• If You Know Major Triads, You Can Figure Out Minor, Augmented, And Diminished Triads

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,General Music,Piano,Theory

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    It’s possible to figure out minor, augmented, and diminished triads and I’ll be showing you “how” in this lesson.

    Attention: This lesson is dedicated to beginners who have already started out with major triads but are finding it a bit difficult to learn other qualities of triads. Consequently, intermediate and advanced players may not benefit much from what we’re about to learn.

    There are four types of triads and just knowing the major triad accounts for 25% of the triads every serious musician should know and you still have to learn the 75% of triads remaining: minor, augmented, and diminished — which a lot of people find overwhelming.

    If you’re overwhelmed with the mental process of learning 75% of the triads that are commonly used in western music, then this lesson is for you. I’ll be showing you how you can use your knowledge of the major triad to learn other triad types.

    But before we do so, let’s refresh our minds on major triads.

    A Short Note On Major Triads

    The major triad is the 1-chord in the major key.

    In the key of C major:

    …the major chord consists of the first, third, and fifth tones of the C major scale:

    C (which is the first tone):

    E (which is the third tone):

    G (which is the fifth tone):

    Playing the first, third, and fifth tones of the major scale in any key produces the major triad.

    “Check Out All The Major Triads On The Keyboard…”

    C major triad:

    Db major triad:

    D major triad:

    Eb major triad:

    E major triad:

    F major triad:

    Gb major triad:

    G major triad:

    Ab major triad:

    A major triad:

    Bb major triad:

    B major triad:

    Using these major triads, you can figure out 75% of the triads every serious musician must know:

    Minor triads

    Augmented triads

    Diminished triads

    Let me show you how this works.

    Learning Other Triads In Association With The Major Triad

    Once you’re familiar with the major triad, every other triad — minor, augmented, and diminished — can be learned.

    Attention: This is similar to the Pareto principle where 20% accounts for 80%; just that in this case, it’s 25% accounting for 75%.

    Let’s go ahead and explore formulas that minor, augmented, and diminished chords can be derived with.

    Minor Triad – “1 – b3 – 5”

    The formula for the minor triad is “1-b3-5” and from its formula there are three tones in the minor triad: the first, flat third, and fifth tones of the major scale.

    Using the C major scale as a reference:

    …the first tone (which is C):

    …the flat third tone (which is Eb):

    …and the fifth tone (which is G):

    …produces the C minor triad (when played together):

    “Here’s A Shortcut…”

    Also, you can play the major triad and lower the third tone by a half-step.

    In the case of the C major triad:

    Lowering the third tone (which is E):

    …by a half-step (to Eb):

    …produces the C minor triad:

    Augmented Triad – “1 – 3 – #5”

    The formula of the augmented triad is “1-3-#5” and it can be used to form any augmented triad on the keyboard; as long as you’re familiar with the major triad and major scale of the key you’re in.

    Once the fifth tone of the major triad is raised by a half-step, the augmented triad is formed.

    “Here’s How It Works…”

    Using the C major triad:

    …you can form the C augmented triad by raising the fifth tone (which is G):

    …by a half-step (to G#):

    The C augmented triad:

    …consists of the following scale tones:

    The first tone (which is C):

    The third tone (which is E):

    The sharp fifth tone (which is G#):

    …and that justifies the formula for augmented triads: “1-3-#5”

    Diminished Triad – “1 – b3 – b5”

    The formula of the diminished triad — “1-b3-b5” — is just like that of the minor triad. But in this case, the third and fifth tones of the major triad are lowered by a half-step each.

    Lowering the third and fifth tones of the C major triad:

    …which are E and G:

    …by a half-step (to Eb and Gb) respectively:

    …produces the C diminished triad:

    So, the C diminished triad:

    …consists of the following tones:

    The first tone (which is C):

    The flat third tone (which is Eb):

    The flat fifth tone (which is Gb):

    …and applying the formula using any other major triad as a reference, the diminished triad can be formed.

    Final Words

    By associating the minor, augmented, and diminished triads with the major triad, you can easily form them on any key once you can remember the formula.

    Once again, it’s “1-b3-5” for the minor triad, “1-3-#5” for the augmented triad, and “1-b3-b5” for the diminished triad.

    All the best and 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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