Major Triads

four assorted colour triangles
Photo by Magda Ehlers on

Triads are the basis of all western music and are indispensable to the aspiring musician regardless of style or musical preference. Every time you play a C, G, A, Am, D, E, Em etc chord on a guitar you are playing a triad.

A triad is so called because it consists of 3 notes. The 1st, the 3rd and the 5th notes of the major scale.

We could use any of the major scales, but let’s take C major first since it has no sharps or flats:

C     D     E     F     G     A     B    C

So the C major triad consists of  C, E, and G

And everytime you play a C chord on the guitar you are only playing these three notes, from bottom to top you’re playing

String   –  Note

E               –

A              C

D              E

G              G

B              C

E              E


If we take the D major scale:

D     E     F#     G      A     B     C#     D

We can see that the D major triad consists of  D, F#, and A.


To take another example; A major, we would have:

A     B     C#     D      E     F#     G#     A

A major triad = A, C#, and E.

So remember, a Major Triad is the 1st, 3rd, and 5th of the major scale


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