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Triads get you on your way to a better understanding of how even the most familiar chords are built.

One of my favorite teaching techniques is asking simple questions such as; why are my fingers on these particular strings at these particular frets?, if I'm playing six different strings am I playing six different notes?, where does the chord get it's name from? In other words, what makes a chord tick?

With a little digging and some basic music stuff a lot of mystery can be taken out of what's going on under you fingers.

G Major Type 1

Both of these chords share the same name but have some obvious differences. Clearly the fingering isn't the same but moreover, look closely at the notes illustrated for each chord. If you scrap all the repetitive notes your left with only G, B and D - the same three notes for both chord forms!

G Major Type 2

The red dot at the second string shows how one of the basic three notes is swapped for another without changing the chord name.

So what makes a G chord? - G, B and D!

Now let's see if the same holds true for another type of G chord -

Regular G Major Chord

When we compare the notes of a regular G at the end of the neck and a G bar chord, again we get G, B and D. Proof that we're on the right track.

G Major Bar Chord

This line of reasoning also suggests any G major chord is made of the same three notes. That's a bare minimum of three or a maximum of six in any combination on a regular guitar.

So we dig a little deeper...

Small G Chord

These are just a couple of examples of the way a simple G major chord can be manipulated. The possibilities become a little intimidating when you consider if this is true for G major it must be true for all other major chords in all forms.

Another Small G Chord

Not to worry, you have to start somewhere. If you take your time and keep poking away at these ideas they'll stick eventually.

And what about minor chords?

Regular A Minor Chord

Check out the note combinations of these two forms of A minor. Trash all the repeaters and what's left?

A Minor Bar Chord

Yep, that's right, only three notes. A, C and E. That means all the stuff we figured out for simple major chords also applies to minors! Well now, it is a brave new world isn't it!

You may be wondering why only three notes and where do they come from?

Stick around and you'll find out.

Back to the original questions;

- Why are my fingers on these particular strings at these particular frets?

Answer; Because that's where the right notes for that chord are.

- If I'm playing six different strings am I playing six different notes?

Answer; Nope, just lots of the same three in a simple major or minor chord.

- Where does the chord get it's name and notes from?

Answer; From the scale from which it's built. But that's another story.

Guitar Divider

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