Tag Archives: triads guitar lesson jazz

Triads And How To Make Great Lines With Them On a m7 Chord

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.

Spread Triads

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
Triad Pairs

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.

Jazz Standards – Easy Solo Boost

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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

Get a free E-book

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

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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