Piano chords and triads

chords and triads.jpg

What are chords?

Chords…You keep hearing this, but do you know what they are?

A chord is defied as two or more notes played at the same time. In popular music a chord generally has a minimum of three notes. The pitches which make up a chord are called chord-tones:any other pitches are called non-chord tones.

Chords can be related to major scales by means of scale degrees.

The chord-tone upon which the rest of the chord is built is called the root. The chord-tones of any chord can be related to the scale degrees of the major scale having the same keynote as the root of the chord.


NOTE: R is used to differentiate clearly the root of the chord from the keynote of the scale when using numbers.

Major and Minor Piano chords

Major and Minor Piano chords


What are Triads?

triad is a set of three notes that can be stacked in thirds. A major triad consists of the root, third and fifth scale degrees.

When stacked in thirds, the triad’s members, from lowest pitched tone to highest, are called:

  • the root
  • the third – its interval above the root being a minor third (three semitones) or a major third (four semitones)
  • the fifth – its interval above the third being a minor third or a major third, hence its interval above the root being a diminished fifth (six semitones), perfect fifth (seven semitones), or augmented fifth (eight semitones).

The above chords are called triadic.

Types of triads
Types of triads

For example, here is the C major triad:


c major triad


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