Beginner Guitar Lesson OnLine: Chord Theory 104

Beginner Guitar Lesson OnLine 

Chord Theory 104

Triads - What They Are and How They Work

Georgia Luthier Supply
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Interval of Thirds A.K.A. Triads:

There are two intervals that we will discuss here:

  • Minor Third, which is (3) 1/2 Steps
  • Major Third, which is (4) 1/2 Steps
  • The reason you should know this is because many chord names are derived from these two intervals.

    How Chords Are Built:

    We discussed how to locate the chords in each Major and Minor Key in the previous lesson. Now we will discuss how EACH chord is structured, in other words how each chord is built.

    Again let's start with the key of "C" or C Major. Remember our chords are: C, F, G7. The First Chord or Major Chord is built up of the Root, 3rd and 5th of the C Scale.

    This would be the notes C, E and G. That is all that comprises a C Major Chord. Refer to the illustration showing this structure and the chord diagram that's also related to these notes.

    Notice that there are (4) 1/2 Steps or (2) whole steps between the C and E and there is (3) 1/2 Steps or (1-1/2) whole Steps between the E and G.

    Looking at the diagram above notice that these notes are the Root, Third and Fifth.0

    Chord Structure: C Major Chord or "C"

    C - Count up (4) 1/2 Steps (Which is a Major Interval)

    E - Count up (3) 1/2 Steps (Which is a Minor Interval)


    Chord Structure: F Major Chord or "F"

    F - Count up (4) 1/2 Steps (Which is a Major Interval)

    A - Count up (3) 1/2 Steps (Which is a Minor Interval


    The interval of steps between notes will be the same for every Major Chord, (4) and (3) 1/2 steps. 

    In the construction of a Seventh Chord, You add another Minor Interval ABOVE the last note. In other words the notes for a G Major Chord would be G, B, D. 

    To turn this into a G7 Chord another Minor Interval would be added above the "D" Note, which would be an "F". So all (4) notes would be G, B, D and F, because F is (3) 1/2 Steps above "D".

    All Three Chords in the Key Of "C" Would be Written in the Following Diagram:

    C Major Chord
    Key of C Chords
    Reading Chord Diagrams:

    We already explained how to read the diagram in Chord Theory 101, so I won't rehash that. Here are some additional explanations of the above diagrams though:

    The Title will indicate the Key or Key Signature.

    The Green Circles indicate the string is to be played "Open" (Without and fingers on the strings).

    Each circle with a number indicates the left hand finger that is press the fret. 1 is index, 2 is middle, 3 is ring and 4 is pinky.

    When you see an Arc spanning more than one string, connected by the same finger on either end, that is a Bar Chord. You see one of these associated with the "F Major" chord above.

    You would lay your index finger down over all the strings and press them all at once. This can be a very difficult chord to play if your guitar has high action or if you are a young guitar player.

    The colored notes listed beneath each diagram indicates what note each fingered fret or open string is being played.

    The Labels beneath each chord are their full and proper names. You can shorten Major chord names to just a C, F or whatever.

    The three chords illustrated in the diagram above are the (3) basic chords in the Key of "C Major", or Key of C. Each of the Major Keys and each of the Minor Keys have 3 chords as well.

    All of these chords are construction based on the Major Intervals and the Minor Intervals as explained above.

    Chord diagrams help us to graphically show fingering patterns for all of our chords on the guitar.

    This is much easier than reading the notes off the musical staff, and it also allows guitar players that don't read music the ability to quickly and easily form the chords.

    Recommended Publications

    First Guitar Power Chords

    First Guitar Power Chords

    Instructional book and examples CD for guitar. 31 pages. Published by Amsco.

    The Complete Book Of Chords, Scales, Arpeggios For The Guitar

    The Complete Book Of Chords, Scales, Arpeggios For The Guitar

    Written by Al Politano. Instructional book for guitar. 88 pages. Published by Centerstream Publications.

    You Can Teach Yourself Guitar Chords

    You Can Teach Yourself Guitar Chords

    By William Bay. By William Bay. For Guitar (All). Chord book. You Can Teach Yourself. All Styles. Level: Multiple Levels. Book+DVD. 112 pages. Published by Mel Bay Publications, Inc.

    Essential Chords and Progressions for Acoustic Guitar

    Essential Chords and Progressions for Acoustic Guitar

    By Artie Traum. Guitar Educational. Softcover with CD. 48 pages. Published by Hal Leonard.

    Whole Book of Guitar Chords

    Whole Book of Guitar Chords

    Guitar Technique. By Dan Fox. This edition: ED3034. Guitar Method. 158 pages. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc.

    Melodic Chords for Guitar - Vol. 1

    Melodic Chords for Guitar - Vol. 1

    By David Bloom. Guitar Educational. Softcover with CD. 116 pages. Published by Bloom School of Jazz Publishing.

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