Triads

In this and the following episodes we are going to learn how to combine triads to powerful and emotional soundtracks. To this day only experienced musicians and composers can do that. But with the help of these blog posts you will learn understand these things without having note and instrumental skills.

What are triads?

Triads are combinations of three tones. They convey cheerful or sad emotions and can be full of tension and relaxation. There are natural sounding triads as well as highly strange sounding ones. Musicians who know how triads work possess a powerful compositional tool.

Music theory uses the term triad when the three tones of a chord are stacked in thirds. I.e. the first and and the second tone of the triad are a third and the second and the third tone too. There are different types of triads. But not only the triad itself influences the musical character of a piece. Furthermore it is the arrangement of triads which makes a composition special.

The good new is, that there is a clear system behind triads. In my opinion the best way to understand these system is SoundPrism together with the key related circle of thirds. While SoundPrism allows you to play triads – even if you are not able to play guitar or piano – the key related circle of thirds will help you to understand triads.

Triads at the piano

To play triads on the piano one needs to practice. The piano is optimised to play melodies. Therefore triads look complicated on it:

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Triads in SoundPrism

Opposite to the piano in SoundPrism triads are quite simple. You simply need to activate the one tone mode and play tones in three neighbouring rows.

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To ease the play of triads further, three tone mode can be activated:

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Now you only need to touch the lowest of the three rows to play a triad. The other two tones are played automatically:

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No matter which row you touch in SoundPrism, now you will always play a triad.

Triads in the key related circle of thirds

As in SoundPrism, tones of triads are neighbours in the key related circle of thirds:

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The figure above shows three tones currently playing. Every tone is represented by two concentric circles. The inner circle simply tells you, that the tone is currently playing. The outer circle also tells you that you need to touch the corresponding row in SoundPrism.

If you are in three tone mode you only need touch the lowest row in SoundPrism. The other two tones are played automatically. This is shown in the next figure. The tones that are played automatically now have an outline around them.

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Next episode

In the next episode we are going to talk about the two most important triads, i.e. the major triad and the minor triad.

Summary

  • Triads consist of two stacked thirds. Therefore triads are neighbors in the key related circle of thirds.
  • SoundPrism and the key related circle of thirds are relatives. Therefore the tones of triads are neighbors.
  • Tones that are played automatically in SoundPrism’s three tone mode are visualized without outer circle in the key related circle of thirds.’