A three note scale used to make melodies and chords
Beginner > Module 1.9

An easy way to think about triads is that they are little three note scales.  They are built from the first, third and fifth note of a scale. When we play them together we have a chord or harmony; we will soon be playing chords when we learn how to play double-stops.

As with other scales we’ve learned, I’ll point out where triads crop up in tunes. There’s a nice relationship between theory and practice. Practicing the triad will help you pick up tunes that use triads. On the other hand, you might find it more enjoyable to practice triads and other scales if you can see how they are connected to the music you play.

Start with a G major triad, which is G0-2-D0 (G-B-D):


Next play a D major triad, D0-2-A0 (D-F#-A0):


Do the same for A major triad, A0-2-E0 (A0-C#-E0).


Play the G major triad again. The upper octave is D3-A1-3, and the upper octave of the D major triad is A3-E1-3. So far so good? If you’re confused, here’s some advice: Don’t panic; just play it for awhile. Your ear will start to make the connections.

Triads have already cropped up in some tunes you’ve done.

D major in Oh Susannah: D0-1-2-A0-0-1-A0-D2-0

D major in Tobin’s Jig: A0-D2-A0-3-0-D2

G major in The Girl I Left Behind Me: EL2-1-0-A3-1-D3

To sum up, triads are useful for

  • Improving technique and coordination.
  • Learning tunes more quickly.
  • Building chords.
  • Improvising.
  • Impressing your friends and attractive people you meet at cocktail parties 🙂

Next Lesson > Triad Exercises
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