help you create and understand music better.

MAJOR

C 
C E G

D
D F# A

E
E G# B

F
F A C

G
G B D

A
A C# E

B
B D# F#

MINOR

Cm
C Eb G

Dm
D F A

Em
E G B

Fm
F Ab C

Gm
G Bb D

Am
A C E

Bm
B D F#

About the Author:
By Mike Socarras, guitar player, teacher.
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