How Chords Are Made - Triads & 7th chords

Chords are based on triads. A triad is a combination of three notes that together form a chord. All chords have a triad. Many chords have an extra note or two in addition to the triad, such as seventh chords. 

There is a simple formula using the major scale that can be used to determine all of the chord triads in a key. You simply select one of the seven notes in the scale and group it with the note after the following note and also with the note after the note following the note you added. In other words, pick a note, jump over the next one, add that, jump over the next one and add that one, too! Every other note. Got it? 

For example, in the key of F Major you have these seven notes:

F  G  A  Bb  C  D  E  

If you were to select F as your first note for your triad, for instance, you would group it with the A and the C. F, A, & C give you the triad for the F Major chord. Boom!

Another example…

Select A as your starting note and add the C and the E and you have the triad for the A Minor chord.

It’s as simple as taking every other note in the scale and putting them together.

To illustrate the point here are the seven triads for the seven chords in the key. The F Major Scale is in bold

  A    C           F Major chord

G   Bb  D           G minor chord

A    C    E           A minor chord

Bb  D    F           Bb Major chord

C    E    G           C Major chord

D    F    A            D minor chord

E   G   Bb          E diminished chord

To make seventh chords simply add the next note in the ‘every other note in the scale’ formula on top of your triad. Watch this!

F    A    C    E       FMaj7 chord

G   Bb  D    F       Gm7 chord

A    C    E   G       Am7 chord

Bb  D    F   A       BbMaj7 chord

C    E    G   Bb     C7 chord 

D    F    A    C       Dm7 chord

E    G   Bb   D       E7b5 chord

This formula holds true for every respective key. Try writing it out in another key and put the triads together for that key. Then make the seventh chords. 

You can use the triads to create melodies, arpeggios and other parts over your chord progressions that will sound great over those chords. This can be used to add a lot of flavor and depth to your music. 

Truman YoungComment