Understanding how triads and other chords are built

10 Nov

How to analyze triads and more advanced chords?

The starting point is the major triad, in the example in C major, but this concept is valid for all keys, as usual.

The C major chord is built with these three notes:

C  E  G

As we said this triad is built with the Root (C) the 3rd (E) and the 5th (G) of the major scale. Also, if we calculate the intervals between the Root and the other two notes we notice that there is an interval of a major 3rd between C and E and of a perfect 5th between C and G.

So if I wanted to write a formula for the major triad I would write

C   E  G

1   3   5 (Root-Major third-Perfect fifth)

If now we want to find the chord C minor all we have to do is lower the 3rd of the chord (E is lowered to Eb)

So now the triad for C minor is

C  Eb  G

1  b3  5 (Notice how the formula changes Root –Minor Thirds – Perfect fifth)

From this I can tell that the difference between a major and minor chord is in the 3rd.

The diminished and augmented triads can be told from the 5th.

If C major is C E G

C augmented is    C  E   G# (I have raised the 5th of a halfstep)

Formula             1   3   #5

C diminished is     C  Eb Gb (a minor triad with the flattened 5th)

Formula             1   b3  b5

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Gianni Chiarello has gained a reputation as an extremely versatile musician, having professional credits as a guitarist, bassist, arranger and producer. His music is a preconception-free mix of Jazz, Funk, Blues, R&B and contemporary elements, influenced by . Born in Italy, in his forming years he performed with some of his country's finest musicians working towards developing different styles, from rock to pop, funk and jazz. In 1999 he moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music, on a scholarship program, where he graduated with a Degree "Magna cum laude" in Professional Music, studying under the direction of Mick Goodrick, Hal Crook, Brett Willmott and Dave Samuels, also playing in the Boston area and along the States' east coast as a freelance musician. Alongside studio work, he has been performing with, and leading as Musical Director, numerous bands and orchestras, comping for celebrities from the sixties like The Platters, The Coasters, Bobby Arvon, The Diamonds, Vegas – Broadway entertainers like Tony Tillman, Kenny James, Hal Fraiser, Lorna Luft, Ben Vereen, Susan Anton and Roy Walker. Furthermore his work entailed musical theatre style production reviews, encompassing shows such as “Smokey Joe’s Café”, “We Will Rock You”, “Starlight Express”, “Grease” and “Rent”. After relocating to the UK in 2005, has performed, amongst others with Robbie McIntosh (John Mayer, Paul Mccartney) Jeremy Stacey (Tom Jones, Sheryl Crow), Jason Rebello (Sting, Jeff Beck), Iain Ballamy and many others. His latest instructional eBooks can now be purchased online: “Contemporary solo guitar” (2008) and “Contemporary blues soloing” (2009) “Contemporary Blues Chords and Comping” (2011)

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  1. Pingback: Most used 7th guitar chord shapes | TrueGuitarist.com Free Video Guitar Lessons

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