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Chords: triads

September 10, 2011

The sort of chords which most familiar music uses are what is known as triads.  This name could refer to their having three pitches, but more importantly, it signifies that they are made of notes which are a third apart.   The lowest pitch of a triad is known as the root, and the others as the third and the fifth on account of their distance from the root

Triads come in four kinds, which are defined as follows: 

1. Major: root + major third + perfect fifth 

2. Minor: root + minor third + perfect fifth

3. Diminished: root + minor third and diminished fifth (both smaller intervals)

4. Augmented: root + major third and augmented fifth (both larger intervals)

  For learning to recognize these triads by ear, I think of them so:

Note how all of these triads are made of notes a third apart on the staff; this is the correct way to spell them. 

Finally, here are some random chords based on other intervals (fifths, fourths, and seconds): 


Coming up next: inversions or an introduction to Roman numeral analysis or an introduction to voicing or the harmonic series …. it is hard to decide among such delightful topics.

From → Harmony, Music Theory

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