This guide will answer what are Triads in music, explain the different types of triads, how they are used, and how to use them in music production.
What Are Triads in Music?
Triads are one of the most common types of chords used in music. A triad is made of a combination of three notes that can be stacked vertically in thirds. A root is the lowest note in a triad. While the middle note is called a third. And the last highest note is called the fifth.
This post covers:
- What Are Triads in Music
- What Is An Example of A Triad
- What Are The 4 Types Of Triads
- Are Triads The Same As Chords
- What Are The 3 Parts Of A Triad
- What Are Triads Used For
- How Do You Identify Triads In Music
- How Do I Learn Triads
What Are Triads in Music?
In simple words, a triad is a three-note chord. The bottom note is called a root, while the middle note is called the third, and the top note is called the fifth.
To understand a triad, you can think of it as a tree, and the root of three is like the root of a triad. The root plays an important role in carrying the voicing of a chord, and the chords carry the letter name of any root note.
The second note in a triad is termed the third, and it is called a third because it is exactly the third interval away from the root of a chord.
The third of a chord is also important in forming triad chords because the quality of the third determines whether the chord is a major chord or a minor chord.
A chord is termed a minor triad if there’s a minor third interval between the root note and the third. At the same time, a chord is called a major third if there’s a third major interval between the root note or the third.
In a triad, the third and last note is nothing but what we called as the fifth. Since it is a fifth interval from the root note, we call it the fifth.
As we put all the root notes, the third and the fifth, we get our triad ready. It is important to remember that triads are made up of intervals, they are affected by quality.
The first, third, and fifth intervals are the number of notes that make up the triad. But the voicing of the triad is changed by the interval quality of each note.
What Is An Example of A Triad?
For example, let’s say you want to build a C major triad. Then first, you’ll have to consider the root note, which will be the C, then (imagine a piano keyboard) 4 half steps so you will land on the E note. After that, again count 3 half steps, and you’ll land on the G note.
So in this way, you get the C-E-G as the C Major.
The second way to form a major triad is to take the first, major third, and fifth notes from a major scale.
Let’s say you want to build F major chord. Then you first consider the key signature for an F major. Then you would write the triad on the staff, considering the F as your root position, which would make the F Major Chord.
What Are The 4 Types Of Triads?
Here are the 4 types of triads in music:
#1. Major Triads
A major triad is made up of the following three notes:
- Root Note
- A Major Third above the Root Note
- A Perfect Fifth above the Root Note
There are two ways to build a major triad. Let’s first discuss the Half-step counting process. Using this process, you have to count half steps using notes to build a major triad and also consider the following formula:
Root Position note + 4 Half steps + 3 Half steps
#2. Minor Triads
A minor triad includes the following:
- A root
- A minor third above the root
- A perfect fifth above the root
Considering the half step counting process, the formula would be like this:
Root position + 3 half steps + 4 half steps
And considering the second way, you have to take the first, the minor or flat third, and fifth intervals from a major scale.
#3. Augmented Triads
An augmented triad is like having a stack of major intervals and four intervals between each interval. For example, if you want to form a C augmented triad, then consider this formula:
Root Position + 4 half steps + 4 half steps
So the C augmented will be formed like this C-E-G#
#4. Diminished Triads
A diminished triad is just like having a stack of minor intervals with three half steps between each interval. The formula would be like this:
Root Position + 3 half steps + 3 half steps
Are Triads The Same As Chords?
A triad is a type of chord. Remember the difference between triads and chords, and it can be thought like this: All triads are chords, but not all chords are necessarily triads.
A triad is a 3 note chord that is built on the thirds. At the same time, a chord means when two or more notes are played together simultaneously.
What Are The 3 Parts Of A Triad?
A triad is made of 3 notes as follows:
- A root note
- A third
- A fifth
Note that a triad can be stacked, so its notes are all on the spaces or all on the lines.
What Are Triads Used For?
Triads are the basis of tonal harmony in music, and they are a type of chords. Whether it is a sheet musician or those who play by ear, all use triads, used in all musical backgrounds.
How Do You Identify Triads In Music?
A triad is nothing but a chord made up of a collection of three notes that are arranged as thirds.
To determine whether a three-note chord is a triad or not, just arrange the three notes on the circle of thirds. Remember that the pitch class of a third will always sit next to each other.
How Do I Learn Triads?
Summary of Triads in Music
Triads are one of the most commonly used chord types. A triad is composed of three notes stacked vertically in thirds. To describe the notes of a triad, the lowest note is called the root, while the middle note is called the third. And the last highest note is called the fifth.
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