#1
Basic Triads


There are four types of triads, the most basic of all chord structures, and what all chords structures are built upon.
Major, Minor, Diminished, and Augmented.

Triads are formed by major and minor 3rds. A major 3rd is 4 half-steps. A minor 3rd is 3 half-steps. (A half-step is one fret)

ie. B flat is the minor 3rd of G, and B is the major 3rd of G.


A major triad is formed by the root, the major 3rd, and the perfect 5th. The reason I said triads are made from major and minor thirds, is because the perfect 5th is a minor 3rd away from the major third in the triad. Let me simplify it.

Major Triad:
Root ? (major 3rd interval) ? Major 3rd ? (Minor 3rd interval) ? Perfect 5th


So say we wonna make a G major triad. G is your root. A major 3rd up from G is B. A minor 3rd up from B is D. Looks like this.

----------
----------
---7------ Perfect 5th
---9------ Major 3rd
---10------ Root
----------


So now we know that a major triad is constructed with a major 3rd and a minor 3rd. The rest is easy. All the examples use G as the root.

Minor Triad:
Root ? (minor 3rd interval) ? Minor 3rd ? (major 3rd interval) ? Perfect 5th

----------
----------
----7------ Perfect 5th
----8------ Minor 3rd
----10----- Root
----------


Diminished Triad:
Root ? (minor 3rd interval) ? Minor 3rd ? (minor 3rd interval) ? Flat 5th
(Flat means one half-step below the normal note. Sarp means one half-step higher.)

----------
----------
----6----- Flat 5th
----8----- Minor 3rd
----10--- Root
----------


Augmented Triad:
Root ? (major 3rd interval) ? Major 3rd ? (major 3rd interval) ? Sharp 5th


----------
----------
-----8----- Sharp 5th
-----9----- Major 3rd
----10------ Root
----------


Inversions

Now that you know your triads, let?s do some Inversions. All the triads shown previously in this lesson were in ?root position? Laid out on a piano these are easy to play, but on guitar, they aren?t the most practical choice. This isn?t necessarily a bad thing. Inverting a chord can make it sound fuller.

Inversions are more or less pretty easy to comprehend. It all has to do with the order of notes in the chord. So lets use the G Major Triad. The notes are the root, G, the 3rd, B, and the 5th, D. So you have your root position.

----------
----------
---7------ Perfect 5th
---9------ Major 3rd
---10------ Root
----------

But what if you did this,

----------
----8------ Root
----7------ Perfect 5th
----9------ Major 3rd
----------
----------

It?s still a G Major Triad. Only the Root isn?t the lowest note. The above chord is called the 1st inversion, because it?s been inverted once. Inverting is simply taking the lowest note, and making it the highest note. Sort of like, the chord rolling over itself.

----7----- Major 3rd
----8----- Root
----7----- Perfect 5th
----------
----------
----------

You may recognize that one. It?s just like D major in open position. This one?s the 2nd inversion, because it?s been inverted twice. Not only triads can be inverted. Every chord can be inverted. A triad can only be inverted twice, because it has 3 notes. A chord can only have as many inversions as its notes allow. A triad, having 3 notes, has 2 inversions plus its root position, adding up to 3. A five note chord will have its root position plus 4 inversions.

We as guitarists almost never play root position chords. It simply isn?t practical. For example, here?s a G7 in root position:

----------
-----6-----
-----7-----
-----9-----
----10-----
----------

Imagine playing that every time you see a dominant 7 chord while you?re reading down a chart. Triads are pretty easy to muster in root pos., but anything beyond that is much easier in other inversions. Plus the fact that using different inversions, and not playing the same chord the same way every time will give depth, and make your music much more interesting!

On guitar, we?re forced to play chords with weird voicings most of the time. A lot of the chords you play won?t be standard inversions; simply cuz the neck doesn?t allow it. One of the most common ways to play a dominant 7 isn?t a standard inversion.

----------
----12--- Major 3rd
----10--- Flat 7th
----12--- Perfect 5th
----10--- Root
----------

I'll follow up with extended chords.
Last edited by kung_pao at Jun 22, 2006,
#2
"ie. B is the minor 3rd of G, and B flat is the major 3rd of G."
You've mixed up the B and Bb here.

Also, the part on resolving augmented and diminishing chords makes me cry because of the simplism.. I suggest leaving that out, since this article is about triads and inversions, not about resolving etc.

That very last example you gave (the G7) is a drop2. Perhaps explain that a bit, just like drop3

I think you did a good job, although I miss the thing where every inversion is nicely lined up! Like below, with Dmajor

--------------2-5-10-
-------3-7-10-3-7-10-
2-7-11-2-7-11-2-7-11-
4-7-12-4-7-12--------
5-9-12---------------
---------------------
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#3
I think that this is what my teacher said:

Quote by Random Music Teacher


A triad is a chord with any three notes, but it must contain only three notes......



So there are many more triads, simply three notes a semi-tone apart played harmonically could be considered a triad.

You need to use code when using examples on the fretboard.

Proof read it for any mistakes, one was pointed out above, there might be more.

Other than that, it will make a great article, and it will be very useful to some beginners.

Good Job

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#4
About resolutions, diminished triads, such as BDF, resolve to major chords as easily as they do to minor chords. IF the chord BDF moved to CEG; it would be heard as V7-I, the ear interpreting BDF as a G7 chord. In any chord, there are essential tones, in this case the 3 and 7 In the case of the major triad in the example the tonic and 3rd that identify the chord. BF resolving to CE would be heard as a V7-I in C for the same reason.

Anyhow I do like your style of presentation and I understand that the article was not focused on resolutions; the subject of resolution could easily be a series of articles. I agree with the poster above who suggested maybe editing that part out, not only due to inaccuracy but also lack of relavence.

Again, for the most part really good work.