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Ambiguous triads

Ambiguous triads sound interesting because their quality (major, minor, etc.) isn’t obvious. Open chords, which I talked about in earlier posts, fall into this category.

http://davewallmusic.com/open-chords-and-dadgad/

http://davewallmusic.com/dadgad-two-string-open-chords/

http://davewallmusic.com/dadgad-three-string-open-chords/

 

Major and minor triads

The main thing that determines chord quality is the nature of the third above the root. It can be either major or minor. The C major triad (for example) has these notes:

 

  • C E G

 

The C minor triad has these notes:

 

  • C Eb G

 

In these cases C/E is a major third and C/Eb is a minor third (In case you’re not familiar with intervals: count from the first note (C) to the second note (E) – C, D, E – and the number of notes names the interval).

 

In ambiguous triads there’s no major or minor third above the root. This can lead to interesting sounds.

 

Scale-tone triads

A good way to work with this idea is to use scale-tone triads. Here are my posts on that.

 

http://davewallmusic.com/?s=scale-tone+triads+1&submit=Submit

http://davewallmusic.com/scale-tone-triads-2/

http://davewallmusic.com/?s=scale-tone+triads&post_type=post&submit=Submit

 

So take the major shape…

 

gmaj 3 note in chord box

 

…and find the third. For this triad, it’s on the G string. Remember, this is the note you need to change for another.

To do that, all you have to do is move the third either higher or lower. Try moving the note as far up or down the string as you can.

Do the same with the minor shape. The third is on the G string in this chord, too.

 

scale-tone min chord

 

As you work with this, you’ll notice that the new chord shapes are the same for both major and minor triads. This speaks to the ambiguous nature of these chords. When you get rid of the third of a chord, the chord could be either major or minor. Or neither.

If you want different chord shapes, you can move the other two notes in the triad around, too. This is a nice way of exploring new sounds.

 

Triads on all string sets

Here’s a link to major and minor triads on all string sets. Diminished, augmented, and suspended triads are on this chart, too, if you want to play around with those.

 

https://simonherring.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/just-like-buses-here-are-some-triads/triads-first-inversion/

 

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