Triads and Triad pairs in improvisation Part 2

This second blog on triads I’ll try to suggest a few ways to use triads in your lines. This very much a description of my personal opinion and approach. I try to mix devices like triads into my playing so that it becomes a natural part of the melodies I play and therefore it should just sit in there  with all the other devices. I really want to try to avoid the feeling of [triad lick]—-[/triad lick] within the a solo. There are times when you want to do that, but then it has to be a choice and in my experience I need to work a bit to get past that level.

In these examples I expect the reader to be able to analyze the note choices relative to the key and the chord, I did not explain what triad I put where.

A few (simple) observations

Triads are, in jazz, often effective as upper structures in the chord so there are several options available when looking to use triads in improvising on a chord

We tend to use the root position triad the most.

Playing the three notes of a triad inversion is not the only way to base a melody around a triad.

Upper structures.

As you probably know chords are build of stacks of 3rds. F.ex Bb major7#-11-13 would spell out to be the notes Bb D F A C E G.  For each not in the chord there is a triad, so Bb major, D minor, F major, A minor, C major E diminished and G minor would all work on that chord. In that way we can chose a triad other than that of the chord and play it while still playing something related to the chord.  But as you might hear we need to stay close enough (ie have enough basic chord tones) to make it clear. There are numerous charts and articles on the net about this so it should be easy to dig something up if you want to check out more.

Triad2 ex1

Triad2 ex2

We tend to use the root position triad the most.

This makes sense because we almost always think or build chords from the root. It is also not wrong in any way, but if you listen to Charlie Parker, he often used the other inversions in his themes too. Check the first phrase of Dexterity or Anthropology which both use the 2nd inversion.  First 3 notes of Blues for Alice is a 1st inversion triad. I sometimes have the impression that after Parker people forgot to make melodies with the other inversions, which is probably not true, but stil..

An obvious advantage of the inversions is that you get a nice 6th interval instead of the 5th.

Triad2 ex3

Triad2 ex4

Playing the three notes of a triad inversion is not the only way to base a melody around a triad.

Mixing up the melody by adding a passing note (chromatic or diatonic) can be a good way to
build melodies. If you play melodies which are not bop lines but just songs you’ll find that there
are not that many arpeggios in 8th notes after each other, they are there in the melody but not as copy/paste blocks like we often do in bop improvisation.

Triad2 ex5


Triad2 ex6

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