Major Triad - Two Strings (plus an explanation of inversions)
In the introduction to the Triad Arpeggios guitar lesson I talked about the three types of triads that are formed from the modes of the Major Scale: Major, Minor, and Diminished. In this exercise we are going to focus on the Major Triad.
So how we can play an F Major Triad and its inversions on two strings? Take the root position F Major Triad for instance. We can start on the B string, play an F, then play A and C on the E string. Or, we can play the F and A both on the B string then play the C on the E string. Similar with First Inversion, we can start with the A on the B string, then play C and F on E string, or play A and C on B string and F on E string. Anyway, you get the picture - there are two fingerings for a triad in root position, as well as two fingerings for each of the inversions. In the exercise you will practice playing all of these variations. You will notice that each triad sounds 'correct' over an F Major chord, but at the same time sound different. By appreciating these differences, you will be able to expand your phrasing ability yet another step further - so experiment with your own riffs and see how this simple concept can really help you take a giant step!
In the tablature, you will see I indicate fingerings. Of course play however you see fit. Also, feel free to play using alternate picking, legato, some combination. This exercise is less about technique and more about getting triads embedded in the mind!
Criteria for Mastery: Smooth execution of the exercises at high tempo (better yet, with eyes closed!) and an understanding of how to play any Major Triad on any two consecutive strings
The Major Triad is simply defined as a Major Third interval (2 whole steps) followed by a Minor Third interval (1 and a half steps). So let's look at an F Major Triad. We start from F, go up a Major Third interval (two whole steps) to A, then up a Minor Third (one and a half steps) interval to C. This amounts to taking the root, 3rd, and 5th of the Major Scale (or any mode associated with a Major Triad). That gives us F, A, C as our F Major Triad in root position.
Before continuing I want to talk about inversions. An inversion is simply a re-ordering of the notes of a Chord/Arpeggio. Considering our F Major Triad, the First Inversion would be starting from the second note - A - then moving to the C, then the F at the end: A, C, F. Referring back to the scale the inverted triad came from, we say this first inversion triad has its notes ordered as the 3rd, 5th, and root. Likewise, the Second Inversion of the F Major Triad would be starting from the third note of the triad - C - then moving to the F, then A, giving us C, F, A as the F Major Triad Second Inversion, where the note ordering is the 5th, root, 3rd.
Once we get to the second inversion, if we were to try and construct another inversion, we would see that we end up back at the F, which means we are back in root position. Below you can also see what I just described above depicted on a staff.
|F Major (root position)||F, A, C (root, 3rd, 5th)|
|F Major (1st inversion)||A, C, F (3rd, 5th, root)|
|F Major (2nd inversion)||C, F, A (5th, root, 3rd)|
One of the most important things to take away from this guitar lesson is that what I describe above is true for every Major Triad. You could pick, say Bb. Since you know a Major Triad is formed by a Major Third plus Minor Third interval, you would first go up a Major Third from Bb (two whole steps) coming to D. Then from D you would go up a Minor Third (one and a half steps) to F. So a Bb Major Triad is Bb, D, F. From there, the inversions are D, F, Bb (first inversion), F, Bb, D (second inversion).
I encourage you to pay close attention to the theoretical sidebars in my guitar lessons. The more you know about theory, the less you need to worry about chord dictionaries, etc. Theory empowers you to come up with your own approaches to fretboard visualization, be it scales, chords, arpeggios, etc. Ok, so now that we talked about some basic theory, let's play some arpeggios and not just talk about them!