Triads are an amazing resource to add to your solos and a great way to add some color to your lines and create strong melodies.
In this video, I am going to show you not only what triads you can use on a m7 chord but also some great strategies for making lines with them.
Finding Triads for the chord
First, let’s look at the triads that are available. That is also a great way to use a little theory and then I will go over some ways to use the triads and some chromatic and voicing tricks. Keep in mind that analyzing like this works for pretty much any chord in any scale.
For this video, I am going to use an Am7 chord as it is found in the G major scale.
G A B C D E F# G
The basic arpeggio is
A C E G
In the arpeggio, you already have Am – A C E and C major C E G
And we can find triads that are related to the chord by stacking on top of the arpeggio:
A C E G B D
which gives us an Em and a G major triad
So now we have Am, C, Em and G triads for the chord and can start working on some different ways to use them like diatonic and chromatic passing chords, triad pairs and spread triads.
Basic triad from the 3rd
The example below is using the C major triad over the Am7. This triad is a very strong choice on the chord.
It’s good to start with a basic triad, in this case, the triad from the 3rd of the chord: C major. Another way to see how this is a very clear sound is to notice that it is the top part of this chord:
A Difficult Triad and a Trick
The G major triad is a little tricky on the Am7 because we can easily lose the connection to the sound of the chord, with only the b7 as a basic chord tone.
One way to deal with that is to use the G major triad in a line where it is combined with the 3rd of the chord C, to make that connection a little stronger.
A modified version of something that I have come across with both Chris Potter and Michael Brecker: A G major triad + a low C which becomes a sort of a quintal maj7 arpeggio
Diatonic Passing Chords
Since you are looking at the triads as a part of a scale you can use that when you make lines as well. The triads that we like to use are a 3rd apart, but that means that between two triads that are closely related to the chord you will have one that you can use as a passing chord.
An easy way to practice these is to go over the diatonic triads on a string set like this:
The example below starts with a C major triad and then moves via a Bm triad to an Am triad. So here I am using the Bm triad as a diatonic passing chord.
Chromatic Passing Chords
You probably already know how it works to have a chromatic approach note in a line:
so and you can do the same with enclosures like this
but you can use this with an entire triad as well, and that is what I am doing in the example below. Here I am using a Db major triad to approach a C major triad. This is a little more difficult to make lines with but it is a nice thing to have in your vocabulary for a little variation.
You can look at Spread Triads as being the Drop2 version of triads.
If you take a 2nd inversion Am triad like this: and then move the 2nd highest note down an octave then you get this: Am
Spread triads are also a great way to practice alternate picking and string skipping:
The Spread or Open-voiced triads are great for introducing larger intervals
A triad pair is a set of triads without common notes. In a major scale that means that it is two triads next to each other (you can chew on that a bit if you want to figure it out)
For an Am7 chord then Am and G form a great triad pair spelling out the notes of an Am7(9,11) A C E + G B D
And you can use that in a line like this:
Use the triads on these Jazz Standards
I talk about this quite often: The way you really learn something is by using it on songs in your real playing. This is as important as practicing scales and arpeggios.
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