Tag Archives: triads lesson

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

Positions + scales

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

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 (make room for the examples in speaking)

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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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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