If you’re learning music theory, one of the fundamental concepts you need to understand is triads. A triad is a chord made up of three notes, each separated by an interval of a third. Triads are the building blocks of more complex chords and are used extensively in music across all genres.

Types of Triads

There are four main types of triads: major, minor, augmented, and diminished. Each type has a unique sound and can be identified by its specific interval pattern.

Finding Triads on the Piano

One way to identify triads is by playing them on the piano. To find any type of triad:

  1. Pick your starting note (the root).
  2. Count up the specific intervals for the type of triad you want to find (major, minor, augmented, or diminished).
  3. Play those three notes together.

For example, to find a C major triad:

  1. Start on the note C.
  2. Count up four half steps to E (the major third) and three more half steps to G (the perfect fifth).
  3. Play C-E-G together.

Identifying Triads in Sheet Music

Another way to identify triads is by reading sheet music. Triads are often notated as stacked notes with specific symbols indicating the type of triad.

Major Triads

A major triad is notated with a capital letter followed by a triangle symbol (∆) or the word “major” (Maj). For example, a C major triad could be notated as:

C∆ or CMaj

Minor Triads

A minor triad is notated with a lowercase letter followed by a minuscule “o” symbol (ø) or the word “minor” (min). For example, an A minor triad could be notated as:

aø or Amin

Augmented Triads

An augmented triad is notated with a capital letter followed by a plus sign (+). For example, an F augmented triad could be notated as:

F+

Diminished Triads

A diminished triad is notated with a lowercase letter followed by a small circle symbol (°) or the abbreviation “dim”. For example, an E diminished triad could be notated as:

e° or Edim

Conclusion

Triads are an essential component of music theory and provide the foundation for many complex chords and harmonies. By understanding the different types of triads and how to identify them on the piano or in sheet music, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a proficient musician.