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When it comes to chords, I like to categorise chords in 3 broad categories. We have the different types of dyads which are 2 note chords, mostly used as power chords in rock/heavy music. Then we have the triads, the most commonly played chords on guitar that got 3 notes in them. Lastly we have the realm of extended chords where the possibilities are limitless. In this post we will talk about the triads.

Triads can be of 6 types. All the 6 types will be explained in the key of C. Try to remember the formula that will allow you to derive these chords from the major scale in any key.

Major triad:

Major triads are the easiest ones to understand, taking the root, the third and the fifth to construct the chord. The C major chord is as following:

Notes:     C    E   G

Formula: 1   3    5

Minor triad:

If you remember from the previous discussion, minor is the same as major with three altered notes. Remember the number 367 as all these intervals are flattened in minor. Which means C minor triad is:

Notes: C   Eb    G

Formula: 1    b3    5

Diminished triad:

The spooky sounding diminished with a tritone in it. Again, as discussed earlier, the closer the intervals, the shorter the distance between notes, the darker the sound of the chord. In a diminished triad, we not only flatten the 3rd, but also the 5th. C dim chord goes like this:

Notes:   C    Eb     Gb

Formula: 1   b3     b5

Augmented triad: 

Augmented chords got a strange sound, usually used in sci-fi background music or any genre that requires to create an interesting and strange sound but less of the evilness of diminished chords. Augmented triad is a major triad with an augmented 5th. Augment is the same as sharpening a note or moving one fret higher.

Notes: C     E      G#

Formula: 1   3   Aug5

Suspended 2 and 4:

In suspended chords, we suspend the 3rd interval of a chord and replace it with either the 2nd or the 4th. In Suspended 2 the notes are:

Notes:   C     D    G

Formula: 1   2      5

And for suspended 4:

Notes:   C      F       G

Formula: 1    4      5

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