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Triads are three-note chord. A triad is constructed by taking any note (called the root note) and adding two further notes above it. The first note added will be a third above the root and is therefore called the third. If this note is a minor third from the root the triad will be a minor chord. If it is a major third above the root it will be a major chord (see exceptions below). The second note to be added is a (usually) perfect fifth from the root.


N.B. The third and fifth in a triad are the intervals from the root note of the triad and should not be confused with the third and fifth notes of the scale. The only place where these will correspond is in a triad on the key note of the scale.


Other triads can be constructed but these are less used. If a major third and an augmented fifth is used the triad is an augmented chord. If a minor third and a diminished fifth are used the chord is diminished.


Fig. 1   C      D       E       F        G      A       B
1      2        3       4         5       6       7

Figure 1 shows the c major scale. Each scale degree can be referred to by number.

Fig. 2

Figure 2 shows naturally occuring thirds built on each scale degree. Use of the word naturally here refers to the fact that the notes all come from the scale they are built upon.

Fig. 3   C      D       E       F       G        A       B
I       ii        iii      IV      V        vi       vii

Figure 3 shows naturally occuring triads built on each scale degree . Simply another stacking of a naturally occuring third on top of the first stacking of a naturally occuring third (shown inFigure 2 ). Each triad can be referred to by a number (e.g. one chord, two chord, three chord, etc.), in this case roman numerals are commonly used. Note that triads are chords (three note chords [four note chords are not triads]).



When building triads on a major scale:

  • I-chords are ALWAYS MAJOR
  • ii-chords are ALWAYS MINOR
  • iii-chords are ALWAYS MINOR
  • IV-chords are ALWAYS MAJOR
  • V-chords are ALWAYS MAJOR
  • vi-chords are ALWAYS MINOR
  • vii-chords are ALWAYS DIMINISHED


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