Tag Archives: triads exercise guitar

Triads – You Are Missing 3 Skills In Getting The Most Out Of Them

Triads are essential building blocks in the strongest solos and melodies, and you want to make sure that you not to miss some of the great ways they can be put to use.

You already know that even though Jazz is mostly using chords with a lot of notes and extensions then triad melodies are still incredibly strong and something that should be a core part of your playing.

It doesn’t matter if you look at a Parker Lick – Parker Billie’s bounce lick

Or classical music – Mozart or Beethoven

The triads are always in there and they should be in your playing as well.

Getting Your Triad Practice Right

There are probably two ways that you are practicing triads:

In positions, playing the triad across a position, hopefully visualizing or keeping in mind what scale it is found in (voice-over)

The other way that you want to practice triads is by playing diatonic triads

This exercise will help you find all the triads in the scale and give you an overview of the harmony.

Both of these are great ways to work on the material, but not directly help you use them in solos and what is more important: a lot of very useful triad melodies are also left out, so let’s fix that.

Practice All The Melodies

One of the most common triad melodies both in Bebop themes and solos is the 2nd inversion triad. You have clear examples of this in Anthropology.

or Blue Bird :

And the 1st inversion major triad is also great for solo lines like this:

So if you are not practicing those then you are leaving A LOT of great melodies out of your vocabulary.

It is not that difficult to get used to playing the inversion so that you can start incorporating them into your playing, and actually it is also a great exercise for your ear, and the connection between what you hear and what you play.

Incorporating the inversion into a triad position would mean playing it like this:

But working through the triad inversions in a scale position is a great exercise for quite a few things:

So of course, just playing these is already giving helping you be more flexible with what you can play in the scale, but it is also introducing some string skipping,

but maybe the most useful part of the exercise is that you take a predictable 3-note melody and then try to play that through the scale.

When I start working on this then I am not really thinking about which notes or which triad I am playing, as much as I am hearing a melody and then hearing it move up through the scale. This may sound a bit vague, but it is actually a great exercise that will help you become better at playing melodies by ear. If you have never tried this before then take 3rds through a scale, and notice how your ear will tell you if you are playing the right notes or not.

Now that you know the triad and the inversions then you want to start getting this into your playing.

The Power Of Simplicity

An important part of how we use triads in Jazz is as upper structures, mainly because it ties together extensions in a strong sound and make the chord or melody make more sense, similar to this line and I will talk about how you can use triads like this later in the video, but this is not the strongest melodic tool when it comes to triads.

The first thing you want to do is to become better at making lines based on the basic triads and then really get good at using those in a creative way so that your skills are already in place when you move up into the thin air of more tricky extensions.

If you think about the Charlie Parker Lick from Billie’s Bounce that I used in the beginning then that is using an F major triad over an F7. Another way that Parker uses the F major triad is in the opening of the solo:

So, as you can see, it really pays off to start making lines that are using the basic root triad and also do more than just play it up and down, but use it as a skeleton for the melody you want to play.

For example, you can use scale notes as passing notes as I do on the Dm7 and the Cmaj7 here:

And because the triad is such a strong melody then you can also change the order of the notes and skip around more, as I do on the Dm7 here:

So if you find something that works, like the Dm triad melody here then try to explore using it in different ways like playing it backward:

Or explore how changing the order of the notes sound:

There are some great melodies in there for you to discover.

The easiest way to start doing this is to play the triad and then add a scale note between the notes in that inversion:

For the root position C major triad, you can add either a D or an F between the triad notes, for the first inversion then you can add the F between the E and the G, and for the 2nd inversion you would add the D between C and E.

This is just how you start, and in the end, you can, of course, do a lot more. The reason for starting here is just that it makes it easier to keep the sound of the triad in there.

But triads are also great for adding extensions and colors but also how it helps with some strong melodies.

Shifting Colors On Top

There are two levels to using upper structures. First, let’s look at how you can use a system to create shifting lines and the second is creating a flow of shifting colors on a single chord.

The best way to understand this is to look at the available triads over a Dm7. That is easy if you write out the scale in 3rds from D.

This gives you Dm F Am C triads, the rest are not directly useful for the sound of the chord.

You can build the same thing for G7 altered, for voice-leading purposes then I am starting on Db, but the result is as you will see, the same:

That gives you: Db Fdim Abm Baug Eb and Gdim and Bbm. For the G altered chord then pretty much everything will work, so there are more options.

In the line then you can see how I am using an Am triad over Dm7 and then moving that to Abm on G7 altered, so I am really just voice-leading or shifting the upper structure triad to create the lick.

You can even do this moving up from Am instead of down so you go to Bbm:

What is Better Than One Triad?

The previous example was using two triads on the G7 altered: Bbm and B augmented, and constructing melodies like this is a great way to create interesting lines and also often lines that span a larger range.

For the G7altered this is equal to the sound you get if you change several notes in the chord

The easiest way to get a triad pair like this is to just take two triads that are next to each other. Because, this works better if there are no common notes between the two triads, especially for the next approach to creating melodies.

A basic version of this type of lick using Abm and Bbm triads on G7altered could be something like this:

You can see how the Dm7 lick is also using an Am triad and that helps make that transition stronger.

Another way to make more adventurous lines is to work with melodies that connect inversions of the triads.

If you take B augmented and Db on the G7 altered then that could give you something like this:

Modern Jazz Sounds

An incredibly useful tool that, like triads, can really add something to your soloing is using pentatonics in your jazz lines. In this video, you can see how pentatonic scales can create completely different sounding melodies and how to put them to use on pretty much any type of chord. This approach is a great shortcut to a more modern sound in your playing.

7 Pentatonic Tricks That Will Make You Play Better Jazz Solos

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The Best Triad Exercises – How To Get The Essentials Right

Working on triad exercises is a great way to get more things you can play in your solos, but is also a great way to build your overview of the fretboard and open up how you move from one position to the next in a solo.

In this lesson, I am going to show you 5 triad exercises that were very useful for me and that will develop your playing, fretboard overview, and your technique.

#1 Diatonic Triads – Most Important Triad Exercise

Whatever you want to learn or get better at in Music, a good strategy is to also keep in mind what context you will use it in, and somehow include that in the exercise. It is never really enough to just be able to play something, there is always more going on. To link the triads to scales, positions and inversion then I am going to cover some horizontal, vertical, and diagonal connections that are very useful.

Diatonic Triads

The first place I would suggest that you start working on triads is to practice the diatonic triads in whatever scale positions you are used to.

This is a great way to start seeing those patterns within the scale, and you can use the triad as a part of a lick and easily connect it to other things like 7th chord arpeggios and scale runs.

With knowing these then it is of course also really useful to know what triads you are playing so that you know

  • The Diatonic Harmony of the Scale
  • What Triads are available and will work over other chords

This is the most basic way to practice the triads, but once you work on this I would recommend that you try to also explore the inversions.

Creating Inversions of the triads

Creating inversions of a triad is fairly simple. You have one root position and then 2 inversions. You can create the inversions by moving up the lowest note an octave.

So C major root position: C E G, move up the C one octave and then play from E, G, C  once more now the G is the lowest note: G C E

Taking this through the scale and keeping track of the triad is a great exercise and sounds like this:

Diatonic 1st inversion triads

Another great thing to explore is to play the notes in a pattern to get a different melody out of the triads already when they are technical exercises. This pattern which goes 3rd, root, 5th is a solid melody in solos as well, plus it is easy to play.

Diatonic Triads in 315

Technique For Diatonic Triads

When you are playing these exercises then you can use several techniques. It is not really important and depends more on how you play. I would start with alternate picking, but in the end, adding in economy and legato is a good idea, just make sure to listen to how it sounds, your choices can change the dynamics in the triads and maybe accent something that you don’t want to.

#2 Diatonic Triads Along The Neck

Let’s look at moving up and down the neck to start bridging the gap between positions

Diatonic Triads of C major on the A,D and G string set

Again you want to be aware of the chords you play, and also check out the other string sets like the next on D,G and B

Diatonic Triads of C major on the G,D and B string set

And with these, you can also work on the inversion of course. Here are the 2nd inversion triads along the neck on the top string set:

2nd Inversion Diatonic Triads of C major on the top string set

A Fantastic Alternate Picking Exercise

Working on these one-note-per-string triads is a great way to become more precise and efficient for your right hand when it comes to alternate picking. It is the type of thing that you will see in exercises by Steve Morse and also have jaw-dropping examples of in Bluegrass.

You can of course also work on different economy picking strategies, but maybe that is something for another lesson (once you have practiced your alternate picking a bit more)

#3 Inversions Along The Neck

The next level for your fretboard overview is to start working on inversions of a single chord along the neck. One way to do that could be on a single string set:

C major inversions on A,D, and G string set

And of course, you can do this on other string sets as well.

C major inversions on D, G and B string set

This is great to develop your fretboard knowledge and really know the triads. A good mental exercise is to play the triad inversions and then see the scale around it for each inversion, really linking up the triad and the scale.

#4 Turning Inversions into Vertical Triads

The inversions are a great way to play the triads as flexible groups of notes around the neck, but you can also turn them into a gateway to seeing entire positions of the triad by linking inversions from string set to string set (play inversions horizontally to show the gradually reveal the triad position)

This way of looking at a triad position is useful because it is not just a large block that you run through without thinking. Something that is often an issue with scale and arpeggio positions.

You can make the connection as chords or play them as an inversion exercise

An exercise like this is really about linking all the information so that you have an easier time remembering and using it in solos. Now you have linked the triads across the neck both in a vertical and horizontal way, let’s add a diagonal approach as well.

#5 Repeating Cell-Shapes

If you look at the way the first root position C major triad looked at the beginning of the lesson;

then that is a pattern that is taking up two strings, and the way the guitar works, a pattern like this is easy to move across the fretboard by moving it up an octave and playing the exact same pattern.

And this works for any type of triad and its inversions

EXAMPLE 2nd inversion triad cell

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