Chord Theory

What are triads?
Triads are chords consisting of three notes. They are the most common type of chords in Western music. In this lesson we look at two types of triads: the major triad and the minor triad.

The Major Triad
A major triad contains three notes, which are taken from the major scale. To create a major triad, we look at the root note (‘I’), the third (‘iii’) and fifth (‘V’) note of the major scale. Let’s look at the C major scale.

The root note is C. The third note is E. The fifth note in the scale of C major is G. Thus, the C major triad consists of the notes ‘C – E – G’.

The Minor Triad
After learning how to create a major triad, it becomes much easier to create a minor triad. Where the major triad contains the first, the third and the fifth note of a major scale, a minor triad is made up by the first, the flattened third and the fifth note of a major scale. If we take a C major triad and flatten the third (i.e. lower the third note one semitone in pitch), we see that this triad contains the notes ‘C – Eb – G’.

Major Triad:
1st, 3rd and 5th scale degree

Minor Triad:
1st, flattened 3rd and 5th scale degree

Use the Wheel of Fifths Songwriting Tool to quickly see which notes are in any major or minor triad, which will help you further understand intervals, chords and much more! The Wheel of Fifths Songwriting Tool is available for purchase globally in the Wheel of Fifths Shop.

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