• Congratulations! You Too Can Master Primary Triads In All Inversions

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,Piano

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    Our focus in this lesson is on primary triads and how they can be mastered in all inversions.

    Attention: This lesson is designed for beginners who are just getting started with primary chords. Consequently, intermediate keyboard players may find this lesson way below their expectation.

    After this lesson, you’ll be able to comfortably play primary triads from any hand position on the keyboard, using the closest inversion possible.

    But before we go any further in this lesson, let’s refresh our minds on primary triads.

    A Quick Review On Primary Triads

    A triad is  a collection of three related notes (agreeable or not) which may be played or heard together.

    In the key of C major:

    …the formation of triads on every degree of the scale produces seven triads…

    The C major triad:

    The D minor triad:

    The E minor triad:

    The F major triad:

    The G major triad:

    The A minor triad:

    The B diminished triad:

    Three out of seven of these triads have the same quality (major quality) with the key and they are the C major, F major, and G major triads, which are the chords of the first, fourth, and fifth degrees.

    These major triads are known as primary triads because they define the key.

    The C major triad is formed on C:

    …the first tone (aka – “tonic”) of the C major scale :

    …and consists of C, E, and G:

    …which are the stable notes in the key of C. The C major triad is also known as the tonic triad because it is formed on the first degree of the scale (known to music scholars as the tonic.)

    The F major triad is formed on F:

    …which is the fourth tone of the C major scale:

    …and lies a fifth below the tonic triad. The F major triad is also known as the sub-dominant triad because it is formed on the fourth degree of the scale (which is also known as the sub-dominant.)

    The G major triad is formed on G:

    …which is the fifth tone of the C major scale:

    …and lies a fifth above the tonic triad. The G major triad is also known as the dominant triad because it is formed on the fifth degree of the scale (which is also known as the dominant.)

    “In A Nutshell…”

    Chords 1:

    …4:

    …and 5:

    …can be used to provide basic accompaniment to melodies in the key of C and that’s why most beginners start out with primary triads before eventually learning seventh and extended chords.

    Primary Triads From The Root Position Chord

    Primary triads can be played around the root position of the 1-chord. In the key of C major:

    …where the root position of the 1-chord is the C major triad (in root position):

    …other triads (the 4-chord and the 5-chord) can be derived using the voice-leading technique.

    The 1-chord (which is the root position of the C major triad):

    …progresses to the 4-chord (which is the second inversion of the F major triad):

    …or to the 5-chord (which is the first inversion of the G major triad):

    “Here Are The Primary Chords…”

    The 1-chord:

    The 4-chord:

    The 5-chord:

    Primary Triads From The First Inversion Chord

    When the hand is placed around the first inversion of the 1-chord in the key of C major:

    …where the first inversion of the 1-chord is the C major triad (in first inversion):

    …other triads (the 4-chord and the 5-chord) can be derived using the voice-leading technique.

    The 1-chord (which is the first inversion of the C major triad):

    …progresses to the 4-chord (which is the root position of the F major triad):

    …or to the 5-chord (which is the second inversion of the G major triad):

    “Here Are The Primary Chords…”

    The 1-chord:

    The 4-chord:

    The 5-chord:

    Primary Triads From The Second Inversion Chord

    Primary triads can be played around the second inversion of the 1-chord. In the key of C major:

    …where the second inversion of the 1-chord is the C major triad (in second inversion):

    …other triads (the 4-chord and the 5-chord) can be derived using the voice-leading technique.

    The 1-chord (which is the second inversion of the C major triad):

    …progresses to the 4-chord (which is the first inversion of the F major triad):

    …or to the 5-chord (which is the root position of the G major triad):

    “Here Are The Primary Chords…”

    The 1-chord:

    The 4-chord:

    The 5-chord:

    Final Words

    Primary triads are important because they are used to accompany melodies/songs. Therefore mastering how they can be played from all hand positions is vital.

    It is recommended that after practicing these hand positions of primary triads in the key of C major, that you transpose to other keys as well.

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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