A triad is a chord with three notes. There are four types of triad; Major, Minor, Augmented and Diminished. These chords are constructed using the following notes from that key's Major scale:
Major : 1, 3, 5
Minor : 1, b3, 5
Augmented : 1, 3, #5
Diminished: 1, b3, b5
For example, let's make a G Augmented triad.
The seven notes in the scale of G Major are G, A, B, C, D, E, F#
To make the G Augmented chord, we use the 1st, 3rd and a sharpened 5th note from the G Major scale. In this case, the notes are G, B and D#.
INVERSIONS AND SLASH CHORDS
We usually play these chords in root position, which in the above example means we play it with the root note of G in the bass. This means that the note on the lowest string we use in this chord is G.
If we were to reconstruct the way we play the chord so that we play the 2nd note (B) in the bass, and we play the root note (G) an octave higher, we are now playing it in it's 1st inversion.
The construction of this chord is actually now B, D#, G.
This is how we construct slash chords. The note in the bass is shown after the slash. In this case, the chord would be 'G Augmented / B', (or 'G+/B', the + being the symbol for augmented.)
If we play this chord with the D# in the bass and the B an octave higher (D#, G, B) we are playing the chord in it's 2nd inversion. The chord becomes 'G+/ D#'.
BENEFITS OF LEARNING TRIADS AND INVERSIONS
By learning the various shapes we can use for the different types of triads and inversions, you can really add a new dimension to your playing. When playing lead guitar in a band or over a backing track, it is easy to get stuck in the 'one note at a time' way of running through scales. By using triads and inversions you can really start to master the fretboard and make your lead work sound dynamic.
Try playing within a 7 note scale, then a 5 note pentatonic scale. Try some arpeggios and perhaps pick the notes from within a few triads. Mix it up!
Matthew Tolfree is the webmaster at http://www.how2playguitar.co.uk, a great resource for beginners and experienced guitarists alike, featuring free lessons, twelve fret scale and arpeggio diagrams, finger exercises and backing tracks, and http://www.greatboxers.co.uk , a site featuring biographies and videos of the greatest boxers of all time.
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