What are Triads in Music?

We learned something new called Triads on Day 5 of our lessons and on day six, we learned 3 Major Chords: the C Major Chord, G Major Chord, and the D Major Chord.

The Triad is one of the most important harmonic units in western music and piano chords. Most pop songs are based on simple basic chords. If you can memorize these four basic piano chords, you will be able to freely play every pop song.

We at jenbree.com believe in the saying that the way to own what you learned is to share it. So, we are sharing with you the things that we learned in our Day 5 and 6 of learning to play the piano. If this is your first time on our website, we recommend you check out the prior articles of our journey so you can follow along.

Click here to go to:  Easy Piano Lessons in 2020 – Day 1 and 2

Click here to go to: Basic Piano Lessons for Beginners 2020 – Day 3 and 4

Day 5 – 45 mins of play + (1-hour of research)

What is a triad?

Triads are three different notes that are played simultaneously at once. You may be thinking, “Oh, now I get it, the word ‘tri’ is three, or a triangle with three sides. A triad is just a set of notes, as shown in the picture below. The three notes must be separated by one space in between each. A triad is just a set of notes, with these circumstances. ex) shown in the picture below.

We wanted to learn more about the triads so we did some additional research as well to get the music theory really sink in.

There are two rules to call a set of notes or chord, a triad.

  1. They have to be at least three notes
  2. These notes can be stacked together in stacked thirds (tertain – pronounced as “ter-shen”).

Speaking of the three notes in role number one above, it is actually not about having three notes. It is about building a triad using thirds. You start with a note, then add a note a third higher, and then another note a third higher.

Let’s analyze this example I have for a triad.

The bottom note is called the Root. The middle note is called the Third. And the top note is called the Fifth.

The root: the note on which the triad is built

The third: an interval of a third above the root

The fifth: an interval of a 5th above the root

One last note I would like to mention before we move on. In music, you will see notes shuffled around. Just because you see them in a different order doesn’t mean they are no longer a triad. As long as you can find an order like you can stack the notes in thirds, you would still call it a triad. Also, even though sometimes you will see G being the lowest note, we would still call C as the root, E the third, and G the fifth. I know this is confusing right now, but you will get it. The rule of thumb for a triad is how you can order the notes in a stack of ascending thirds.

Different Types of Triads

Triads come in many varieties, such as a major triad, a minor triad, an augmented triad, and a diminished triad.

Major Triad

Major Triad is the most common type of triad chords. This triad is built by simply adding the third and fifth notes in the scale above a root note. An example is in C major. This triad has:

C – the root

E – a major 3rd above the root

G – a perfect 5th above the root

Minor Triad

Using the same example we have above but switching to a C Minor Triad. This triad is built using the root, minor 3rd, and a perfect fifth.

C – the root

Eb – a minor 3rd above the root

G – a perfect 5th above the root

Augmented Triad (Augmented means greater)

This type of triad is build using all major 3rd intervals:

C – the root note

E – a major 3rd above the root

G#- an augmented 5th above the root

Diminished Triad (Opposite of Augmented triad)

Diminished triad is also known as the minor flatted fifth because it is a minor triad with a lowered (flattened-half step) fifth.

This type of triad is built using all major 3rd intervals:

C – the root note

Eb – a minor 3rd above the root

Gb- a diminished 5th above the root

 

Each type of triad explained above comes in a different set of chords. I’ve only given one example for each type of triad. Here are the different keys in diminished chords triad just for you to have an idea of how many triad chords there are for each type.

C dim = C – Eb – Gb
G dim = G – Bb – Db
D dim = D – F – Ab
A dim = A – C – Eb
E dim = E – G – Bb
B dim = B – D – F
F# dim = F# – A – C
Gb dim = Gb – A – C
Db dim = Db – E – G
C# dim = C# – E – G
Ab dim = Ab – B – D
Eb dim = Eb – Gb – A
Bb dim = Bb – Db – E
F dim = F – Ab – B

Day 6 – 1 hour of play

C, G, and D major chords (playing with both hands)

Following the same theory we already started above on triads, I am going to continue the same logic when explaining C, G and D major chords on the piano.

C Major Chord

Notes C, E, and G. Your thumb will be on note C (the root), Middle finger on E (3rd), and your pinky on G (5th).

The root: This one is easy to find. All you have to do is to find the name of the chord. In this example, since this is a C Major Chord, the root is C!

The 3rd: As I mentioned above the third of a C Major chord is E. This is the third up four half-steps from the root. This is how you count these four half-steps:

Start on: C

Step 1: move up to Db

Step 2: move up to D

Step 3: move up to Eb

Step 3: Land on E

To name each of the half steps above:

1. Db is a minor second above C

2. D is a major 2nd above C

3. Eb is a major third above C

4. E is a major third above C

The 5th

As mentioned above the 5th of a C Major chord is G. Again, you’ll use the same method of counting half-steps but this time you will count five half-steps down from the Root.

Start on: C

Step 1: move down to B

Step 2: move down to Bb

Step 3: move down to A

Step 4: move down to Ab

Step 5: Land on G

To name each of the half steps above:

1. B is a minor second below C

2. Bb is a major 2nd below C

3. A is a minor third below C

4. Ab is a major third below C

5. G is a fourth below C. I know it’s confusing why it’s called the fourth when it’s 5th half step down. The note G is down 5 half-steps from C, but up 7 half-steps from C. See the picture below for the count.

The G Major chord

Notes G, B, and D. Your thumb will be on note G (the root), Middle finger on B (3rd), and your pinky on =D (5th).

The root: This one is easy to find. All you have to do is to find the name of the chord. In this example, since this is a G Major Chord, the root is G!

The 3rd: As I mentioned above the third of a G Major chord is B. This is the third up four half-steps from the root. This is how you count these four half-steps:

Start on: G

Step 1: move up to Ab

Step 2: move up to A

Step 3: move up to Bb

Step 3: Land on B

To name each of the half steps above:

1. Ab is a minor second above G

2. A is a major 2nd above G

3. Bb is a major third above G

4. B is a major third above G

The 5th

The 5th of a G Major chord is D. Again, you’ll use the same method of counting half-steps but this time you will count five half-steps down from the Root.

Start on: G

Step 1: move down to F#

Step 2: move down to F

Step 3: move down to E

Step 4: move down to Eb

Step 5: Land on D

To name each of the half steps above:

1. F# is a minor second below G

2. F is a major 2nd below G

3. E is a minor third below G

4. Eb is a major third below G

5. D is a fourth below C. I know it’s confusing why it’s called the fourth when it’s 5th half step down. The note D is down 5 half-steps from G, but up 7 half-steps from G. See the picture below for the count.

The D Major chord

Notes D, F#, and A. Your thumb will be on note D (the root), Middle finger on F# (3rd), and your pinky on =A (5th).

The root: This one is easy to find. All you have to do is to find the name of the chord. In this example, since this is a D Major Chord, the root is note D!

The 3rd: The third of a D Major chord is F#. This is the third up four half-steps from the root. This is how you count these four half-steps:

Start on: D

Step 1: move up to Eb

Step 2: move up to E

Step 3: move up to F

Step 4: Land on F#

To name each of the half steps above:

1. Eb is a minor second above D

2. E is a major 2nd above D

3. F is a major third above D

4. F# is a major third above D

The 5th

The 5th of a G Major chord is A. Again, you’ll use the same method of counting half-steps but this time you will count five half-steps down from the Root.

Start on: D

Step 1: move down to C#

Step 2: move down to C

Step 3: move down to B

Step 4: move down to Bb

Step 5: Land on A

To name each of the half steps above:

1. C# is a minor second below D

2. C is a major 2nd below D

3. B is a minor third below D

4. Bb is a major third below D

5. A is a fourth below D. I know it’s confusing why it’s called the fourth when it’s 5th half step down. The note D is down 5 half-steps from D, but up 7 half-steps from D. See picture below

I hope you found these articles helpful. If you have any comments or questions please leave them below.

 

See you next time!

Cheers,

Jen and Bree

 

 

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