Song 4

  1. Triad Chords
  2. @Paradise.au
  3. Scale-tone Triads
  4. Phrasing - Arpeggios
  5. Practice - Triad Chord Qualities
  6. Session Materials


Song | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | ?? |

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S 4.1 - Triad Chord Qualities

A triad chord consists of three notes stacked at intervals of a 3rd on top of each other. When the root note is at the bottom of the stack, the chord is in root position.
In root position the three chord tones are either :

  • on successive lines of the music stave,

  • or they occupy successive spaces in between the lines of the music stave.

There are four types ('qualities') of triads.

  1. the major triad
    measured from the root it contains a major 3rd (C - E) and a perfect fifth (C = G)

  2. the minor triad
    measured from the root it contains a minor 3rd (C - Eb) and a perfect fifth (C = G)

  3. the diminished triad
    measured from the root it contains a minor 3rd (C - Eb) and a diminished fifth (C = Gb)

  4. the augmented triad
    measured from the root it contains a major 3rd (C - E) and a augmented fifth (C = G#)

The major triad can be formed by selecting the 1st, 3rd and 5th note of a major scale. (In C = C E G , in F = F A C , in G = G B D)

Other triad qualities can be formed by lowering or raising the 3rd and/or 5th of the major triad by a semitone, as shown on the following Diagram.

Audio 4.1

The major and minor triads are by far the most common triads used in Jazz and Popular music.
The diminished triad is extensively used as a passing chord in old Trad Jazz scores.
The augmented triad occurs occasionally in music scores, but can sound quite nice in contemporary Jazz improvisation.

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S 4.2 - @Paradise.au

@Paradise.au is a fictitious address for where I live at present : the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. If you ever visit Australia, and like a relaxed lifestyle, mild climate, nature and beautiful unspoiled beaches, this is the place to come to.

@Paradise.au (Melody Audio) is written in the A A B A format. This is, after the 12 bar blues, the most popular song format in Jazz.

An AABA song is usually 32 bars long and features two distinct 8 bar sections.

The first 8 bars are called the A section. This section is played twice.

Then follows the B section, commonly called the Bridge.

The final 8 bars of the song are another repeat of the A section.

The melody of @Paradise.au outlines a visual profile of the Sunshine Coast.
The A section represents the hinterland mountains and foothills which gradually descend to the sugar cane plains along the coast.
Note the triad arpeggios which form some of the mountain slopes.

Audio 4.2

The Bridge of the song represents the beach and the gently lapping waves of the surf.
Not much vertical (pitch) movement here, but considerable rhythmic activity caused by a simple motif played three times.

Audio 4.3

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S 4.3 - Scale-tone Triads

All the triad chords used in @Paradise.au are made up of notes from the F major scale. They are so-called scale- tone triad chords.
Below all possible triads contained in the F major scale. All of them, except the last one (Eo) are used in @Paradise.au.

Audio 4.4
(Audio sounds 1 octave lower than written)

This means that you can improvise over this song using one scale only (the F major scale). However it is still a very good idea to go through the standard practice routine.

  1. first play chord root tones in semibreves (4-beat notes), then using a rhythm pattern

  2. play chord tones in crotchets, then using a rhythm pattern

  3. play the F major scale in quavers. Start each time on the root tone of each chord, as shown below.

Audio 4.5

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S 4.4 - Phrasing : using Arpeggios

You can regard the written melodies of most songs included in this Improvisation 2 Course as (perhaps somewhat simplified and stylised) Jazz improvisations.

They contain useful rhythm patterns and a range of other ideas you can use in your own improvisation.

Musical interest is most commonly produced through the creation of contrast. Contrast can be produced in many different ways. Rhythmic contrast we have already explored.

@Paradise.au, as already pointed out, features a strong contrast in pitch profiles between the A section and the Bridge of the song.
A below represents the pitch profile of the first 8 bar A section.
B shows the pitch profile for the 8 bar Bridge
(The horizontal black line is the middle line of the Treble Clef).

Melody of : A section - Bridge

Experiment with contrast in pitch profiles in your own improvisations over this song. For example high profile (or much vertical pitch variation) in the A sections, and very little vertical movement in the Bridge.

Also try the other way around, little pitch variation in the A sections, high variation over the bridge.

Steep pitch slopes (going up or down) can be produced in three different ways.

  1. scale runs in quavers or shorter notes.

  2. large intervals

  3. arpeggios

Focus for this song on using triad arpeggios for this purpose (Audio 4.5).
Do not worry about the profile shape at this stage. Just experiment with creating distinct areas with large pitch variations, contrasted by areas with low pitch variation.

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S 4.5 - Practice : Triad Chord Qualities

Practice the four triad qualities in arpeggios as shown on the examples below.

  1. 4 bars for each triad quality

  2. 1 bar for each triad quality
Audio 4.6

You can also do a routine of 1 bar per chord around the Circle of Fifths.
There is one play- along track for the twelve major triads, and another one for the twelve minor triads.
Start using crotchets as shown in the example below. Once comfortable with that try also single bars in quavers (Example 1 above) and in triplets (Example 2 above).

Audio 4.7

When doing these type of exercises around the Circle of Fifths play the first note of each chord (or scale or pattern) as shown below.
The sequence alternates : a 4th up, then a 5th down, a 4th up, again a 5th down.
This way you play in a well organised manner, and flutes, saxes, etc. stay comfortably within their playing range.

Audio 4.8

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S 4.6 - Session Materials

ItemMidi filesSheet music
@Paradise.auDemo P-a-L C instr.Bb instr.Eb instr.
Triads - 1 bar each (in Co5s order) majorminorp.1p.2

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© 2003 Michael Furstner (Jazclass)