Tag Archives: guitar triads

Triads – How To Use This Powerful Tool In Your Jazz Solos

Every arpeggio is a melody and Triads is a great very strong melodic building block you can use in your Jazz solos. In this lesson, I will show you:

You will learn how to:

  • Find Triads for Chords
  • Exercises to play them
  • How to use them as Odd-Note groupings, strong melodies and outside material

Let’s first look at how to find triads and then what to practice and how to use them going from diatonic to a little outside stuff as well.

The examples of lines using the triads are all on a static or modal Dm7.

Finding Triads – Analyzing Chords For Solo Material


This is really simple if you know a little theory. You only need to know the notes in the chords and the scale they are found diatonic to.

The basic way to look at this: II V I in C major – Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

The scale: is C major: C D E F G A B C

Dm7: D F A C

G7: G B D F

Cmaj7: C E G B

For each chord we can find a triad from the root, so Dm for Dm7 and from the 3rd of the chord. For the Dm7 that is F A C which spells out an F major triad.

By adding extensions and looking at the available triads you can construct this overview:

The available triads are:

Dm7: Dm, F, Am, C

G7: G, Bdim, Dm, F

Cmaj7: C,Em,G

What Should You Practice – Solid Triad Exercises

Now you can find the triads but you also need to be able to use them in your playing and for that, you need to have them as flexible sets of notes, so basically you want to be able to play triads in as many ways as possible.

You can try out these exercises, don’t focus on speed just on being able to play them in tempo with a good tone and technique, then you can use them in your playing.

Some of the triad exercises I play in the video are:

Diatonic triads

Triad arpeggios in Position

Across the neck (showing F major and G major triads)

Inversions on string sets

3-1-5 Pattern in the scale

Across the neck in a skipping pattern

You can check out more exercises in this Triads Lesson

or this lesson on a Blues Solo with only Triads

Making Lines – Using Triads In Solos

Whether it is Charlie Parker, Pat Metheny or Julian Lage, they all use triads as a part of their solo vocabulary. These 3 examples will give you some different ways to use them in solos.

Odd-note groupings and cascading triads

This lick starts with a chromatic enclosure and from the continues with cascading triads.

In this example, I use the F major, Am, and C major triads as 3-note groupings. The melody works because I am stacking the triads in 3rds to connect them.

Open-Voiced/Spread Triads

The 2nd lick is combining Dm, F major, and C major triads.

Dm in a standard root position followed by the open-voiced F major triad in bar 2, and finally the C major triad in 2nd inversion played in a pattern.

Outside Chromatic Triads

Another interesting way to use triads on a static chord is to use them as chromatic structures and approaches, similar to how you would use chromatic passing chords

In the example below you have the melody moving from Dm triad to Db major to C major triads.

An example of this in a Kurt Rosenwinkel solo on All or Nothing At All is shown below:

Kurt plays this at the beginning of his solo off the East Coast Love Affair album.

An equally powerful solo tool on Lady Bird

You can also purchase this lesson at a reduced price as a part of the Easy Jazz Standards Bundle

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How To Use The Augmented Triad In A Jazz Blues Solo

The augmented triad is a great and very distinct sound to add to your playing. In this video I am going show you a solo on a 12 bar blues where I am using this triad on most of the chords. I am going to analyze it and talk about where I am using it and what kind of sound the augmented triad adds to the chords.

Having many sounds and ideas is really important to create solos that don’t always sound the same and using the augmented triad is a great way to do that. You will find that a lot of players like Kurt Rosenwinkel and Sonny Rollins often use this triad in their playing.

The Augmented Triad

The augmented triad is a major triad with a raised 5th, so if you look at a Bb augemented triad:

Bb major: Bb D F,

Bb augmented: Bb D F#

Augmented triad symmetry

The triad is a stack of major thirds: Bb-D and D-F#. F#-Bb would be another major third. This is really useful because symmetrical arpeggios can easily be transposed and will be have the same fingering along the neck.

If you want to practice the Bb augmented triads then these two positions will already get you pretty far.

Augmented Triads in the Diatonic Triads

Since the main example in this lesson is a blues chorus in the key of Bb, then it probably makes the most sense to use Bb lydian b7 or F melodic minor as an example of a scale that contains an augmented triad.

Here is an overview of the diatonic triads in F melodic minor:

Fm,Gm,Abaug,Bb,C,Ddim,Edim

7 ways to use an Augmented Triad – The Bb Blues Example

The example below is a one chorus blues solo where I use the augmented triad in different ways through out the chorus.

The first two bars are just there to state the changes and the blues. playing clear lines.

The line in bars 3-4 starts with a triad pair with an augmented triad. The sound is a Bb7(#11) or Bb lydian b7. The triad pair I am using is Abaug and Bb triads. The triad pairs with the augmented triads are really colorful and a great sound on a dom7th chord.

In bar 4 I am changing the chord to an altered dominant. This means using B melodic minor, which contains the D augmented triad. Here it is used in the 1st inversion.

The next example of an augmented triad is in bar 6 on the Ab7 chord. Here the scale sound is Eb minor melodic and the triad used is a Gb augmented triad. 

The G7alt pointing towards the Cm7 in bar 9 also makes use of an augmented triad. Here it is a B augmented triad out of the G altered or Ab melodic minor.

A little Dorian Hack

Even though the Cm7 in the II V I in Bb does not really have a scale with an augmented triad you can still use one in the way that I am doing here. The idea is to use the G augmented triad as a sort of leading note structure, almost like a G7. 

The F7alt has an A augmented triad, diatonic to F altered or Gb melodic minor. Here I am playing it from the F.

Whole-tone scale

The final turnaround is here a bar of Bb7 followed by a bar of F7. The F7 is in this case an F7 from the whole tone scale. The entire lick in bar 12 is based on moving  triads up in whole steps. The triads are displaced a bit to make them sound a little more interesting.

If you want more ideas for soloing on a Bb jazz blues then check out this lesson:

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How to Use augmented triads in a jazz blues solo

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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