• 5 dyads you can put to work for you right away!

    in Chords & Progressions

    As you know from this past lesson, a dyad is a 2-note combination.

    People still debate over whether it should officially be called a “chord” or if it’s just an interval. (Those who want to keep it just an “interval” believe that chords start at three or more notes).

    But who cares what you think of them as — they can enhance your playing! :-)

    This post can’t be too long because I need to get back on the freeway down to Long Beach. My grandma is still in the hospital and when it seems like she is recovering, something else happens to knock us backward. Pray for her.

    So here are my top 5 favorite dyads to play…

    1) Power chords

    I talked about “power chords” in this previous lesson.

    They are intervals that span a fifth. An example of a power chord is from “C” to “G.”

    You can use them to power up most chords because if you think about, they all possess that perfect fifth interval (except for diminished and augmented chords).

    When playing extended chords like sevenths, ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths, some people use power chords on their left, therefore, freeing up their right hand to focus on the upper tones in the chord.

    2) Tritone

    You can find extensive information on tritones in these two lessons.

    I call them the little cousin of the power chord.

    If you know your power chords and can lower your fifth tone a half step, then you know your tritones! That’s all they are!

    They are an interval of a flatted fifth. So instead of playing “C” to “G,” you play “C” to “Gb.”

    These are also found in dominant 7 chords. For example, a C dominant 7 chord has these notes: C + E + G + Bb. Do you notice the tritone from “E” to “Bb?” (Don’t worry, over time you’ll start recognizing them quickly).

    Try experimenting with certain tritones on your left hand and various dominant, major, and even minor chords on your right hand. You’ll be amazed at what you come up with.

    3) Ditone

    I remember a few years back when gospel musicians started throwing this “fancy” word around. LOL :-)

    It’s basically the Greek way to say “major third.”

    But I like the use of “ditone” because it relates it to the tritone, which has a similar function.

    Basically, ditones have 2 whole steps between them. “C” to “E” is an example of a ditone.

    Tritones” are their bigger sisters (they have 3 whole steps between them).

    Essentially, anywhere you play a tritone, try its little brother and you’ll get a different feel.

    In fact, you can combine them: C + E + Bb

    Notice the ditone between “C” and “E” and the tritone between “E” and “Bb.”

    (I know… I know… looks like a dominant 7 chord to me too! But there are little nuances like this that make all the difference.)

    Like this chord…

    C aug 7 (#9)

    …you can easily voice this chord a million different ways but notice the use of the ditone at the bottom — then the tritone interval between the “E” and “Bb” — and even the use of a quartal chord up top. See this past lesson for more info on quartal chords.

    4) Major 7 interval

    Sometimes, you don’t want a power chord on your left. Like when you’re playing some type of extended major chord (major 9, major 11, etc), maybe you just want to play “C” and the higher “B” on your left hand and the rest of your chord on the right hand.

    This lesson from last month really illustrates what I’m talking about.

    But the idea is to try it any time an extended major chord is necessary.

    5) “b7” interval

    The last dyad you should get used to is the b7 interval. It’s basically the same as the major 7 interval, except you lower the 7th a half step. So instead of “C + B,” you’ll play “C + Bb.”

    You’d use this one just like the tritone and ditone… same function.

    Notice on the chord above that “C to Bb” is the outer shell that results from putting a ditone “C + E” together with a tritone “E + Bb.” Similar to the major 7 interval, you’d simply play a b7 interval when you want to use less notes and keep the sound open.

    Exercise: What other usages can you find for these dyads? Let’s make a list!

    Until next time —

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    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

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    { 5 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Bill

    Like your last two lessons that are in the form of a list. Helps me to organize the concepts.

    Sorry to hear about your grandma. I will keep her in my prayers.



    2 Charles

    Very very fitting lesson.


    3 Missie

    I’ve never heard of a dyad and ditone before coming to this blog. But I guess music is filled with so many surprises !!!





    F + Eb/ A + Db +Ab


    5 Jermaine

    Appreciate it Tru!


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