Tag Archives: triads guitar lesson

7 Reasons The Major Triad Is The Most Important Arpeggio

Triads are often underrated! You try to get away from using triads because they are too simple and boring. It becomes about playing the hippest extension and the most glorious superimposed arpeggio. But often the triad, and especially the major triad is a way to get those notes to make sense. If you solo only focusing on what extensions you are playing without thinking about making it melodic, you will not sound great, and triads can help you fix that!

Let’s check out how to use triads to create Bebop lines, Some Jazz Blues, and play melodic upper structures even a bit of outside symmetrical stuff. It is really the entire spectrum!

How well do you know your triads?

I am not 100% sure I practiced triads in positions, that is anyway not how I use them. Most of the time it makes a lot more sense to practice things in a context, so for me, what mostly worked was practicing triads in scales, and you will see why that connection is very important later:

and the same thing along the neck is useful, but remember to see those shapes on the neck as well to be able to think of the triad as one thing AND as 3 separate notes.

but it can also be useful to practice them in chord progressions like inversions of a IV V I cadence:

there are many more exercises you can do, and if you have a great suggestion then let us know in the comments!

#1 Bebop Triads!

There are two very important things you need to be aware of when it comes to triads:

  1. Major Triads are incredibly strong melodies, and so are the inversions.
  2. Because they are strong they also work when they are the foundation of a line that includes other notes.

You will see plenty of examples of both, but because it is an important skill to be able to take a triad, and add a few notes to turn it into a great jazz lick, then that is the place to start. Later in the video the examples of outside use often work better using the pure triad melodies, so that is coming up as well.

I’ll get to some famous examples of this in a bit. But check out how much you can do with a simple C major triad:

Try to play it descending

and just adding notes from the scale you can start to create lines that are based on the C major triad but have much more of a Bebop flow:

Doing this you immediately see why you want to practice triads in the context of a scale, you need those notes as well when you are soloing. And if you go all Jazz, and add chromatic enclosures and passing notes to the triad then you get beautiful Bebop vocabulary:

The method is pretty simple: You have the triad and then you add either a diatonic or chromatic melody that targets a note in the triad, the possibilities are almost endless. Here’s another one

And even though there are all these extra notes it is still working because the basic structure is that major triad. Here’s a very famous example of this from Charlie Parker’s solo on Billie’s Bounce. He is using an F major triad with a few leading notes:

I’ll get to a George Benson example in a bit.

#2 The Most Basic Upper-Structure

Major triad upper structures: Let’s start with a chord. Here’s an Am7:

If you leave out the bass note then you get a C major triad:

Of course, this is true for any 7th chord: If you take away the root you have a triad, but in this case, I will focus on the m7 chord where you get a major triad.

I’ll show you how to use this in a solo, but you also want to keep in mind that if you have a C major triad as a rootless Am7

then you immediately have 3 great Am7 voicings:

But there are some great solo ideas from this as well!

Check out this George Benson lick, which is, oddly enough, also from a solo on Billie’s Bounce

And if you want to explore this then you can of course add chromatic and diatonic phrases to the triad to give it a bit more Bebop flavour like this II V lick:

But the Major triad is also the core part of A LOT if not most Jazz Blues Licks.

#3 Triad Jazz Blues Rules!

A great recipe for a Jazz Blues lick is a major triad plus a few grace notes played as slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs it is by far the easiest way to create some amazing Jazz Blues!

This is all coming from the major triad with a few grace notes and an enclosure, so sliding into notes:

and using this enclosure of the 3rd of the chord

#4 The Triad has 3 Melodies

You may have heard me talk about how inversions of 7th-chord arpeggios are not used in Jazz solos very often, which is sometimes a hot take.. But luckily that is not the case for triads there all the inversions are great!

For the C major triad you have these 3 inversions:

And these work for solos as well. Like this Blues lick using the 2nd inversion:

Or a II V using the 1st inversion C major triad for the Am7 chord, following what I just covered about upper structures:

So you can also explore that if you are looking for new things to play!

#5 An Introduction to Altered Dominants

The altered scale can be a mysterious and difficult sound to get into, and it can be good to start with some chords so that you can hear what the sound is. For a II V I in C major with a G7 altered you could play:

And triads can be a great introduction to creating solo lines over an altered dominant. In this case, the triad from the b5: Db major is a great option.

Check out this this line with an F major triad on Dm7 and the Db major triad on G7alt:

And all that is happening on the G7alt is the Db major triad and a scale run in G altered which is the same set of notes as Ab melodic minor. The advantage is that you have the Db triad to make it a melody and not just running up and down a scale that is more theory than music. Here’s another example:

Notice how I am not mixing in so many notes with the triad here, because that happens in the next section as well, which is about using the triads as shifting colors on a dominant chord.

#6 The Diminished Triad Flow

The altered scale is one of two scale sounds that are difficult to get to work when you are beginning with Jazz, and the other one is using the diminished scale over dominants, sometimes referred to as half-whole diminished.

Luckily Major triads can solve all your problems!

For a G7 then the diminished scale you would play is this:

G Ab Bb B Db D E F G

And using these triads will give you much more interesting solos compared to running up and down the scale which is such a boring sound:

The chords that sound like this scale are G7 with a b9, a 13th and maybe a b5. It’s a complicated but also really beautiful.

Mixing up two triads like E and Bb major gives you some very beautiful lines, and it is really just about finding playable melodies using the triad inversions, like this:

And because the scale is symmetrical then you can move the G7 line around in minor 3rds and get other useable licks, like this one a minor 3rd higher which mixes G and Db major triads:

Now you let’s check out a great way to shift outside over a maj7 or a m7 chord!

#7 Outside Symmetry

On the dominant chords you can use the major triads in minor 3rd distance, but if you want a similar trick for maj7 chords then look at major triads in major 3rd distance. For Cmaj7 then you get these 3 triads:

C major: C E G

E major: E G# B

Ab major: Ab (G#) C Eb

And if you put these 3 together then you get a symmetrical 6-note scale: the Augmented scale, but the best lines for that are using the triads, check out the sound, it is a bit spacy but also quite beautiful:

And, of course, you can also put the 3 triads together in a descending melody:

`

And as a bonus: since C major is an upper-structure of Am7 you can also use these 3 triads on Am7 chords, even if the scale doesn’t have an A:

I Wish Every Jazz Beginner Would Start Here

With any arpeggio based-lick you create and learn to play it is not only knowing the arpeggio, it is much more important what you can do with the arpeggio, and it doesn’t matter if it is a triad or a 7th chord or anything else. You want to develop the skills that help you turn the arpeggios into great lines. That is also the only way to get the things in this video to sound great and those skills give you tons of options. I talk about developing skills like that in this video starting from the very beginning but also focusing on the most important things to get right! Check it out!

Learn Jazz, Make Music

I Wish Every Jazz Beginner Could Watch This!

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Can I Write More Interesting Pop Chord Progressions With Triads?

You can easily make a lot of interesting and surprising, short chord progressions that still have a beautiful natural flow, so I don’t think there is a reason why most pop music is recycling the same chords over and over.

Instead of trying to make pop songs “better” with lots of sus4 and maj7 chords, which rarely works that well anyway then I thought it would be more interesting to see what is possible to do with simple chords like triads because that is actually pretty mind-blowing what you can get away with and it\s a lot of fun

When I started playing guitar then I was always trying to make new music, mainly because I got bored with just practicing my classical guitar homework, so once I learned to play chords I was always messing around with what chords would go together. In the beginning, this was completely random, and most of it sounded horrible, but learning how you have I IV, and V chords in a key, how relative minor fits in and gives you a few more options made it easier to put chords together.  But then I ended up with another problem because the chord progressions all sounded similar and with the random chords I sometimes had some really nice progressions that worked even if I had no clue why.

It is some of those progressions I want to explore in this video, just using basic 3 or 4-chord progressions and just using triads, I’ll explain why along the way.

Let’s start with making a variation on the most cliché pop progression:

The tools you can use here is really just knowing the key a bit better, because there are a ton of options with that and later also adding some inversions.

You probably know the diatonic chords already, so for C major:

I’ll get to why I am using these spread triads later.

One thing you can do is to borrow some chords from C minor, because they often will work as well, so you can pick one of these chords:

 

___in the video here you compare the two scale__

For this first example, you can keep the same chords but just change them a bit like this:

And even just using Gm and Fm then that really changes the sound a lot. The Gm has a sort of Coldplay sound to me, they do that quite a lot:

The way to explore this is probably just to experiment, because you can get chords to work together without thinking about any types of rules.

For example you can do something like this where the first half is in major and then second part is in minor:

Coming from Jazz then what I always liked about exploring these triads progressions is that you can really dig into the basic strong harmony and how you can get to move, and also how moving notes around can create progressions that sound strong, but maybe don’t move like the very common progressions that we already know, so you can find new connections.

One thing that will makes that easier is to use inversions, so you can learn those. For a C major triad you have these inversions:

and for an Am chord you have:

You will see me use different ways of playing them as well, so C can also be C and Am can also be played as Am:

That is really just about what works better moving to the next chord.

The Power Inversions

So now if you have a chord progression like the previous one:

Then you can create a different type of bassline with a few inversions:

Where the step-wise movement is a nice way to connect the chords, you can also make one  that moves up to Eb which is also borrowed from C minor:

So as you can hear there are a lot of stuff to explore and create beautiful progressions with.

Why I use Spread Triads

You probably noticed that I am building all of this around these spread or open-voiced triads which are really just triads where one note is moved an octave.

You can look at this (C spread) and see it as a C root position where the 2nd note is moved up an octave or as a 2nd inversion where the middle note is dropped down an octave (C 2nd inv -> C spread)

For exploring harmony like this then I use them because when you have a 3-note voicing and it is opened up then it is easier to move the voices one at the time, for example if you have

Explainer:

Am then you can move the 2 outer voices down and the middle voice up to get this type of sound Am G#dim Am which is a sort of dominant sound.

Another advantage is that it is often easy to play the chord and add a bit of melody on top or just use the top-notes a s melody notes.

Adding Melody to the chords

Let’s try another one, and in this one I am being even more free with chord choices and just taking a chord that works because it resolves nicely.

Here the D/F# is really just there to resolve to the Ddim chord which resolves really smoothly down to the C chord with E in the bass.

And once you have a progression like this then you can just try to make simple melodies that move on top, mostly just step-wise.

The Power of Extra Dominant Chords

Another way to get some more chords in there is to add dominants to the progression, so if I want to move from C to Am then I can add an E in between because the E is the dominant of the Am, and that actually can give you some really nice sounds if you add inversions into the mix:

And if play it slowly, C E/B you can see how the E stays on top and the rest moves which makes it so much better. Here I am adding the Gm as a sort weird dominant for C, and I really love that sound, I guess there is some folk sound to that? Like a lot of Scandinavian folk music will have melodies that use a minor chord on the V

instead of the more classical-sounding G major:

So as you can tell, then I am not really treating this as rules that you have to follow. I change stuff around all the time and just experiment. The things I have covered until now are about giving you options to explore, and then I am using triads because that makes it easier to experiment when you are creating your own progressions. It is probably more about experimenting and then if it sounds good you can try to figure out what it is.

In general, you need to understand Jazz harmony it will make everything easier when it comes to soloing over chords or making your own progressions. So check out this video on how to understand Jazz chords and also some of the tricks that Pat Martino and Barry Harris use, it will help you get a lot further and open your mind to a lot of new ideas.

 

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Stop Being Lazy With Your Triads (Jazz Guitar Secrets)

Triads are only 3 notes but you can use them in so many ways for both comping and solos.

If someone asked me what 3 things are most important to learn for your solos, Triads would be on that list!

Often people hear triads and just think about campfire chords and country music, but I am going to show you how much you can use triads when it comes to Jazz.

Let’s start with some chords:

#1 Triads Are Great Jazz Chords

On-screen: chord progression arrow written out chords(fancy)

Playing Jazz Chords is about taking a chord progression and turning it into exciting and beautiful harmony that fits the song, therefore you want to have flexible chords, and here, triads are a fantastic option.

Let’s say you have this

That’s Dm7, G7 and Cmaj7.

For all of these chords then if you take away the root you get a triad:

Dm7 becomes, F major, G7 becomes Bdim and Cmaj7, E minor

And the 3 note voicings are a lot easier to play, and you can do stuff like this:

But before we get into using triads for soloing, you can actually take this a step further, with something that I think is often overlooked:

#2 Open Triads Are Amazing Chords!

The basic triads that you just saw can do a lot of great things, but don’t forget to also check out the open triads which are also easy to play but gives you a different sound.

The method is pretty simple:

The Open triad version of an F major triad gives you these 3 inversions:

And using these on a II V I sounds beautiful and is a really nice, but more unusual way to use 3-note chords

And you can do this on the other inversions as well

and since it is only 3 notes you can also easily add some extra things to embellish the progression:

But it is not all comping, and triads are solid for soloing as well!

#3 Getting Free From Scale Melodies

One of the most boring types of melodies is to just play scales in your solos:

Example 4

And both triads and arpeggios are great ways to fix this, so you want to practice your scales in diatonic triads:

and like this, you have a connection between the scale and the triads,

so using the same triads I used with the chords: F major, Bdim, and Em then you can create lines like this:

 

But you don’t want to forget to also check this out in other scales than the major scale. Diatonic triads in Melodic minor are incredibly useful as well, and there is actually a nice trick to using them that I’ll show you.

Here are the triads for Ab melodic minor which is what you use for G7 altered.

With this you don’t have to only play altered licks like this:

Instead, you can use a B augmented and an F dim triad,

and actually, also make a line that fits over some other chords as well:

The beauty of melodic minor is that if you move up the altered lick a half-step then you have a great lick for an Am6 chord:

So knowing your diatonic triads in other scales will give you a lot of different sounds and melodies.

#4 This is REALLY knowing your triads

Now you have the diatonic triads that you can use but you are actually still missing something. Listen to Wes, just using a Dm triad on a Dm chord:

Here Wes is using the 2nd inversion of the Dm triad.

And you want to start practicing both 1st and 2nd inversions of the triads as well, not only as exercises like this

But also in make some lines, mainly just because they are incredibly strong melodies that you can use for a lot of nice things. Here is an example using the same Dm 2nd inversion triad on a II V I in C major:

Let’s look at another way to work on creative melodies with triads.

#5 Getting Melodic

Triads are amazingly strong melodies, but you want to take advantage of the fact that they are only 3 notes and therefore also very flexible and easy to do things with.

So instead of just playing up and down the triad all the time like this

Then you also want to be able to turn them into something like this:

In this line the triads are played in different patterns for the F major (partly voiceover slow version), B diminished, and Em triads. Still just using those basic choices. that I showed you at the beginning

And it really pays off to work on taking some of these patterns through the diatonic triads in exercises to get them into your ear and into your fingers. Here is an exercise using the melody I used on the B dim triad:

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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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New Beautiful Jazz Chords With This Powerful Triad Strategy

The best way to learn something new is to build on things that you already know. That way it is much easier to really get into your playing and more likely that you get something out of it.

That is how this exercise works and it is a great way to learn some very useful and flexible jazz chords that you can do really amazing things with.

And of course, you can also explore some that sound great and are a little more tricky to play.

Basic Jazz Chords

Let’s start with these basic voicings for a II V I and then work out how to create a lot more chords, and more importantly, chords that you can add color and embellishments to.

If we turn them into rootless voicings by removing the bass note then you get

Notice that the Dm7 voicing is, in fact, an F major triad.

And you can play Dm7 on the same string set in 3 ways by playing the different inversions of the F major triad:

And if you look at the II V I then you can see that all that is changing is a single note, C moves to B. So you can create II Vs for all the Dm7 chords by finding the C and then changing it to B:

Already here there might be G7 chord voicings that you don’t use that often, and we are only just getting started! Let’s make them complete II V I’s by adding the Em triads that are used for Cmaj7:

Exercises To Discover New Things

Usually, when you think of exercises, and maybe even practice, then it is about drilling scales and arpeggios with a metronome. Of course, you need stuff like that as well, but it is very useful to also have exercises that help you discover new things. Here, you start with chords that you know and play, and then you develop more options from that, and you can do this with any voicing or chord progression, and as you will see then we can add a lot of beautiful colors to these chords. This is not about repeating material 100s of times, it is about discovering things that sound great and then using that.

Adding More Colors And Tricks

The first thing you can do is make the G7 a G7(b9), so that it has more tension and adds more energy to the progression. This is really just lowering the A a half step to Ab:

and then you can take that through the inversions as well.

Notice that I am also adding a variation to the Cmaj7 chords because I move the 5th up to the 13th for all of them. You could also try to move it down to the #11

But I’ll let you explore that by yourself. For me, it is very important to think of chords as things you can change, not static grips so that you have some freedom to create the sound that you want from some basic chord symbols.

The Advantage of Rootless Voicings and Chromatic Voice-leading

A very common thing to play on a tonic chord like the Cmaj7 is to from the maj7th down to the maj6th in half-steps like this:

When I am playing this then that is not that difficult to do with these 3-note voicings, but if I was playing with the root then that is a very different story.

So playing with the 3-note chords adds quite a lot of flexibility or options for what you can do when playing chords. Which, as you will see, is where all the fun stuff really starts to come up.

When I was in the first few years of my study at the conservatory, then most of the gigs that I did were these long 3-4 hour standard gigs comping singers. Depending on the singer then everything from 1/3 to 1/2 of the songs was ballads. This can get a bit boring, but it is the perfect place to also develop voicings and voice-leading like this. This also helped keep it interesting not only for me but also for the rhythm section while the soloist was still happy (so that I didn’t get fired)

Jazz Chord Heaven!

Let’s try to take that a bit further, so you can start to see all the things that are possible, just starting with those 3 basic Jazz chords.

You have the 7th to 6th thing and you can also work with the 11th on the minor chord. Try to pay attention to how the sound changes when the movement is in different parts of the chords.

What is happening here is often referred to as inner-voice movement, and it is a beautiful way to embellish chords and add some interesting twists and turns that keep the harmony flowing in a nice way.

You also want to notice that I don’t rely on a static fingering for the chords, but instead try to find a solution that helps me play what I want to play. That can be really useful to keep in mind so that you are not stuck with only being able to play a chord in one way.

You can of course also take ideas that start with another inversion like this one:

 

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The Two Reasons Triads Are Amazing For Jazz Solos

Usually, you connect Jazz with chords with a lot of extensions and alterations. But Triads are still an amazing resource that you can create beautiful lines with and something you definitely want to check out. In fact, you can use triads to add some things to your playing that are essential to Jazz and not just about what notes you play over a chord.

Of course, there are more than two things that are great about triads, but the two I talk about here are really useful for Jazz, but If you have other suggestions why triads are great and how you can use them then leave a comment.

Diatonic Triads – The Raw Material

Before you start using the triads then you should also have an overview of them and two things you can work on to have that overview would be to practice the diatonic triads in the scales:

and also check out the triads on string sets like this:

This is simple and basic stuff, you want to know diatonic triads and 7th chords for all scales that you need for soloing, and please start with major scales because you need that the most.

Triads Can Help Your Rhythm

First I want to show you how you can use triads to create more interesting rhythms in your lines. One problem that many students run into, and I know I did, is that when they figure out how to play changes, then everything starts to sound heavy and obvious when it should be light and swinging.

So you don’t want to sound like this

What is missing here is that the rhythm and the melodies are predictable and all move to and from the heavy beats

And instead, you want the accents to be on off-beats more syncopation and more surprising and a lot lighter. Since triads are 3 notes they are really good for having melodies that shift accents and make the solo dance more. Something like this:

So I am playing triads to create a pattern of 3 notes that shifts on top of the 4-4 meter and in that way sound a lot better.

And you can explore this in many ways, you can also add chromatic passing notes and not only use triads but still get a great effect:

Finding Triads

To come up with lines like this then it is useful to find the triads that sound great over a chord. Then you have some options to create the licks that sound great.

I am going to give you an easy way to explore that, before covering the other great triad trick you that is super useful for so many other things as well. There is a very easy way to do that by writing the scale out in 3rds.

So for Dm7, this is coming from the C major scale, which you can write in 3rds like this:

C E G B D F A C E G

The Dm7 chord is here: D F A C, and the triads we can use would be

Dm, F, Am, and C which you can see still contain some basic chord tones and also adds some beautiful extensions.

The G7 that you heard in the examples was coming from the C harmonic minor scale, so in fact, you are borrowing the dominant from minor to get some interesting notes, and also some really great sounding triad options:

So here you have the C harmonic minor scale written out in 3rds.

C Eb G B D F Ab C Eb G

The G7 is here! and then you have the triads G Bdim and Ddim, but Eb augmented works as well and you can make some really interesting melodies with them.

Writing out stuff like this is incredibly useful for your overview of the scales and will give you a ton of options to use in your solos.

Change The Chords!

The other thing that triads do really well is that you can get your melodies to make sense by playing the triads of a super-imposed progression and in that way create a sort of counterpoint to the original chord progression. Because you are playing something that works but also moves differently.

This is pretty easy, you can do this on a single chord like this:

Here I am playing a short walk up Cmaj7 Dm7 Em7 just using the basic triads and since Em sounds great on C major then the Dm triad just becomes a diatonic passing chord used in the melody that resolves back into the sound of the Cmaj7. But it really adds some movement instead of just playing up and down a Cmaj7 arpeggio.

More Chord Progressions

The same type of concept used on a II V I could give you something like this:

Here I am using triads from both C major and C harmonic minor, first walking up Dm and Em and then Fm and G from harmonic minor adding a Ddim before resolving. In this way, you have a line that shifts on top of the meter with 3-note groupings and also adds a different kind of movement in the chords.

Notice how using stepwise movement is a pretty easy and strong way to create these progressions.

This is a variation of the same idea, but now moving down from F to Dm and then using a D dim triad to get the G7(b9) sound.

If you really want to open up this type of thinking then you want to also add the triads in the altered scale, that gives you something like this:

Here the chord progression is F and Am on the Dm7 and then Abm and Db on the G7alt . You can hear how this also might work as chords:

And you sort of can turn the G7alt into a tritone II V using Abm7 Db7.

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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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Jazz Blues – You Need To Know Triads!

If you had any doubt, why Triads are amazing in your solos then you just check out this video and see how strong melodies you can create and how many options you have when you solo on a jazz blues. Trust me, you will never regret practicing diatonic triads and inversions.

A triad is easy to learn and great for melodies, just listen to Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik or Metallica’s One.

We can practice many things, but the great thing about triads is that they make very solid melodies so you can easily use them and sound great in a lot of places, as you will hear in this video.

The Solo – Triads only

Let’s first check out how a solo chorus only using triads sound and then I will show you what triads go where and how to find them for different chords.

When you only play super-imposed triads it often sounds quite modern, but of course, Charlie Parker and Wes used triads as well, so it is also a part of more traditional bop vocabulary

F7 and Bb7 – The Magic of Diatonic Triads

The first phrase on the F7 is an A diminished triad. When it comes to choosing triads then the easiest way to search is to look at the scale in thirds.

F7 is the dominant in Bb major, so if you have that scale in thirds:

Bb D F A C Eb G Bb

The F7 is arpeggio is then:  Bb D F A C Eb G A Bb

And the top part of that is A diminished A C Eb

In this way, we can filter out possible candidates by choosing triads that have common notes with F7.

Bb major doesn’t work, but Dm, is good, F and Adim are part of the arpeggio, and Cm is also a fine option, as you will see later. You can get away with Eb major as well because the Eb is a strong note on F7.

Dm, F, Adim, Cm, Eb

The same process on Bb7: Bb7 is the dominant in Eb major

Eb G Bb D F Ab C Eb

Gives us:

Gm, Bb, Ddim, Fm, Ab.

Here I am using Bb major on the Bb7.

The next bar uses a Cm triad on F7, which fits with what I already showed you.

Now that it is clear what is available on the regular dominants then let’s have a look at the Altered dominant and later the dominants from the diminished scale.

Next, we have an F7 altered which for many is a difficult chord to solo over, but Triads can actually work as a type of Shortcut.

Thoughts on Practicing Triads

The most important way to practice triads is to learn them in the scales you use, so working on diatonic triads is extremely useful, and if you want to take it to the next level then playing the inversions through scales is also a great exercise.

Altered Dominant Triads

F7 altered is the same as Gb melodic minor. Soloing over an altered dominant can be tricky, but as you can see here the triads help you make stronger melodies that still really connect to the chord.

The theory is a little bit less clear, but still not rocket science:

The Scale in 3rds: Gb A Db F Ab Cb Eb Gb (I am writing A because it is an F7 chord)

The Gbm triad is b9, 3, b13

A augmented triad: A Db F works as well

Db is not that strong without an A, it almost sounds like an Fm chord and a little close to the Bb7.

F dim is not that strong, we really miss the A and the Eb.

Abm has the Eb so that works.

Cb or B major works really well, that is the triad of the tritone sub B7

Ebdim is an F7b9 so that works as well

So we have: Gbm, Aaug, Abm, Cb, Edim

This is a bit context-sensitive so you can probably get other triads to work as well, but for now, I am going for the “easy” choices that sound fairly obvious.

The Altered Shortcut

The line in the solo is using Cb and Gbm triads to create a very logical melody. And in general, that is something you can use with the altered dominant: The triads resolve up and down in half steps:

F7alt: Bb7: Gbm Fm

Aaug Bb:

Abm Gm:

Cb B:

Ebdim Ddim:

And you could make similar lists for resolving to other chords like Bbmaj7 or Bbm6.

Diminished Chords and Some Great Triad Options

The Bdim in bar 6 has a lot of triad options.

The arpeggio itself has 4 diminished triads: B D F Ab

Which gives us B D F, D F Ab , F Ab B, Ab D F

The scale I would use here is C harmonic minor, and a great triad in that to use would be the G major triad, which is what I use here.

The G triad is used to lead back to the Adim on the F7.

Minor II V I trick

The Aø D7alt is the minor II V to the Gm7, the II chord.

A great really simple way to make lines on this progression with triads is to use the same triad, first in major and then in minor.

That is what I am doing here: On the Aø you see the major triad from the b5: Eb major, and on the D7alt that becomes an Ebm triad, which fits because D7 altered is Eb melodic minor.

Let’s have a look at being symmetric without sounding symmetric with the diminished scale.

Dominant With Diminished Scale

On the C7, I am using one of the best ways to play melodic lines over a dominant using the diminished scale: Making melodies with the 4 major triads.

For the C7 that gives us C, Eb, Gb and A major.

In this case, I am using A and Gb major to really bring across the C7(13b9) and C7(b5).

When you improvise with these triads then it is easy to not sound symmetric: Don’t play symmetrical melodies, which is how I approach this line playing different melodies and inversions with the triads.

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Jazz Chords – Using Triads in Jazz Comping – Study Guide

You can use triads to play jazz chords, and it is a very powerful tool for this. Triads are very flexible and easy to play while also sounding great as chords. In this playlist, I will go over how you can use the triads you already know to play great sounding jazz progressions using only easy 3-note jazz chords.

We can play a wide range of chords with these 3-note easy jazz chords and they are very easy to add notes to or change notes to give us the extensions or alterations we want.

You can check out the videos here or go through the playlist on YouTube through this link:

Jazz Chords – Using Triads in Jazz Comping – Study Guide

Working with Triads as Jazz Chords and making it a flexible tool

This video discusses how you can work with triads and inversions when comping, showing you how to voice-lead them, use inversions, and add extensions and alterations.

Finding Triads for 7th chords

This video is actually about soloing, but the first few minutes provide a very thorough method for relating triads to a 7th chord.

Playing a Jazz Standard using Triad voicings

In this lesson, I am going to show you how you can get started with some triad voicings. Starting with what you already know and then go over 5 levels, step-by-step, of how you can play some great sounding comping ideas using these amazing voicings.

Applying Triad voicings to a Jazz Blues

This lesson is going over how you find triad voicings for a C jazz blues. You will also learn what you can do with the voicings you find using melodies and inversions.

 

Other great 3-note Jazz Voicings to Add To Your Vocabulary

When you think about Jazz Chords then you are probably thinking about rich chords with a lot of beautiful extensions. Of course, the rich colors of Jazz are about having chords that are embellished like this. At the same time when you are playing Jazz and when you are comping then you also want to have flexible chords so that you can move from one to the next, create small melodies and 3-note chords are fantastic for this.

 

Using less common Triad choices on a Maj7 chord

This video is going over 6 triads that I use for my Cmaj7 voicings and will also demonstrate how you can use them in a II V I cadence in C major. At the end of the video, I go over 4 more triads that are a bit tricky to use but also yield more interesting sounds!

Let me know what you think!

These videos give you a path to work on using triads and becoming very flexible with them, is there something you are missing or maybe something else you would like to see?

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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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