# Could someone dumb down triads for me?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Dr. Zoidberg, Apr 3, 2005.

1. ### Dr. Zoidberg

Apr 1, 2005
Boston/Minneapolis
I've read through most of the links here on TB and still don't fully understand triads. I know how to read music, maj/min scales and most modes, etc, but I just don't understand triads.

Could someone explain them to me in a dumb'd down fashion? How do they relate to the root and the fret's?

Much Thanks!

2. ### Kelly Coyle

Nov 16, 2004
Mankato, MN
For the most part, triads are three notes (duh) with a third between each of them. So, in general:

note - interval of a third - note - interval of a third - note

OK, what's a third? The distance between two notes that's more than a second, which is one or two half-steps, and less than a fourth, which is five or six half steps. A third is three or four half-steps, the distance between, say, C and Eb (minor third), or C and E (major third).

With me?

So, there's just a few triads. Since there's two kinds of thirds (major and minor), and there's two thirds in a triad (the distance between the first note -- the root -- and the second note, and the distance between the middle note and the top note), we can arrange all of the possible combinations like so:

m3 m3 (small m for minor): C Eb Gb (C diminished)
m3 M3: C Eb G (C minor)
M3 m3: C E G (C major)
M3 M3: C E G# (C augmented)

It's not quite that easy, though, since you can invert the triads which simply means to rearrange the notes: Eb Gb C is still C diminished.

I hope that's what you were asking for. Try looking at Mick Goodrich's books, like The Advancing Guitarist or that harmony almanac thing he created. He has a system for understanding all of jazz harmony based on triads (rather than seventh chords, like usual).

3. ### Tash

Feb 13, 2005
Bel Air Maryland
Its even easy to draw out on paper, since you can read. Get a peice of staff paper. Write out all the notes of the C major scale from C to C (CDEFGABC).

Now build a 3 note chord off of C using every OTHER note in the scale, you'll get CEG.

That is a C Major Triad.

No do the same starting on the D - you get DFA - which is a D minor triad.

That's how you build a triad, any triad: simply stack the next two 3rds above the root note.

Like Yellow said, you can invert triads, which simply means playing them with a note other than the root on the bottom. If you play EGC you still have a C major triad, even though the bottom note is E.

4. ### jazzbo

Aug 25, 2000
San Francisco, CA
Click on my user name in this post, then "Visit Jazzbo's Homepage."

5. ### Dr. Zoidberg

Apr 1, 2005
Boston/Minneapolis
I had actually read through all of that before making this topic. Great article.

Thanks Yellow and Tash, I understand it better now.

6. ### Tash

Feb 13, 2005
Bel Air Maryland
Shall we move on to 7ths now?