Piano Quickie 5: Constructing Triads – Major, Minor, Augmented and Diminished Chords

In the fifth installment of the Piano Quickie series I’ll explain how to construct major, minor, augmented and diminished triads. A triad is simply a chord with three notes in it (Tri = 3). For the full Piano Quickie playlist, click here:

To follow the current lesson properly you will need to know how to construct the major scale on any note. If you’re not sure or need a refresher, check out Piano Quickie 4, which has a brief yet lucid explanation:

The Piano Quickie series is aimed at beginning musicians who want to get a grasp of the fundamental points of music theory: notes, intervals, chords, chord inversions, scales and so forth. Made of short but richly illustrated piano lessons and tutorials, this series is ideal for teaching the basics of piano theory and playing without becoming overwhelming on the one hand, or too slow and boring on the other.

What is a Triad?

A triad is simply a set of three notes, as their name implies (“Tri” stands for “Three” – think of words such as tripod, trimester, etc). Since any chord has at least three notes, triads are the simplest chord forms possible. There are four different forms of triads: major, minor, diminished and augmented. There are also some variations on these such as the sus2 and sus4 triads.

How to construct a Triad?

Suppose you want to construct all the triads based on G: minor, major, diminished and augmented. Follow these steps:
1. Locate G on the piano.
2. Construct the G major scale: G A B C D E F# G
3. Number the noters on the scale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
4. Then:
– To construct G major, play 1, 3 and 5 = G B D
– To construct G minor, play 1, b3, and 5 = G Bb D
– To construct G diminished, play 1, b3 and b5 = G Bb Db
– To construct G augmented, play 1, 3, #5 = G B D#
– To construct Gsus4, play 1, 4, 5 = G C D
– To construct Gsus2, play 1, 2, 5 = G A D
Note that “b3” means “flattened 3rd” or “lowered 3rd”, which means lowering the 3rd by one semitone. For the G major scale, this means playing Bb instead of B. Similarly, #5 means “sharp 5” or “raised 5”. For the G major scale, this means playing D# instead of D.

Other Related Videos and Playlists

Here are other interesting playlists from my channel which group together my different piano lessons by theme/category:

Reading Sheet Music for Beginners: a 4-Part Series

Inspiring Piano Harmony, Chord and Voicing Tips and Tricks:

Exercises for Developing Piano Technique

The 2-5-1 Harmonic Progression: a 4-Part Series

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