Lesson 1: Spread Triads

Sometimes just when I think, “I know my triads”,  I find a simple exercise that proves me wrong.  Playing through some of the Bach violin partitas and sonatas got me working on different types of spread triads in all their inversions.  Spread or open triads can help create beautiful melodic shapes and sounds and I find working with them inspiring.  I can’t help but think of the prelude to the first Bach cello suite whenever I hear a spread major triad in root position.

This lesson covers a conceptually simple spread (or open) triad exercise that I wrote, which outlines the four basic triads: major, augmented, minor and diminished.  Each triad is played in root position, 1st inversion and 2nd inversion and in every key via the circle of fourths, starting on concert C major.  The notes are always ordered sequentially although skipping voices can add an even greater challenge.  By memorizing, singing and playing this exercise as well as visualizing the triads in their spread inversions clearly, you should develop a strong starting point for introducing larger intervals into your improvisation.  I play the exercise at a moderate tempo in the video, so  you can play, sing, listen or follow along with the Pdf.

Below is a Sheet Music Pdf  (in concert) and a You Tube video of the lesson.

Scribd: Spread Triads PDF

Spread Triads PDF

Spread Triads bass clef PDF

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  1. Thanks Matt,great site,just discovered it.Am going to add Lesson 1 tommorrow to my practise schedule.
    A question:Major,Minor,Augmented and Diminished….why these 4 “versions”of scales?Are these the four “inversions”?Sorry for the ignorance.

  2. Otto

    Kevyn, thanks for the message, I’m glad you’re working on the spread triad lesson. Keep in mind, these are triads not scales. A triad is a 3 note chord. There are 4 basic types of triads, Major, minor, diminished and augmented. There are 3 inversions of each triad, root position (the root is in the bass or low voice), 1st inversion (the 3rd is in the bass) and 2nd inversion (the 5th is in the bass). Perhaps getting a basic theory book will make this more clear.
    I hope that helps.
    Thanks again,

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