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Major Triads
by Roger Brotherhood

Here is a map of the major triads on the guitar. This is the relative location of the Root, Third, and Fifth of a major triad. Here's what I mean by the root, 3rd or 5th of a chord. The triad is constructed by stacking up the notes of the scale "every other note". The first note is called the Root. The second note is called the Third because it is three scale steps away from the root. The third note is called the Fifth because it is five scale steps away from the root. Check this out for yourself in a C major scale:

 
 5th -> G   A   B   C   D   E   F   G <-5 letter names from the root
 3rd -> E   F   G   A   B   C   D   E <-3 letter names from the root
 Root-> C   D   E   F   G   A   B   C
        ^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^
        C   D   E   F   G   A   B   C
       maj min min maj maj min dim maj
Here is a graphic representation of the relationships of the roots thirds and fifths of a major triad. This gives you all the possible voicings for a major triad on the fingerboard. For the minor triads, just lower the 3rd one fret.
 

 E|---|---|---|-R-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|---|---|-R-|
 B|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|---|---|-R-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|
 G|-R-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|---|---|-R-|---|---|---|
 D|-5-|---|---|---|---|-R-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|---|
 A|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|---|---|-R-|---|---|---|-3-|---|
 E|---|---|---|-R-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|---|---|-R-|
    ^-----------^-------^-----------^-------^-------^-----------^
         "G"       "E"       "D"      "C"      "A"       "G"
        shape     shape     shape    shape    shape     shape
If you look closely, you will see that the "map" can be divided into five "bar chord" areas that correspond to the five first position triad shapes. You can link these five large bar chord areas together to learn the fingerboard, then extract smaller, more easily playable triads. This "map" is entirely moveable. Be sure you try it with the root note in many places on the fingerboard. Try to relate all the chords you know to this map, even if it's just a power chord. As you play a chord, ask yourself, "Which note is the root ... which one is the 3rd ... which one is the 5th."

If you have any questions, ask your teacher to help you, or post your questions and I'll try to answer them.

Have fun ....

Rog.


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