THIS Is What Makes TRIADS Special (And Makes Them Sound SO GOOD)

THIS Is What Makes TRIADS Special (And Makes Them Sound SO GOOD)

Tommaso Zillio

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why triads are common

Is there a reason why the vast majority of chords in all music ever written are major and minor triads?

Major and minor triads are two of the countless possible types of chords, so logically it would make sense that they wouldn’t be as popular as they are.

So, what’s the reason then? Why are these two chords so incredibly popular compared to any other?

Well, it’s because of the relationship between the three notes within these chords. Let me explain.

All chords are comprised of a combination of intervals. A three note chord contains 3 intervals:

  • the interval from the first note to the second,

  • the interval from the second note to the third,

  • the interval from and the first note to the third.

A four note chord contains six intervals, a five note chord contains ten, and this number keeps growing faster and faster the more notes you add to the chord.

Now, some intervals are considered consonant, and some are dissonant (not necessarily a bad thing).

Surprising fact number 1: when a chord has four or more notes, it is physically impossible for that chord not to include at least one dissonant interval.

Surprising fact number 2: when a chord has three notes, there are just two possible combinations that will give you zero dissonant intervals.

Guess what are those combinations?

Major and minor triads.

So, the reason why these chords are so popular is because they are the only ones that lack of any kind of dissonance.

How can you use this knowledge? Well, that's where the math stops, and the music starts! Watch the video below, and I’ll explain all of this further, and show you what you can do with this information.

Want to know more about triads and other chords and the music you can make with them? Check out my Complete Chord Mastery guitar course to start immediately growing your knowledge of chords!

Video Transcription

Hello internet so nice to see you. Most of Western music is made in triads. Triads are everywhere. Everybody talks about triads, learn your arpeggios, learn your triads learn your chords, you hear this stuff all the time. The question is, why triads? Why triads are so important? Because they sound good.

We scream somebody from the bank. Okay, thank you. So why they sound good? What's happening there? Okay, some other people are gonna is gonna say, Yeah, you know, that's how we build chords, we take a note, then we take every other note in the scale, or we go up by thirds in the scale, whatever. And then we pick the first three notes. That's great, fantastic, but it still doesn't tell me why.

Why triads Besides why we pick three notes. Of course, we can pick four notes, five notes, etc. But triads are more common in all kinds of music, then, seventh chords, seventh chords are really common, but still, triads are more important in some way. Also, while they're going up in thirds, we can go up in fourth and fifth, etc. And yeah, and sometimes we do, but the still the most natural choice, they want to sounds best to most people, the one most used, it's still going up in thirds.

So why triads are so important, what makes triad sound good to our ears? Turns out, there is a very precise answer to that. So here's the thing, I need to explain to you guys. One little thing that you know, made, I read it, by the way, so stay with me for a minute, and then I'll tell you why triads have been picked this way why triad exist, and why they sound so good to us. Okay. If I play one note by itself, in music, that note has no problem.

I mean, it just exists is just you can't even tell what note it is unless you have perfect pitch if the G by the way, okay, if I play two notes, those two notes form what we call a diad or in some cases, we call it an interval, meaning that the distance between those two note tells you something and is telling you is giving you a specific feeling. And the feeling depends again, on the distance between those two notes.

Some of those feelings are nice, for lack of a better word. Some of those feelings are less nice, or even downright nasty. Okay, so we decided to divide the intervals in two categories, consonant intervals and dissonant intervals. The categorization is I'm not saying it's arbitrary, but most people do actually feel this way that there are some interesting nice and consonant and others that are not so nice and they are dissonant.

And by the way, I don't mean good or bad. Dissonant intervals are great to create drama, they're just not stable. So consonant intervals are divided in two subcategories. We don't care about those two, but just to be precise, one is perfectly consonant and one is imperfectly consonant perfectly consonant intervals are Unison Perfect Fifth, perfect fourth, and the octave imperfectly consonant are major and minor thirds major and minor six.

Dissonant intervals are seven major and minor, major and minor seconds, and all augmented or diminished interval. And there are some situation where the perfect fourth can be considered dissonant. But right now we really don't care about that. So I can choose to non so that they are consonant that I can choose two notes so that they are dissonant. I can also choose three notes. And if I have three notes, now I have three relationships to care about the relationship between note one and not to the one between note two and note three, and the one between note one and note three.

Can I choose those three notes so that they are all dissonant? Oh, yeah, definitely I can, for instance, I can pick C, C sharp, and D, that's quite hard to play on the guitar on the same octave, but I can make an effort and play them on different doctors and sound this way. Lovely. Can I pick those three notes so that some of those relationships are consonant and some more dissonant? Yes, that's actually what's happening the majority of the cases, can I pick those three notes in a way that all those relationships are consonant?

Yes. And what turns out is that those groups of three notes in which all the relationships are consonant, our major and minor triads, and only the major and the minor triads, no other combination of note as all those three relationship that turned out to be consonant. So first of all, let's see what happens with our triad. So I have a C major triad C, eg. Well, between C and E, it's a major third. It's here in the consonant been with When e and F a minor third, still in the consonant mean, and between C and G, I have a perfect fifth. Great still in the consonant mean.

So, for major, it works perfectly. What about minor? Let me take a minor, A minor, it's A, C, E, between A and C, a minor third consonant between C and E, a major third consonant between A and E, perfect fifth consonant, yay. And if I turn those notes around, and so I do all the inversion of the chords, still, all the relationships are consonant, fantastic. That's why triads are important because they are the only possible groups of three notes that are pairwise consonant meaning that all the three relationship between the notes turn out to be consonant.

The mathematical demonstration of this fact will be actually pretty easy to give. But honestly, are you guys here to see a mathematical demonstration. I mean, if I want to empty the room, I can give you the mathematical demonstration, or I can start singing the speed of escape from the room, it's pretty much comparable. So let's not do either of those things. Let's instead ask the next question, can I choose four notes so that all those notes are mutually consonant.

So if I have four notes, now I have a lot more relationship, I have 123456 relationship between four notes. Turns out, it is not possible to pick four notes so that all those relationships are consonant, there is always at least one dissonant relationship. If you don't believe me, try, I'll see you guys in a couple of weeks. But what you can do though, is you can try to pick the least possible amount of dissonance. So you try to pick notes that are as consonant as possible. So what turns out is that, hey, guess what the seventh chords turn out and the inversions turn out to be?

That turns out to be the groups of four notes that have the least possible amount of dissonance. And there we have some seven chords that have only one decent relationship like I don't know, a minor seven, so minor seven chord, the A minor seven will have an A, A, C, and E and the G.

And then they get I have to play them in a different order. And as you can see, the A and the G are dissonant because there is an interval of a seven but all the other pairs are consonant. In some other situation, I have the chords that have more than one dissonant relationship. So for instance, if I take a G seven chord contains the note G, B, D and F. Now G and F are dissonant, but also be an F or dissonant because they are a tritone. away.

So diminished fifth, okay, so there's more than one dissonant relationship. So with one or two decent relationship, you obtain the standard seven chords that you already know. Interesting. Yeah, the chords, meaning the group of notes that we use the master are the one that minimize the dissonance, either they eliminated in the major or minor triads, or they have only one or two dissonant relationships.

And the dominant chord is in general, at least in classical theory used to create movement that is more dissonance. Now, we need to move and resolve those differences. Now, again, remember that dissonance is not forbidden, okay? People will tell you dissonance is forbidden, don't listen to them. Dissonance is drama, it's not bad, it's drama, and you need some drama in your music.

You can use as much dissonance as you want. It's just that when we start studying harmony, we start from the council and stuff because it's easier to use, because when you play two triads one after the other, they pretty much always sound good, okay, especially if you expect a couple of tips here and there so that the transition between them is nice. So that's great. That's where we start. But you can go as dissonant as you want to, you can play cluster of notes where you have horrible dissonance is all together and it still will work if that's what you want to express in your music.

And if you want to know more on how to use these sentences, and now to move from the simple stuff to the complex stuff, then I recommend you guys have a look at my course complete chord mastery, complete core mastery. It's not a book. It's a complete video course that takes you from the basics up. We do everything you need to know about harmony and chords on your guitar.

All the theory is done straight on the fretboard. There is no theory for the sake of theory here. Everything is immediately practical and every Think he's developed through exercises so you know how to apply these immediately on your guitar. If you have just a minute, click on the link on the top right to check out complete chord mastery.

If you liked this video, smash that like button and don't forget to subscribe and click on notification otherwise YouTube will not let you know when I put up a new video. And if you have any comments, feedback, suggestions, write them down in the comment. I enjoy reading from you and they make videos on your suggestions. This is Tommaso Zillio for and until next time, enjoy.

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