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Piano Power: Triads
Part 2
By Richard Prokop, Greenacres Press, Inc.
(more articles from this author)
2001-03-15
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Inversions

A triad can be played in three different positions or inversions. They are: root position, first inversion and second inversion.

Root Position

Triads, as you recall, are made up of the first (root), third and fifth notes of a scale. The triads illustrated in Part 1 are all in root position and look like hamburgers neatly stacked either on consecutive spaces or consecutive lines. Root position triads are also characterized by the root of the triad being on the bottom.

Here are the twelve root position major, minor, diminished and augmented triads. Learn them really well by following these suggestions:

* Rewrite them on a separate sheet of manuscript paper.

* Play them over and over at the keyboard until your fingers just naturally fall on the correct notes.

* Be able to spell the letter names of each (C-E-G, Db-F-Ab, D-F#-A, …) out loud and very quickly, as if you were spelling simple words.

Root Position Major Triads

Root Position Minor Triads

Root Position Diminished Triads

Root Position Augmented Triads

First Inversion

Suppose we were to take the bottom note of a root position triad and transpose it up an octave while leaving the other two notes in place.

Visually, we now have a completely different structure even though the original notes (C, E, G) remain. Notice that the bottom two notes are stacked (min3) while there is a larger interval of a P4 between the middle and top notes. First inversion triads are also characterized by the third of the triad being on the bottom.

Here are the twelve first inversion major triads. Play them over and over at the keyboard until your fingers just naturally fall on the correct notes. Also, be able to spell the letter names of each (E-G-C, F-Ab-Db, F#-A-D, …) very quickly, as if you were spelling simple words.

First Inversion Major Triads

Exercise: On a separate sheet of manuscript paper, rewrite the above first inversion triads. Then, do the same using minor, diminished and augmented triads. As with the above triads, be able to spell them from the bottom up and to play them at the keyboard.

Second Inversion

Now let’s take the bottom note of our first inversion triad and transpose it up an octave while leaving the other two notes in place.

The resulting structure is different visually. The root and third (C and E) are stacked on the top while the P4 is now on the bottom. Second inversion triads are also characterized by the fifth of the triad being on the bottom.

Here are the twelve second inversion major triads. Play them over and over at the keyboard until your fingers just naturally fall on the correct notes. Also, be able to spell the letter names of each (G-C-E, Ab-Db-F, A-D-F#, …) very quickly, as if you were spelling simple words.

Second Inversion Major Triads

Exercise: Rewrite the above first inversion triads. Then, do the same using minor, diminished and augmented triads. As with the above triads, be able to spell them from the bottom up and to play them at the keyboard.

Related MusicDish e-Journal Articles:
» Piano Power: Intervals (Part 3) and Triads (Part 1) (2001-01-10)


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