5 Ways to Improve Diatonic Triads

This lesson works through 5 ways that you can begin improving (and expanding) the use of Diatonic Triads. From layering parts to swapping out chords, you'll learn a collection of easy to apply techniques that will help you start applying triads in more ways, more often...

For a lot of guitar players who are possibly unfamiliar with these small 3-note triads, in this lesson, you’ll get a chance to begin applying them.

And, for those of you who already understand the triad, I’m pretty sure that you’ll walk away learning a few new ways of applying them into your guitar playing…


Example 1).
If you are perhaps not all too familiar with what Diatonic Triads are, they are simply a collection of 3-note chords that exist within a key signature.

For example, in the key of “C Major,” there is a group diatonic triads that exists upon every note of the major scale:

When composing music, we can use the versatility of playing these smaller 3-note chord shapes to create interesting phrasing that can be utilized upon any common chord progression that can exist within the key…

Lean an example of this:

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Example 2).
Another cool idea for using smaller 3-note triad shapes is based upon when you would want to produce a change in sound.

An example of this would be something like instead of playing common power chords or open position chords, we could apply triads instead.

I've created an example below that takes a power chord progression in the key of “F Major” and converts it to a 3-note style triad riff.

 click the above image to enlarge full-screen

Example 3).
Another way of applying the diatonic triads is through layering or replacing another existing group of chords already being used in a song.

For example, let’s say that perhaps you had a really basic group of chords from the key of “G Major” all within the open position and you either wanted to layer or replace them with the keys’ diatonic 3-note triads. Here’s an example of how that would work:

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Example 4).
Another interesting idea when using diatonic triads is how some of them have a similar sound. This is due to shared notes that exist in the 1st, 3rd and 6th chords, as well as, shared notes in the 2nd and 4th chords.

You can take advantage of this by using the shared chords so that they swap out for each other in a progression.

Here’s a key of “C Major” example that swaps out the 1st and 6th (C and Am) …along with the 2nd and 4th (Dm and F).

 click the above image to enlarge full-screen

Example 5).
The last example that I have for you takes the 3-note triads and uses them in a way that focuses on their application through arpeggiated phrases that are combined with the use of linear scale tone runs.

The 3-note triad pattern can work nicely to establish the chord quality, and the scale run is great for operating as a connecting line across the overall harmony.

Here’s a riff that I put together in the key of “E Minor.” This riff applies the concept of using scale lines around the triads.

 click the above image to enlarge full-screen

I hope that this lesson on diatonic triads helps you start thinking about chords differently when you play riffs.

There are a lot of topics in music that you can practice when it comes to being able to write better song riffs. Your skills for using; scales, chords, phrasing and music theory are all really important within this topic area.

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