Major Triad Chords

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Major Triad Chords

A major triad chord consists of a root, a major third above the root, and a perfect fifth above the root. The distance between the third and fifth notes make up a minor third interval. Therefore, a major triad is also a minor third stacked on top of a major third.

Major Triad Construction

From a Major Scale

To construct a major triad from a major scale choose three notes from the major scale.

  • root - The root of the scale is the root of the chord
  • third - The third of the scale is the second note of the chord
  • fifth - The fifth note of the scale is the third note of the chord
These three notes from a major scale yield a major triad.

For example, to construct a C major chord from the C major scale start with the root of the scale, the C note. The notes of the C major scale are C-D-E-F-G-A-B. Now choose the third, and fifth notes from the scale: E and G. The notes of a C major chord are C-E-G. See diagram below.

C Major Chord from C Major Scale

C major chord from C major scale

Notice we started on the first note and skipped every other note until we had three notes.

From the Half-step Formula

The half-step formula for a major chord is: 4-3. That is, from the root note count up four half-steps to find the third of the chord (a major third above the root). Then count up three half-steps from the third to find the fifth of the chord (a perfect fifth above the root).

For example, to construct a G major chord using the half-step formula start at G and count up four half-steps to B. Then count up three half-steps from B to D. So the notes of a G major chord are G (root), B (third), and D (fifth). See the image below.

G major chord from half-step formula

G major chord from half-step formula

By Altering Other Chords

Major triads can be constructed by altering the notes of other triads.

  • Change a minor chord to a major chord by raising the third one half-step
  • Change an augmented chord to a major chord by lowering the fifth one half-step
  • Change a diminished chord to a major chord by raising the third and fifth one half-step

When altering a chord to become a major chord the note name stays the same. For example, altering a C minor by raising the third one half-step makes a C major. Altering a C augmented by lowering the fifth one half-step makes a C major.

Major Chords on the Guitar

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