One, Three, Five

In a Major Scale, use every other note up to the 5th note, and you have a triad:

D E F# G A B C# D

Every other note from start to fifth, is:

D F# A
1 3 5

This forms a triad. These three notes sound pleasant when played together, because they're all in the key of D Major.

Chord Key

ben folds
ben folds

Why do we need Triads? They form a basic Chord. Improvisation flows over chords changing keys.

Therefore, to improvise a melody, we must know our Key (which notes to sharp or flat). First, we find our Chord's root, called Tonic, or the 1st note of a scale.

Within a song, a chord's root is one note to which every other note revolves around, or resolves to, in sound. Play or sing some notes you hear in a particular chord. Then play up or down its key's scale, to reach the bottom or top root note.

Locating the Root, we build a triad from it. We need the Root's Key signature (which notes are sharp or flat).

If the root note is E, then E Major is a Key with sharps. Using the sharps rule:

First, move E down a half step, to D#. Second, with the Order of Sharps, count up to D# :

F C G D sharps(#)

FCGD notes are sharp now.

Use these sharps in the E Major Scale alphabet, with E as Root:

E F# G# A B C# D# E

Now, let's make our Triad: Every other note up to the Fifth (5th) note is:

E G# B

That makes the E triad.

For a simpler method, count every other note in the E scale:


Then, find the Key Signature for the correct Sharp notes in the E Major triad:

E G# B

Additionally, Triads help us to play a solo, or improvise, since we need a reference for the patterns we play. The anchors of first, third, or fifth notes marks our location in a scale.

Triads give a melodic structure, inspiring other scale types, key change prediction, and arpeggio (note pattern) creation.

Finally, Triads are both shortcuts to remember a Key, and also chords that change within a song.

Recommended reading: More about Triads

The next page is about modes that alter notes to modify a key's sound.

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