Major Chords and Triads

Major chords form the basis for many songs and are usually one of the first chords a guitarist learns. Major scale chords consist of triads composed of the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of any given major scale arranged as triads.

Each major scale features its own signature sequence of triads; for instance, if you move up one major second from C you will arrive at E.


Triads are the foundational elements of major chords. Each triad consists of the root note, major third note and perfect fifth from its related scale, but can take various voicing forms; for instance, a C major triad could still be considered major when constructed as either C-E-G or C-F-G; these variations simply alter where notes are placed within its vertical order without changing its quality or character.

As part of creating triads, the initial step should be identifying note intervals used within each. To do so, referring to the complete Note Interval Table can help identify any intervals present between root note and each note within a triad. Assuming we’re using the G major scale as an example, the first triad would be created by taking its root note as well as every other note in its scale until three notes, G B D are formed. Once this information has been acquired, its next step would be assessing their quality. Start by identifying the interval between the third and fourth notes of your triad using the note interval table to find their distance apart; in doing so, major third triads have major intervals while those with minor distance between these notes form minor ones.

Similar to the interval between fifth and sixth notes of a triad, another simple way of recognizing it is counting semitones / half-tones from its root chord to each note – this results in perfect fifth triads having an equal interval between fifth and sixth notes while diminished fifth ones must be reduced by one semitone / half-tone from major chords before becoming diminished triads.

Once you have determined the intervals between chords, the last step should be writing them down with their appropriate names and symbols. Be sure to include any key signatures if necessary and know about inversions: for instance if a chord features lower-voiced seventh or fifth voices it could be considered either first or second inversion respectively.

Noteworthy is the fact that triads can be identified regardless of their close or open spacing, thanks to octave equivalence principle which asserts that identification doesn’t depend on doubled notes or open spacing. However, when played with an augmented or diminished fifth bass note it must be written out correctly in its appropriate voicing in order for proper identification; see diagram.


A seventh chord adds an additional note that’s an interval of a major third (11 half-tone steps) above the root note of the triad, known as its third note, fourth note, fifth note, seventh note or seventh chord. These four notes make up what are known as its root, third, fifth and seventh note triads; their seventh chord can then be classified as major, minor diminished or augmented chords.

Due to their large seventh intervals, seventh chords can sound dissonant initially; however, as you become more used to them you’ll discover they create tension and drama. At first sight they may appear unlike any triad you know; but with continued practice the dissonance will eventually subside and it will feel more natural in your hands.

Major and minor seventh chords are two of the most widely known seventh chords, both created from major triads with major sevenths above their roots. Most textbooks refer to them by name; for example, one composed of C major triads with B major sevenths above is commonly referred to as Cmaj7 chord.

One way of classifying seventh chords is based on their color. Major and minor sevenths both arise from major triads, yet possess very distinct aesthetic qualities: major sevenths are bright while minor sevenths tend to have darker tones.

Students often ask if they require new chord shapes for major and minor scales. You typically can use the diatonic chord shapes that you learned for major scales to play major and minor seventh chords by shifting over their numbers in your mind.

Sometimes a seventh chord that doesn’t fall neatly into either major or minor category will be used, often known as an “augmented chord.” To categorize these, knowledge of chromatic scale intervals and stacking major and minor thirds to form such chords is essential in creating them.

Some seventh chords can also be used in a progression; for instance, Bacharach and David’s Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head begins with a major triad before transitioning into a major seventh in measure two of this song’s first verse – this chord progression is often found in jazz and other forms of contemporary music.

Diminished seventh chords are similar to major sevenths, but feature a flat instead of sharp seventh. This variation gives off more bluesy overtones and has long been used in ragtime music as well as country and blues music. Understanding these chord types will enable you to incorporate them into your own music; changing their order could alter its feeling or mood entirely if playing with other musicians – experiment with various combinations of triads and sevenths until you find something that feels best!