What Is The BEST WAY To Find The Notes In A TRIAD?

What Is The BEST WAY To Find The Notes In A TRIAD?

Tommaso Zillio

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triad spelling methods

Is there a best way to find the notes in a triad?

Meaning: if I'm asking you "what are the notes in a G#m triad", what is the best way to find out the answer?

Yes, there’s a ton of different and correct ways you could figure this out, and all of them will lead to the right answer, so is there one particular method that is "more right than others"?

Or should you just do whatever happens to work for you?

Well, it turns out that there are just a few ways to arrive at the right answer not only as fast as possible, but with the least amount of thinking. (This is great because most musicians aren’t particularly fond of thinking!)

In the video below, I’ll share not just my preferred method for finding the notes in triads, but I’ll also share a few alternative methods that some commenters pointed out.

Of course, my method is the right one and all the others are inferior It's your pick on which method makes more sense and which one works best for you!

If you want to know even more about chords and the notes within them, I highly recommend you check out my Complete Chord Mastery guitar course. This will take you from the ground up with chords and harmony and the guitar, and teach you everything you need to know, all in one place.

Video Transcription

Tommaso Zillio 0:01

Hello internet, so nice to see you! Some time ago I posted a video on how to spell all the triads major and minor in real time. My system consists essentially in, since every file is made by a note, the not a third above, and not a fifth above, to learn the circle of fifths, by heart just so that every time you know or know to know what's the next thing that circle of fifths, they know the fifth chord, and to learn the circle of thirds by heart through so that every time you know what is the root, you can immediately tell what is the major third, and it's very little information to learn.

Because if you not use sharps and flats, you can do it in a few seconds. That was my system. And I explained in the video that it's linked on one of the corners of this video that I got a number of comments on how people are doing it differently. And there are many ways of doing it, I show you the system that works best for me.

And I think it's the fastest one. But let me show you the systems that the commenters have written. And maybe one of them will work best for you. Who knows, let's start a discussion on which is the fastest system let's see what they were suggesting.

Kamil 1:09

I have in mind a method to derive the major third from the fifth. Start from the root. I know the fifth I learned it, I had a whole tone to this note it's fit will correspond to the major third, do you think that'll work?

Tommaso Zillio 1:18

Fantastic. So how does this work? First, we are still learning the circle of fifths, okay, and the circle of fifths, I like to think the circle of fifths on a clock, okay, imagine you have a clock with 12 different locations around the circle, these are from C, G, D, A, E, D, F sharp, which is also G flat, okay, you can go the other way F, B flat, E flat, which is also the sharp of course, and a flat G zone.

So G sharp, of course, and D flat, which is also C sharp, etc, etc. So that's the, the circle of fifths. And the idea is that every time you want to know the fifth of a note, if you have this image in your mind that you can either remember CGD, A, B, F sharp, or you can just remember the image in your mind depending on how you prefer to think.

But when the time went on the fifth turbine of unknown to just go one step clockwise in the circle of fifths, for instance, the fifth of the it's a sharp, simple as that. Okay, good. That's kind of a prerequisite for my system and for the system that the commenter just explained. So this isn't a Francesco is explaining still require the circle of fifths, it works this way. Let's say you want to find the notes in C major.

Now we know it's CG, but let's let go and think his way. It was starting to say the root is C. Fantastic, then I go up and move one step to the right, because I'm moving up a fifth. And that will give me the fifth G. Now what Francesco is saying he doesn't want to do the what I was learning doing like learning the thirds by heart, he's saying, rather than doing that, I'm pretending to go up a whole step from G.

Finding the a note. Okay, we don't care about this note, it's just a step in the whole system. And then we think from a I go up a fifth. So I think a and the circle of fifths and move it up one step from the circle of fifths, that gives me the e note. And I put this e note in here, and then I just eliminate the the C eg it's the C major triad, my system is learned the fifth by heart, turn the thirds by heart and then correct Major, minor etc.

Francesca system is the 5th go up a step and the fifth of these one, and that's the major third and then correct up and down to get the minor trial and so on and so forth. If these works best for you, that's a perfectly workable system. No problem.

Kamil 4:08

Would it be just as easy to remember the intervals between the notes in the chord, then all you need is a chromatic scale, but the root note where it goes then count half steps. The next two notes, a minor triad would be root three half step four, half step majors root for three, then when getting into seventh chords, etc. Just add the next interval to your chord.

Tommaso Zillio 4:23

Ian's idea here is rather than thinking circle of fifths, let's just think chromatic scale. Okay, so you have a chromatic scale, that's fine. Again, the C major scale, the C major sorry triad, the chromatic scale, I have the notes a C, C sharp, D, D sharp, E, F, F sharp, G is the center. And what Ian is thinking is like I'm starting from the root.

That's my first note. I'm counting four, half steps up so 1234 and get into the E. Again, distance of four. Then from here, I'm counting gather 3123. And get G again, a step of three. And these gives you the chord. That's perfectly correct mathematical equivalent to the other two, of course, because I mean, we have to get the same answer at the end.

Okay? I think these a bit slower though, because people tend to be less familiar with the chromatic scale and where the sharps and flats are, and you need to count. But that's a perfectly good definition of those triads too.

And you need to get the one I used to, if you've seen my video theory from zero, that's exactly how I defined the major triads and the identity like four followed by a three, the minor triad will be a three followed by a four, so that you get C, E flat then which is same as the sharp and harmonically and then G A diminished it will be three and three and augmented triad will be four and four.

So you can do these four tries, even for seven chords. And again, if you are very familiar with the chromatic scale, and oh, by the way, the fretboard so you can count because every step in the chromatic scale is one fret, so you can go like C 1234123 G. So if you are able to do these in real time and spell the triads in real time, that system works perfectly well, too. Okay, it's just another thing. I personally think it's a bit slower. And I haven't tried this with my students. I think for most people, this is no, but you never know.

Kamil 6:27
If you know your C major scale pretty well. By that I mean the notes and every chord and the chords quality for each chord, you can use them as a basis than do the algebra. The purpose of this method is you don't have to learn any of the sharps or flats for your bases.

Tommaso Zillio 6:37

Now, once idea here, it's a different idea that works as well. The idea is that we are really, really familiar with the C major scale, because it's just the notes without sharps or flats, C D, E, F, G, A, B. And if you've been playing some music already, you're also familiar with the chords and try us in that the first triad was major C E, G, the second triad is minor DFA, the third triad is minor, EGB, and so on and so forth. And so the idea will be to use this starting point if you already know those triads, to find everything else.

So for instance, you want an E major triad, you will start in C major triad on E is minor, and it's e g, to make it major, you have to sharp the third. So go E, G sharp, the, okay, if you want on E flat major, try it instead of this, this always start from e. From from the E minor in C major, you think C major third, notice e via these minor EGB. And then you flatten the root and the fifth, and leave the third as it is. Okay.

And so you have a flat GB, that system works too. And honestly, it's also the way I was thinking when I started because it's kind of natural to start from the keys, you know, to find and branch out to the keys you don't know. And it works well with course too. The problem I see with these, though, is that it's not particularly fast.

Okay, somebody has to ask you something like the G flat minor triad, you can get confused with them number of flats, you need to put on every note. Okay? Make sense? And then they have to remember exactly what are the intervals and then work case by case. And then when you start adding calculated in the meaning she can can be confusing. And you can end up with a chord that has more than both sharps and flats.

So it's a bit of a thing. But if the system makes sense to you and work for you, definitely you can do that, too. All the systems are equivalent in the sense and mathematical equivalent in the sense that they all give the same answer. Okay, they have to because if we're given different answers, we know something is wrong. But the difference is that which one are easier for a human brain to calculate in real time?

Okay. Personally, I prefer to learn the third and fifth by item. And what happens that eventually you also learn all the intervals by heart. So whenever you have somebody is asking, giving you a note and an interval, you instantly know what is the answer. And you start from the fifth to because the circle of fifths, and then in the third just after because honestly, it's really not that hard. That's what I prefer.

But other people prefer to learn scales instead, or to learn everything in a C major and transpose like we're doing all the resistance we've seen today. All of them are good, I honestly would recommend, why don't you give a try to all the system and see what you come up with? And see if you'll find something faster. And there may not be a single correct answer here because after all, they're all slightly different.

So on a system that makes sense to me may not make sense to you. And I already know my circle of fifths by heart et cetera you may know that so maybe for you, it's easy to start with this last system where we had the C major scale so you don't have to learn the circle of fifths to get started, even if I eventually will recommend for the circle of fifths anyway because it's so useful for other things that you have. The last thing is that of course we were saying He says, it's all a matter of how much algebra you can do in your brain.

Kamil 10:07

It's actually arithmetic, not algebra, math teacher here.

Tommaso Zillio 10:09

Okay? So it still depends on our match arithmetic, arithmetic, arithmetic, I don't even know how to pronounce it in English. Okay? The thing is, I use algebra for everything. It doesn't require calculus, it's a physicist, the formation, okay? But anyway, how much calculations how much computation you can do in real time.

And it's a balance between the amount of computation and amount of things you learn by heart. And the more things you learn by heart, the less you have to compute and vice versa. At a certain point, there are only to have major triads, minor triads to either the main issue, they're all related.

So what's going to happen at the end is that whatever system you use, if you use it for a while, you're just going to learn all this triads by heart, eventually, you don't have to sit down and memorize. You don't have to, but it's just gonna happen naturally by you using those keys and playing in different keys and playing those triads on the guitar.

So I wouldn't be too concerned on what system you use as long as it makes sense to use for you and it gives the right answers. If you want to see all the strikers on the guitar and see how they connect together how to play them because every time there's multiple positions, more than 100 position on the guitar, and how to create chord progression with all that and make music with all that.

So it is not just a bunch of letters that you spit out whenever somebody asks you then I recommend you guys have a look at my course complete chord mastery we work directly on the fretboard is a course made specifically for guitar where we play all those complex harmonies from the beginning from the simple one so the complex one okay that only piano player usually play with.

We'll take everything down on the fretboard and we work our theory directly on the fretboard so you can see it and touch it and hear it as opposed to just make all these kinds of strange math and that I'm leaving you this is Tommaso Zillio for MusicTheoryForGuitar.com, and until next time, enjoy!

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