Global Bass Online October 2001
Triads~Your Care and Maintenance Manual
A triad is a three-note chord whose notes can be placed in consecutive major or minor thirds.
There are four triad types:
To spell out the notes of all four triad types in all keys, you must know the notes of the major scale in all keys. If you are unsure about major scale tones, check out the lesson on Major Scale Construction in the Aug/Sept 2001 issue of Global Bass. Remember, the major scale is the reference scale for the spelling of all chords, regardless of chord quality (major, minor, diminished or augmented).
Here is an example of the four triad types with the chord root D. Therefore the D major scale is the reference (D E F# G A B C#).
D = D F# A (1 3 5)
Dm, Dmin or D- = D F A (1 b3 5)
Ddim or D° = D F Ab (1 b3 b5)
Daug, D+ or D(#5) = D F# A# (1 3 #5)
Note how scale tones 1 3 5 are always somehow named in the chord spelling, even though scale tones 3 and 5 can be lowered or raised by a semitone.
Hey, what is this good for?! The bass is not only the rhythmic foundation, but also the harmonic foundation in most music genres. And that harmonic foundation can be expanded and enhanced by your knowledge of and ability to play the right chord tones at the right time.
Here is a suggestion to get you playing all four triad types fast and smooth in all keys:
Start with the C major triad, then move up the fingerboard chromatically to C#, D, D#, E etc. until you reach the octave. Then come back down. Do all twelve keys fast and non-stop up and down the board. (Upright bass players, you’ll have to think a little harder than bass guitarists, as the exercise is not quite as visual on the double bass.)
Then move up and down the fingerboard playing the major triad in whole-tone intervals, i.e. C, D, E, F#, G#, A#, C.
Then play the major triad in minor third intervals, i.e. C, Eb, Gb, A, C and back.
Next play the major triad in major third intervals, i.e. C, E, G#, C and back.
Whether you play the triads a semitone, a whole-tone, a minor third or a major third apart, they should all be the same speed. Watch the time/distance relationship: the farther distance should be executed at the same speed as the shorter distance.
Now do the same exercise sequence with the minor, diminished and augmented triads.
Until next time….Bass of Luck!
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