Identifying triads quickly and accurately is an essential requirement if you want to be able to analyze and understand the music you interpret or to which you listen. Therefore, it is important to develop that skill which involves being able to identify intervals and particularly thirds and fifths.
Using your knowledge about intervals, you can identify triads quickly. One way to do it is identifying the third and then the fifth. The following table shows the combination of intervals that is characteristic of each type of triad:
Triad Third Fifth Examples Major major perfect Minor minor perfect Diminished minor diminished Augmented major augmented
You can also identify the two thirds building the chord. The following table shows the combination of intervals characteristic of each type of triad:
Triad First 3rd. Second 3rd. Examples Major Major Minor Minor Minor Major Diminished Minor Minor Augmented Major Major
Alternative for Identifying Triads:
Knowing well the type of triad built on each scale degree can help you identify triads rapidly.
A few examples:
C minor . Here, the key is B flat major. The chord is formed on the second degree. Triads built on the second degree of major scales are always minor triads.
C# major . Here, there are two ways of identifying the type of triad.
- First, you can notice that the key is A major. A triad built on the third degree of major scales is minor; however, here, the third of the chord has become a major third since it was raised. Therefore, the triad is major.
- Or you can also notice that the key is F# minor. E# is characteristic of harmonic and melodic minor scales. Therefore, in both cases, the chord built on the fifth degree is major.