Short, to-the-point, and easy-to-understand classical music composer biography on Claude Debussy provided by Five Minute Mozart.

Understanding Triads (Chords)

Run time: 4m 59s  |  Release Date: June 18th, 2012

In this video lesson we’re going to talk about the construction of triads built off of each scale degree of a Major scale. If you aren’t familiar with Major scale, please visit our last video before proceeding.

A triad is a very basic chord consisting of three different notes played simultaneously. There are three different types of triads which we are going to discuss in this video - a Major triad, a minor triad, and a diminished triad. However, regardless of which one we are talking about, to construct any triad add a third and a fifth above a given note.

Now, there are two different types of thirds and two different types of fifths we are used when constructing triads. The first type of third we’ll need to know about is called a Major third. A Major third is constructed by adding two consecutive whole steps above or below a given note. For example, knowing that C to D is a whole step, and D to E is also a whole step, then C to E having been two consecutive whole steps  is a Major third.

The second type of third is a minor third. A minor third is constructed by adding a half step and a whole step above or below a given note. Again, knowing that E to F is a half step, and F to G is a whole step, then E to G having been a half step followed by a whole step is therefore a minor third.

On now to fifths. The first type of fifth that we need to know about is a Perfect fifth. A Perfect fifth fifth is constructed by adding a Major third and a minor third above or below a given note. We just learned that C to E is a Major third, and E to G is a minor third. Therefore, C to G, having been a Major third followed by a minor third is a Perfect fifth.

The second type of fifth is known as a diminished fifth. A diminished fifth is constructed by adding two consecutive minor thirds above or below a given note. Again, if we know that B to D is a minor third, and D to F is also a minor third, then B to F, having been two consecutive minor third is therefore a diminished fifth.

It’s worth mentioning that another even easier way of thinking about diminished fifths is that they are the same as perfect fifths just lowered by one half steps.

In order to better understand Major and minor thirds, and Perfect and diminished fifths, go to FiveMinuteMozart.com to download free practice sheets containing tons of examples and exercises.

Now that we know about all of the thirds and fifths that we need, let’s start putting together our triads. The first type of triads is called a Major triad. A Major triad is formed by adding a Major third and a Perfect fifth above the same note.

Let’s put this into perspective. Here’s C. Adding a major third, E, and a Perfect fifth, G, above the note C, which in this case is also known as the root, we get a C Major triad.

Now, the point of this video is to learn how to construct triads out of each note of a Major scale. Being that we’ve just figured out a C Major triad, let’s take a look at the notes of a C Major scale. Like we’ve just discovered, the first note of a C Major scale, C, is the root of a C Major triad. There are two other notes of a C Major scale which are also the notes of Major triads. The first one is F. By adding a Major third and a Perfect fifth above the note F, and making sure that I only use notes which are found within the C Major scale, in this case A and C, I end up with an F Major triad.

The second note is G. By adding a Major third and a Perfect fifth above the note G, B and D, I end up with a G Major triad.

The next type of triad that we need to know about is a minor triad. A minor triad is formed by adding a minor third and a Perfect fifth above the same note.

Here is the note D. By adding a minor third, F, and a Perfect fifth, A, above the note D we get a D minor triad. The other two notes of a C Major scale which are the roots of minor triads are E and A.

The last triad we need to know about is called a diminished triad. A diminished triad is formed by adding a minor third and a diminished fifth above the same note. Here’s the note B. We already know that the note D is a minor third away from B, and F is a diminished F away. By playing these three notes simultaneously we’ll be playing a B diminished triad.

There you have it, all of the triads built off of each note of a Major scale. Although in this video we used the C Major scale, the same thing can be applied to any Major scale. Triads built off of the fifth, fourth, and fifth notes of any Major scale will always be Major triads. Triads built off of the second, third, and sixth notes of any Major scale will always be minor triads. And a triad built of off the seventh note of any Major scale will always be diminished.

This concludes the video lesson series of Five Minute Mozart Level 1. Don’t forget to check out FiveMinuteMozart.com for free helpful practice sheets and more in-depth explanations of everything discussed in every video.

 

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15 - Inversions.png

In this video we are going to discuss the different ways in which the notes of a chord can be rearranged. However before we get started it is important to mention that some people often confuse the identity of a chord with the shape that it takes on their instrument. Rather, a chord is more accurately identified by the notes which are being played.
For example, the notes of a triad are derived from the first, third, and fifth scale degrees of a corresponding Major or minor scale. Looking at the notes of a C Major scale we can see that the letter names which compose a C Major triad are C, E, and G. However even if these letter names were to be rearranged, so long as the notes C, E, and G are still being played it is still considered to be a C Major triad.