Learn about triads

Triads are three note chords built of degrees of a scale. 

Constructing a triad


Major- 1-3-5

Minor- 1- b3- 5

Diminished- 1- b3- b 5

Names of notes


In addition we number the notes or call them by other names. So, in C major:

C- First/Root/Tonic

D- Second/Supertonic

E- Third/Mediant

F- Fourth/ Subdominant

G- Fifth/ Dominant

A- Sixth/ Submediant 

B- Seventh/ Leading Tone

These names for notes are also applicable in any key, for example in G major G would be our Root, A would be our Supertonic etc.

Natural minor scale


Now looking at a Natural Minor scale which is similar to our Major Scale apart from three notes. Our third, Sixth and Seventh, which are "flattened" meaning the note goes down by a semitone. For example, a C minor scale will look like this.

C- 1st/Root/Tonic

D- Second/ Supertonic.

E flat- Flattened Third.

F- Perfect Fourth/ Subdominant. 

G- Perfect Fifth/ Dominant. 

Ab- Flat Sixth.

Bb- Flat Seventh.

Diminished scale


Finally, we see a Diminished Scale. Our diminished scale is a slightly odd one. That is to say it is an octatonic scale meaning there are 8 notes in the scale as opposed to the seven we see in our major and minor scales. Therefore a C diminished scale looks like so:

C- D- E, flat- F- G,flat- A,flat- A natural- B. 

Triads in the major scale


Now, all of these triads are present in the major scale, and different triads fall on different degrees of the scale for instance, staying with our major scale:

C- Major Triad  (c,e,g.)

D- Minor Triad (d,f,a) 

E- Minor Triad (e,g,b)

F- Major Traid (f,a,c)

G- Major Triad (g,b,d)

A- Minor triad (a,c,e)

B- Diminished Triad. (b,d,f.)

Explained using the names of scale degrees


The example given here just uses C major scale, however this concept is applicable to all major scales. This is where our numbers/ alternative words for scale degrees become very useful. You could think about this as a formula that can be used to get a result. 

1/Root/Tonic- Major Triad

2nd/Supertonic- Minor Triad 

3rd/ Mediant- Minor Triad

4th/ Subdominant- Major Triad 

5th/ Dominant- Major Triad 

6th/ Submediant- Minor Triad

7th/Leading Tone- Diminished Triad.  

This is just an introduction to Triads. We've not even touched on other types of triads, inversions or triads on the diminished scale. Before we touch on those in a later blog however, try to get to grips with the major scale triads, including their unique sound and shapes on your instrument. 

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