Diatonic Triads of the Major Scale

If you build a triad—on each scale degree in a major scale you get three types of chords. They are major, minor, and diminished, respectively. Simply stack thirds to create each chord. Chords stacked in thirds are called tertian chords. Figure 6-3, illustrates this in the key of C major.

The chords in Figure 6-3 are spelled out in root position and Roman numerals indicate each chord function. Like all chords, the triads of the major scale may be inverted. Since there are three notes in a triad, you can create two inversions. For example, a vi chord (A minor) can be inverted as seen in Figure 6-4.

FIGURE 6-3: Diatonic triads of the major scale

FIGURE 6-4: vi Chord inversions

At this stage, your job is to get acquainted with each diatonic triad. These chords are the basis for thousands of chord progressions in thousands of compositions and songs. Once you learn them in C major, be sure to try them in other keys too.

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