Skip to main content

Building Triads

Lesson 15 from: Music Theory for Electronic Musicians

J. Anthony Allen

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

15. Building Triads

Next Lesson: Chord Progressions

Lesson Info

Building Triads

Okay, We're gonna start talking about cords here, and we're gonna leave the third the major and minor business of the third behind. For just a minute, we're gonna talk about chords, and then we'll be right back to it because you'll see how important that is when we talk about courts. So let's talk about court now. Ah, primarily what we're gonna be talking about here is triad. So let me explain that the definition of accord is really Ah, whenever you have more than one note at a time. So I've got a note here. I've got a note there. That's Accord. Let me get rid of this stuff. Let's just over here so that I can hear it nice and quick. Okay, here's a court. Okay, here's a court thing is gonna be an ugly one, but it's still a court because it's more than one note at a time. No, um, when we have only two notes at a time, we call that a diet and a die ad is not a very common term. So don't spend a lot of time memorizing that. Um, it's pretty rare that we have cords that are made out of only ...

two notes. If we go upto three notes, though, we have a try ad. Right, So three notes try. Try at. That's probably the most common type of cord that we have, especially in electronic music Is a chord made out of three notes. So there there's a three note court. Um, this is Ah, I just randomly put those notes down, but this is actually gonna be fairly nice one. So there's a three note chord that is a triad. A triad is the word we use for accord that is made up of three different notes. No, let me throw a little wrinkle in that for you. Uh, let's do that. This is still a triad, right? You see, four notes, but one of them Eisenach tive still try it. So when we have octaves, we can have four notes in it. But we only have in this case three notes, three different notes. Okay, so sometimes you'll see big chords that you know have a lot of notes in them. But they're actually only triads. If you get rid of all the octaves, they're only triads. So watch out for that. Um, but for now, Let's keep it simple and just talk about three note chords. Let's build our first course Now remember that, Um, you know, I said any three notes makeup triad so we could do this. And technically, yes, we have a triad. This is going to be incredibly ugly, so that's not a good one, but it's a triad. Um, what we want to focus on is building, um, specific chords, right? Not just any notes. We want to build some some chords that actually sound good. So let's build, um, one of we're gonna build two chords to start with the two most popular records a major chord and a minor chord cap. So the three notes that we need are very specific notes. Um, so we start with a note that we're going to call the root. The root is the note that the cord is named after. So if we're playing a C major chord, the route is gonna B C. If we're playing a G major chord through, it is gonna be G. If we're playing a G minor chord, the route is going to be G. So the name of the cord tells you what the root is Okay, so let's build a C major chord so the route is gonna be See? I know that the next note is I'm going to go up the scale. Let me put my scale back here. Okay, so she is my first note. Now what we do is we count up the scale and the secret here is we want the 1st 3rd and fifth. Which another way to say that would be every other note, Every other note in scale. So, thistles, the first is the second. This is the third we want. That one is the fourth through. This is the fifth And there we go. We have a major triad in C major. Okay, so let's hear this. Let me get rid of these notes. So here is a C major triad, right? We have the first, the third and the fifth. So we know what the interval of the fifth is, right? We've looked at that and we know what the interval of 1/3 is. And we know that in the key of C major, this particular third eyes a major third. And that's what makes it a major chord. If this was a minor third. It would be a minor chord, right? The fifth is the same. So the only difference between a major court an a minor chord, the is the third, the roots and the fifth are still exactly the same. So here's a major court. If I want to turn that into a minor chord, I just have to take the third down to a minor third like that. And now I have a minor chord. But now I'm not in the key of C major anymore, because that note isn't in C major. But that's OK. It was just on example. So the key to remember here is the root. The third and the fifth is what makes the major chord no matter where you are. Really? Um, the route the third in the fifth. So let's look at the difference with the major and minor chord or more time. Now we know now that the difference is the third being 1/2 step different. Right? Major, Third, minor, third major Triad minor. Try it. Right. Um, let's do this. Let's put this back to Major. I'm gonna duplicate this. I'm gonna changes to minor. Okay, so now We have a C major chord here and a seem minor chord here. Um, I want you just tow. Think about the the way these sound a little better to slow this down so we can really hear it a little bit better now, typically what we say and this is a very kind of fluffy thing to say, But, um, when we're talking about the difference between major chords and minor chords, what we say is that major chords sound happy and minor chords. Sounds sad. Um, now that all depends on the context. You can make a minor chord sound pretty happy in the right contacts. Do you feel the kind of sad quality in this one? Let me go up inactive. Let's try it Appear. Uh uh. You can hear it a little bit. I think in in this setting, it's kind of hard to hear because we don't typically do this going from a major chord with the root of sea to a minor chord with the root of C, um, switching between basically the same the court with the same route. But going between major and minor alternating like that is not a very typical core progression. Um, so you won't find that in a song very often sometimes. Um, but it's not the most common thing. So it sounds kind of strange to us to do it. Um, but hopefully you can hear kind of that sadness. Um, and the happy This, I guess the happiness, um, between the two courts, the major and the minor. And if you're looking at one of these, remember that our trick to telling if one was major minor still is all about the third. And we can just use that trick of counting half steps. 12345 That's a major chord. We don't even care about the fifth. The fifth is gonna be the same look between the major and the minor. The fifth is the same. So 1234 That's gonna be a minor. Try it. Right. Um, when we're looking at triads, if you want account half steps to tell if you're looking at a major minor chord after you get to the third, you need to count anymore. Because the fifth is always the same. We don't change that between a major and a minor chord. The fifth day is the same as does the root. The root stays the same as, well, let's make another court. Let's get rid of all this. So let's make accord. Let's stick to the key of C Major and this is where things get a little confusing. Um, so we're in the key of C major. So let me write that out again. Just going through the pattern. So in the key of C Major, let's build a G chord. Okay? I want to build a G major chord in the key of C Major. Now here's the trick. I don't really even have to specify whether or not this is going to be a major minor chord, because that major or minor third is completely dependent on what key I'm in. Right? If I build a G chord in the key of C, I go every other note. So this is now my one. That's two. That's three. That's four and then five is gonna be up here. I just have to cycle around to that again. So here is a G chord in the key of seat, so it happens to be a major court because 12345 It's going to be a major triad in the key of C. If it was minor triad, it would be like that. And that note that a sharp is not in the key of C. So the only G cord, the only cord built on G that works in the key of C major is G major, not minor. Now that is an important concept that we're going to spend the whole next section talking about that. So if that doesn't quite make sense to you, just hold on to that for just a minute. Because our next unit is all about cords that work in a given key and why that's important. Um, it is incredibly important for songwriting. Um, let's do this one more time. It's get rid of that. Let's do a d chord. Okay, So with the d chord, here's my route In the key of C d. I'm gonna skip a note. I'm gonna go after, and I'm gonna skip a note. I'm gonna go toe. So here is my D chord in the key of C major. Is this a major reminder? Record 1234 So this is a minor court so the D chord that occurs in the key of C is a minor court. More on that in the next section. So now that we know how to make a couple chords, let's put them together into a little core progression, right? Um, let's go to the next video for that.

Ratings and Reviews


this is great and very helpfull class, i make and wirte music for more than 2 decades and never gave much about theory, i trusted my feelings to what sound good and what not. Bu t recently i became interested but it all seemed very difficult to me and i didnt got the points behind music theory and how everyhing works together. This class was a game changer for me.. music theory is so simple if you have somebody to explain it in words so that you finally can understand it, and thats Anthony, he is a brilliant guy and he explains it in a simple way that you can easily understand whats going on. This is perfectly the case with this course, the sections are short and to the point, not much talking around and leaving the path, you can make fast progress end learn how music theory works, this is a 5 Star ***** course and hopefully there is more to come

Emane Filali

Fabulous course. As a person with dyslexia, trying to remember the notes and chords as letters only is impossible. I love the visual way the chords are demonstrated and explained. I was originally put off by the "electronic" aspect, thinking it was only for learning how to use piano edit roller. However, as a beginner in playing the piano, this course is applicable to all who want to learn and understand music theory in an interesting visual way. Looking forward to next lesson. Will definately be purchasing the course after. Fantastic tutor and course.

Giulio Lazaretti

Very good class!! Makes it much easier to understand and apply the rules of theory. Anthony is also very wise to suggest to trust your ears, even if what you've written doesn't fit into those same rules. I am so very grateful for you putting this together, Anthony, and for making it available for the general public, Creative Live. I am also very glad I was given the opportunity to learn english in my home country (Brazil), in which many barely know how to read and write in our own native language (portuguese) due to our public education being so bad (which, by its turn, has to do with the myriad of vile creatures that inhabit our representative chambers). Tks XoXo!

Student Work