Tag Archives: triads jazz

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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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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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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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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Triads – How To Make Them Jazz Chords

In this video, I am going to show you how you can use the triads that you already know as a great way to create some beautiful jazz chords. Starting with material that you already know to open up a vast amount of jazz voicings is a really efficient approach to becoming much freer and begin to create a jazz chord vocabulary, and it is also really great for fretboard knowledge.

It is really interesting to explore how great a tool the triads are as jazz voicings.
I am going to do this in three steps:

  • How To Find Triads You Can Use, in a Practical Way
  • Easily Turn This Into a lot of chords and ideas to play
  • Find Triads for more Complicated Chords with Extensions

Step 1 – Rootless Jazz Voicings for a II V I

If we take a II V I in C major with some very basic jazz chords then we have this:

If I remove the Bass note then I have

Turning Diatonic 7th chords into triad voicings

The same principle use on all the diatonic chords in C major would yield:

And without the root we have these triads that could work as the above chords:

Step 2 – More Triad voicings with inversions

Before looking at adding extensions and alterations to the chords, let’s have a look at how much we can already do with these simple triads.

We now can play a II V I with these rootless, triad-based, but if this F major triad is a good voicing for Dm7 (Example 3) then the inversions of it are as well.

If I do this for the II V I progression I have these 3 ways to play that:

And of course this is just on the middle string set. This works on other string sets as well

Step 3 – Adding Extensions and using other triad types

If you look at a G7b9 voicing spelled out x 10 9 10 9 x or G B F Ab then the top notes of this chord are B F Ab which is, in fact, an F dim triad.

If I inser these into the II V I’s from example 4 then I have:

In the same way a Dm11: 10 x 10 10 8 x or D C F G has the three notes C F G on top. That is a Csus4 triad.

This gives us these II V I examples

And finally we can add a 13th to the Cmaj7: which is the same as playing an Asus4/C which gives us:

If you want to check out more options on using upper-structure triads for Cmaj7, I also have this lesson: 6 Triads for a Cmaj7 Chord (well 10 actually..)

Mix it with Other Chord Types

Check out how Triads work well with other 3-note voicings in this lesson on the changes of Some Day My Prince Will Come.

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Triads on a G7 – The Most Important Solo Tool

When you start to play jazz it is easy to get completely lost in extensions, alterations and chord substitutions. And while that is also a part of jazz then it is often much more useful to work on more simple things like what Triads you can use on a dominant chord.

To demonstrate some of triads you can use in a Jazz Blues solo and also talk about different ways to use them I have written a one chorus solo on a Blues in G which will illustrate a lot of options in terms of triad options for a lot of the chords in there.

The G Jazz Blues Solo

As you can see in the video the first thing to check out is the solo. If you can then go through the solo now and mark down the different triads you see. Not all phrases are pased on triads, but most of them are.

The Basic triads on a G7(9,13)

The first bar is a phrase made with a root position G major triad, sliding up to the 3rd and then playing first the root and then the 5th that I repeat.

You want to check out how to use the G triad on a G7, especially for a G jazz blues, but make sure to also work on how to play different melodies with it by learning the triad notes in different order or checking out inversions.

If you want to hear somebody use triads well then listen to Charlie Parker or John Coltrane (not the smallest names in Jazz..)

An overview of the triads on a G7 can be made by looking at the G7 with all extensions, similar to stacking the scale in 3rds from G:

G B D F A C E – G7(9,11,13)

G B D – G major

B D F – Bdim

D F A – Dm

F A C – F major

E G B – Em

Am and C major have too much of a “C” sound to really work well on G7. If you want to check out some more ideas for triads then this article might be helpful: Triads – How To Make Jazz Licks and what to Practice

The line on the C7 is not based on a triad.

In Bar 3 the opening phrase is developed using a similar but extended version of the melody. Now the triad used is the one from the 3rd of the chord: B dim.

This is developed further moving up to a Dm triad in bar 4. From there the melody is with a Db triad. The triad of the tritone substitute: Db7.

The IVth degree and the #IV dim chord.

On the C7 the melody is constructed of the triad on the 5th: Gm and on the C#dim the triad is on C#dim. Of course all 4 dim triads could work: C#,E,G and Bb.

Returning to the G7 the melody is constructed from a descending F major. With the F major triad you need to be a little careful with the C so that it still sounds like a G7. In this case I am moving the melody to a B.

On the Bø E7 is played using the triad from the 3rd of Bø: Dm and the one on the b9: Fdim

The Final Cadence and two Triad Combinations

The Final II V: Am7 D7 is using combinations of triads. The Em and C triads on the Am7. In this case this is not a triad pair since a triad pair is made up of triads that have no common notes. If you want to explore triad pairs then this lesson might be useful: Traid Pairs Part 1

On the D7al the triads are Ab and Ebm. The Ebm is neatly resolving to the triad on the 13th of G7: Em.

The melody on the D7alt and G7 is repeated and developed on the D7 into a D augmented triad.

Give you Jazz Blues playing a Boost

If you want to get some new ideas for you blues soloing and check out how I phrase on a medium Bb Blues then check out this lesson based on a transcribed 4 chorus solo. Discussing arpeggios, blues phrasing and pentatonic scales.

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Triads – 5 Easy Exercises for Better Solos

You want to include Triads in your Jazz Guitar vocabulary. Triads are some of the stronges melodies we have available and in the video I am going to go over 5 easy exercises to build your triad vocabulary on jazz. For each of the exercises I also have a jazz lick using the pattern so you can hear how it sounds in context.

Of course you are practicing scales and arpeggios but it is difficult to put that into real music. But there are also ways to practice that are a lot easier to put into a solo.  I am also going to talk about how ways practice them and of course give you some examples on how to use them in a solo.

I find that working a bit at these patterns really helps:

  • Making more interesting solo lines
  • Use the things you Practice for technique
  • Have a better overview of arpeggios on the neck
  • Knowing the Scales and music theory

As a small extra feature this also demonstrates some of the places where I use sweeping or economy picking!

Lick #1 – Top Note Targets

As you will see I tend to work mostly on triads in scales, so what is often called diatonic triads. This is because if you check them out there then you have them together with all the other notes you use when you are soloing so it is about understanding the triad, the chord and the scale.

This first example is a pattern that really emphasizes the top note of the triad arpeggio. Since the top note also almost can work as an independent melody this is an easy way to build a strong line just having a simple melody that is harmonized with arepggios.

On a side note you can hear Lage Lund use this pattern quite a lot.

Exercise 1 – Diatonic Arpeggios

Probably the great thing about this pattern is that it really emphasizes the top note, so the rest of the notes almost sound like they are accompanying that note. This means that the melody you hear is mostly the top-notes moving. The large interval skip from the 5 to 1 followed by the ascending arpeggio also gives the line a lot of forward motion.

Altered Scale Triad Pair

Here you have an example of how I might use the top-note pattern. In this II V I lick I am using it starting on the Dm7 and then going on to the G7alt with Bbm and Abm triads.  

Bbm and Abm form a triad pair on a G7alt since they are triads with out common notes:

Abm: Ab B Eb and Bb: Bb Db F

Finding triads for a chord

The way I find the triads that I can use over a chord is by looking at a chord with extensions. As an example you can look at the Dm7 chord, with the stable extensions in C major that would be a Dm(11):

D F A C E G

And the process is really just to pick out the triads contained:

Dm: D F A

F: F A C

Am: A C E

C: C E G

Lick #2 – 3rds Distance Cascade3rds distance

This way of playing the triads is useful because you are playing them together so that they fit a chord. If you are improvising over a Dm7 then Dm, F and Am triads all work over that chord.

Having the triads together like this works well for cascading arpeggio ideas combining several triads over one chord.

A useful or practical way to practice this is across the string sets in two different ways

The first approach relies on Economy picking where the second is using legato for the same note set. As you may have noticed in other lessons I use this economy patter quite a lot.

3rds Distance – Legato idea

In this lick the cascading triads are on the Dm7 and then stretching into the G7alt with the Db triad. This way of using the triads also creates a great 3 note grouping.

Lick #3 – Leading Notes

Adding chromatic passing notes to triads is a great way to use them and add some bebop or jazz flavour to the triads.

The exercise here below is taking the diatonic triads in a common 8th fret scale position and add a chromatic leading note before the root.

Chromatic leading notes

The example here below adds a leading note first to the F major triad and then the A minor triad. The G7alt also adds a descending version of the leading note to an Abm triad.

Lick #4 – The Wrong way around

Another variaton that is easy to use is to play the triads ascending through the scale, so Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bø, C but then play each triad descending.

This exercise is showed on the top string set and notice how I am using economy picking to play the triads.

New Directions for Triads

The lick is using the first three triads from the exercise: Dm, Em and F major and from there going into an altered lick based on an AbmMaj7 arpeggio.

Lick #5 – Arpeggios are melodies

You don’t have to play the notes of the triad in the same order all the time. In this exercise I am changing the order from 1 3 5 to 3 5 1. 

This has two advantages: I t really brings out the 3rd in the triad and of course creates a strong melody.

Creating new triad sounds

This lick is demonstrating how you might use the triads. On the Dm7 I used an F major and an A minor triad.

Notice how the lick has a lot of large intervals and the triads still pull everything together.

Arpeggios and Target notes

A huge part of playing over chord changes is using arpeggios like triads and then thinking ahead so you hit the right target notes in the next chord.

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Triads – How To Make Jazz Licks and what to Practice

Triads are one of the strongest melodies that we have and in this video I am going to show you some triad exercises and how you can use them to make strong and more interesting triad jazz lines. Triads are used all the time in jazz by people from Wes Montgomery to Kurt Rosenwinkel and Lage Lund and everybody else.

Every scale exercise you play should be something that is a melodic building block. It is important to remember that besides playing the right notes you also have to create strong melodies to play a good solo. 

For each of the triad ideas I will go over a lick using the inversion or pattern and I will also give you some exercises that will test your abilities with both triads and scales since some of them are really difficult to play.

Practicing Arpeggios The Right Way

One of the most effective ways to practice your arpeggios is to practice them in the scales as diatonic scale exercises. When you are improvising you are not only thinking of the arpeggio but also about the scale that surrounds, so learning the arpeggios in that context is very important.

Super-Impose Diatonic Triads

This first example is an jazz lick that demonstrates how you can super-impose diatonic triads over the chords in a II V I in C major.

On the Dm7 I am using an F major triad which is the top notes of a Dm7 chord. In general you want to check out what all the triads are against the different notes in the scale. That wil give you a lot of ideas for creating lines with this material.

The G7 bar is using the basic G triad which of course is also a great option for making lines.

Finally the Cmaj7 bar is made entirely out of super-imposed triads. Em followed by Am and finally a G major triad.

Exercises for Basic Diatonic Triads

There are two basic exercises to check out when it comes to triads. The triads in a scale position as shown here below:

And it is also very useful to practice the triads along the neck on a string set:

When playing these exercises then try to keep track of what triads you are playing.

1st Inversion Triads

A good melody to add to your vocabulary is 1st inversion triads. In this example I am using a 1st inversion Dm triad in beginning of the lick. This is followed by a 1st inversion Am triad later in that bar. Notice that the Am triad adds the 9th to the sound: Against D: Am – A(5th), C(b7), E(9th).

On the G7 the triads are coming out of the Altered scale. The first triad is a B augmented triad which is in root position. The next part of the line is a first inversion Db major triad.

For G altered (or Ab melodic minor) we have these diatonic triads:

Gdim, Abm, Bbm, Baug, Db, Eb, Fdim

On the Cmaj7 the line is using first a C major 1st inversion and then an Am first inversion triad.

1st Inversions Triad exercises

A good but also slightly difficult is to play 1st inversion triads through the scale. For me it was very difficult to think triads from the 3rd, but after a few times you also get really used to hearing the melody and the exercise becomes something you can do in the scale by ear.

The 2nd inversion Triad

The melody in example 6 relies heavily on shifting a 2nd inversion triad through first the major scale and then the harmonic minor scale.

I am using C harmonic minor on the G7, which yields a G7(b9,b13). The melodic idea starts on Dm7 with a 2nd inversion Dm triad and then I am adding a diatonic passing chord in the line by using a 2nd inversion Em triad. Adding chord movement in the melody like this can be very useful. Diatonic passing chords are great colours to have in your vocabulary

Inverted Diatonic Triads

Practicing the 2nd inversion triads in the scale position is really where you want to start with this. I always find that the beginning 4th interval in these inversions are great for a signal like sound in a jazz lick.

Melodic Patterns with Triads

As I talked about in the beginning of this lesson, it is important that you consider all these different triad ideas as different melodies. We too easily get caught up in a way of thinking that is only thinking of the colour they add to the harmony and not the melody.4

Therefore playing a triad as 3 1 5 is different from 1 3 5, and working with this will give you a lot of great options. A bonus feature is also that it makes sense as a melody but does not sound like a typical triad.

The first part of the Dm7 is again using the F major triad, but now in the 3 1 5 pattern. This is followed by a sus4 triad.

On the G7alt the line is using first an F and then a G diminished triad in 3 5 1 pattern. Notic how it does not really sound like a triad and has a lot of interesting skips because of the 5th interval from 5 to 1 in this pattern.

The Cmaj7 bar has an Am triad in a 3 1 5 pattern.

Practicing Melodic Patterns

Again it can be challenging to take a pattern like this through the scale, but it is a good exercise.

Picking Technique Challenge!

Spread triads or open voiced triads are a fantastic way to add larger intervals to your lines and still sound melodic. They are however a bit tricky to play since they consist of only large intervals. Spread Triads will work great both as arpeggios and as chords

The example starts with a Dm 1st inversion open voiced triad followed by a descending scale run.

The construction of the G7alt line is similar since it opens with an Eb 1st inversion spread triad. The Eb major triad is very colourful against the G7: Eb(b13), G(root), Bb(#9).

The Cmaj7 bar has a G major triad which is also played as a 1st inversion open-voiced or spread triad.

Triad Exercises from Hell!

Practicing Spread Triads is difficult for your right hand. I’d suggest you start by learning some basic inversions first:

And then also try to experiment with moving these through the scale like this:

Take Your Soloing to the next level

For me this was the best strategy to learn how to improvise over chord changes and really nail all the fast moving scales and chords. Using target notes was a huge help in thinking ahead and playing sensible melodies that move in a logical way to the next chord.

It is also the approach that has helped a lot of my students in getting this essential skill into their playing.

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