Guitar Chords – Learn the Major and Minor Triads

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Chords form the backbone of most songs. Most musicians avoid sticking strictly to one major scale chord when creating songs; instead they will often mix and match different triads, so an understanding of chord theory is essential for any guitarist.

There are only 12 musical notes, so creating new chords may not be possible, but learning some of the more common ones will allow you to make your own arrangements and build them yourself. Let’s look at some of them that beginners may discover useful.

Major Triad

Triad chords are an essential foundational structure that can be found across any major scale. Although triads come in all sorts of different shapes, voicings and fingerings, all contain three notes – for instance a G7/#9 chord is just a major triad with root raised one octave and third reduced two steps from standard position.

Major triads, also referred to as major chords, are among the most prevalent triads. To build one from any scale degree starting point and adding the chord’s root note and two major thirds and one perfect fifth tone note as desired, start building from any major scale degree degree up.

As an illustration on the fretboard, imagine starting from note D (shown above). Draw a snowperson on the staff and add notes that fall a major third and perfect fifth above it – these intervals give this chord its major quality and create its vibrant sound; similarly a minor triad will have more melancholic tones due to its minor intervals.

Minor Triad

Minor triad chords consist of three notes. Their flattened fifth gives them an introspective sound, often associated with sorrowful themes or scenes; yet they seem less complete, resolved and bright than major triads; this perception however can vary depending on context and individual experience.

Any note in the scale may serve as the foundation of a triad. Triads built around do, re and sol are considered major; these are denoted with capital letters; while those composed around mi and la are minor (denoted with lowercase letters).

Minor triad chords are one of the most crucial chords to learn, as it can be utilized in many different contexts and songs. They provide plenty of bassline support in jazz settings. One popular technique involves using “triad pairs”, where two adjacent minor triads from diatonic scale are played adjacently before shifting them by an interval.

Minor Dominant Triad

Minor dominant triad is another essential chord to learn on the fretboard; similar to its major triad counterpart, but with minor third and flattened fifth tones. You may recognize its shape from songs or tabs written as C5 or Bb5.

This chord structure can also create some tension in progressions due to its strong dissonant interval between third and fifth strings – this leads to an unpleasant sound which needs to be soothed with other chords or modulating into another key.

Note that all of the triads we’ve discussed thus far are in root position – with their lowest note serving as their root, followed by middle tone and top tone – however many open chords don’t follow this structure and contain multiple combinations of triad shapes. Therefore, it is vital to gain an understanding of these different triad types and how they function together.

Major Dominant Triad

Major and minor triads sound cheerful and optimistic while minor triads have more melancholic and contemplative tones. Furthermore, we can use augmented and diminished triads to add extra shades to chord progressions.

To play a major closed triad on guitar, we can select any major scale note as its root note; however, its unique qualities will depend on the intervals between its root note, third note and fifth note; see chart for more info:

Drop 2 voicing, also referred to as an open chord, involves dropping the second highest note in a major closed triad up an octave – for example if there is a G in the bass it becomes known as a C open chord.

This chord can also be extended to create dominant ninth, eleventh and thirteenth chords (though the ‘dominant’ part is sometimes left off their names), each having one extra note which is two steps higher up the diatonic scale than it originally used when building the dominant seventh chord.