Chapter Five

Chords

Each note of the triad on the previous page has a name. The C note is the root. The next note above the root is called the third. The note above the third is the fifth. This should be obvious after reading the chapter on intervals. Let us construct one more triad to make sure you got the idea. Construct a triad based on the dominant in the key of G. We know the dominant is the fifth interval in the key of G. Thus, the dominant is the note D.

The TAB is provided for those beginning guitarists who find the fingering on this chord less than obvious. The tab represents the strings of the guitar and the fret position on each string. Thus, the first string is depressed on the fifth fret. The second string is depressed on the seventh fret. The third string is also depressed on the seventh fret. This is as good a place as any to stress the importance of knowing the relationship of the frets on the guitar. Most guitarists begin by learning chords within the initial three frets. While learning the chords within the initial three frets is a natural way to begin the learning process, the average guitarist should quickly learn to play chords over the entire neck of the guitar. The knowledge will pay great dividends. In any case, let us get back to theory...

The name of a triad are determined by root and the third. What is the name of the following triad?

DOMINANT D

The name of this triad is D minor. Like most people, you may be asking yourself, "How do I know this is D minor rather than D major?" Answer: Think about which sharps are included in the key of D. The sharps are C and F. Thus, the following triad is in D major. The chord at the top of the page is also D major. Thus, you can play D major in two octaves.

Chord Inversions: The root does not always have to be the lowest tone. Triads can be built when the third or the fifth is the lowest tone. If the root is the lowest tone, then the triad is in the root position. If the third is the lowest tone, then the triad is called the first inversion. If the fifth is the lowest tone, then the triad is called the second inversion. The following shows in the key of C the root position, the first inversion, and the second inversion. Play the midi file and hear the difference. It is apparent that the second inversion has a more dramatic change in sound.

Midi file of chord inversions in C

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