• Here’s How “The Fantastic Four” Are Classified According To Tonality

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Theory

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    Whenever you come across the term fantastic four, what comes to your mind?

    For a lot of people, the 2005 superhero movie comes to mind. But for musicians, the term fantastic four is used to describe the four common triad types: major, minor, augmented, and diminished.

    The use of the fantastic four to describe the four common triad types is attributed to my role-model and mentor — Jermaine Griggs, who is the founder of this site.

    The goal of this lesson is to show you how these fantastic four are classified according to tonality. But right before we go into all that, let’s take a look at these four chord types.

    A Short Note On The Fantastic Four

    A triad is a collection of three related notes (agreeable or not) which may be played or heard together. One of the most common triads in tonal music is the C major triad:

    …which consists of the following notes:

    C:

    E:

    G:

    …which are related by the C major scale:

    C, E, and G, are the first, third, and fifth tones of the C major scale.

    “Beyond The Major Triad Are Three Other Triad Qualities…”

    There are three other triad types and they are described using the following adjectives: minor, diminished, and augmented. Altogether with the major triad, there are four triad qualities:

    Major

    Minor

    Augmented

    Diminished

    “Check Them Out…”

    C major triad:

    C minor triad:

    C augmented triad:

    C diminished triad:

    These four main triad types are the fantastic four every musician should know.

    In a subsequent lesson, I’ll be showing you how to master these triads. But for the moment,let’s focus on how these triads are classified according to tonality.

    The Classification Of Triads According To Tonality

    There are two tonality types: the major and minor tonalities. The classification of triads according to tonality means we’re basically classifying all the four triad types into two broad categories:

    Major triads

    Minor triads

    “Please Give Me Your Undivided Attention…”

    What determines whether a triad is major or minor is the interval between its first and third tone. When the interval between the first and third tone of a triad is:

    1. a major third, then the triad is a major triad.

    2. a minor third, then the triad is a minor triad.

    Let’s go ahead and see how this works.

    The Major Triad

    The interval between the first and third tone of the major triad determines whether it’s a major or minor triad. Using the C major triad:

    …the interval between the first and third tones can be determined. From C to E:

    …is a major third interval, therefore, C, E, and G is a major triad.

    The Minor Triad

    Using the C minor triad as a reference:

    …the interval between the first and third tones (which are C and Eb):

    …is a minor third interval, therefore, C, Eb, and G is a minor triad.

    The Augmented Triad

    The interval between the first and third tone of the augmented triad determines whether it’s a major or minor triad. Using the C augmented triad:

    …the interval between the first and third tones can be determined. From C to E:

    …is a major third interval, therefore, C, E, and G# (the C augmented triad) is a major triad.

    The Diminished Triad

    Using the C diminished triad as a reference:

    …the interval between the first and third tones (which are C and Eb):

    …is a minor third interval, therefore, C, Eb, and Gb (the C diminished triad) is a minor triad.

    Final Words

    Major and augmented chords are basically classified as major chords while minor and diminished chords are minor chords.

    Don’t forget that the quality of a chord is determined by the distance between the first and third tone.

    The C major and C augmented triad:

    C major triad:

    C augmented triad:

    …share the same root and third (C-E):

    …while the C minor and diminished triad:

    C minor triad:

    C diminished triad:

    …have the same root and third (C-Eb):

    See you in the next lesson.

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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 the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Carolyn

    Thanks. V

    Reply

    2 Carolyn

    Thanks very good information. God bless you.

    Reply

    3 Caroline

    Thank you this is a good way of looking at triads and remembering them

    Reply

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