arpeggios vs. triads

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arpeggios vs. triads

Postby d-v-s » Thu Mar 27, 2008 12:51 am

i've never had any formal music training, and I;m trying to get the vocab worked out. I hear this term arpeggios tossed around a lot. I've come to understand that it means playing the notes of a chord in quick progression, rather than at the same time. For example, an arpeggio for C maj could be: C E G.

G|---0--
D|--2---
A|-3----
E|------

Did I interpret that correctly?

Is this the same thing as a triad? Would the only difference be that arpeggios can be extended beyond 3 notes (C E G C E G), and triads are limited to 3 notes (hence the tri- prefix)?
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Postby BlobWeird » Thu Mar 27, 2008 4:01 am

Well Im certainly no theory buff but Im pretty sure that a triad is a chord, not an arpeggio. At least thats the common way to look at it. Garcia used alot of triads. The most common being the 1 3 5 of the scale.
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Postby wisedyes » Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:21 am

Triads are composed of the 1-3-5 notes of a scale that make up the chord in question - i.e. 1-3-5 for Major or dominant chords, or 1-b3-5 for minor chords. Arpeggios add in the extensions ( 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, b7ths, #5ths, etc. ) to flesh out the colors.

For instance, a straight C major triad is just C-E-G. Kind of boring and vanilla, though. So make it a C Major 9 by adding a D in the upper octave - C-E-G-D. Make it a C Major 6 by throwing in an A : C-E-G-A. A C Major 7th by adding in the B note: C-E-G-B.

Realistically, if you are in a band setting, the 3rds and 7ths and any color tones ( b/# 5ths, 9ths, 13ths, etc ) are all you need to play to give the ear more than enough information to hear the chord. The bass player and/or keyboardist will be playing the root notes anyway.
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Postby Crazy 9.5 Fingers » Thu Mar 27, 2008 10:55 am

I would say to look at a triad as any three tone chord.

An arpeggio is a series of notes belonging to a chord.

For example, if you were to play a C major triad, as long as you play a C, E, and a G in any order, that being with any of them as the lowest tone in the chord and (simultaneously), you have played a C major triad.

If you wanted to play a C major arpeggio, you would play C, then E, and then G, and most likely repeat at the next octave. You could always start at any of the three tones but keep the intervals and notes true to that of the chord.

When you add more tones to the chords, such as 6's, Dominant or Major 7's, etc, you would add those tones to the arpeggio. But only the tones of the chord.

For example to make your C Major arpeggio a C major 7 arp, you would play C, E, G, B.

When you want to play a triad of a chord that has more than 3 tones, such as this Major 7, you would normally remove either the root or even the 5.

Put simply, Arpeggios rock. I used to run series of arpeggios practicing all the time and they are a great way to get from one position on the neck to another while being musical.

Think of this scenario. Go sit at a piano. Start at middle C.

Play C, E, G one after another. Then D,F, A. Then E, G, B. The F, A, C, then G, B, D then A, C, E, then B, D, and F.

You have just harmonized the C Major scale with arpeggios.

Do the same but play triads instead of arps. and you have harmonized the C Major (Ionian) Scale in chords.

Now bask in your own glory.
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Postby Rev_Roach » Thu Mar 27, 2008 8:02 pm

not sure this is "by the book" but i would think of it as

triad - set of 3 notes forming a basic chord (maj, min, dim, aug)

arpeggio - the practice of playing the notes of any chord in successive ascending or descending order, the notes are not strummed/struck/picked/plucked/blown/sang/produced/begun/ simultaneously


my apologies for the thesaurus impression

edit: successful -> successive
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Postby d-v-s » Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:51 am

hey guys, thanks for the feedback. That clears it up for me. Looks like with triads you play the 3 notes of the chord simultaneously, and with arpeggios you play as many notes of the chord as you like in quick progression.

seems, I've been using arpeggios to work on my finger picking, and I didn't even know it. Similar to the example 9.5 gave for the piano, i've been working the major chord arpeggios up and down the neck. like this for Dmaj:

E|--2--3--5--7---9----10----12----14
B|-3--5--7--8--10---12----14----15--
G|2--4--6--7--9---11----12----14----

playing each arpeggio a couple times before going to the next.

thanks again for the info.
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Postby cunamara » Sat Mar 29, 2008 10:14 am

Warning: too much information alert.

A chord is a group of notes played simultaneously. A chord can be defined in different ways in different music theory systems, but we'll stick to the diatonic system used by the Dead and virtually everyone else in the Western world.

A triad is a group of three notes. This is generally going to be a major, minor, augmented or diminished chord consisting of three notes chosen from a scale, each of which is assigned a numerical value starting on the "root" note of the scale. "Root" = "1." The C major scale:

C D E F G A B

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

The interval- the distance between the notes describing their relationship to one another- is the crucial unit to understand. From one fret to the next on any string is a half-step. Two frets is a whole step. Any scale is a collection of intervals. The major scale consists of seven intervals and the are arranged like this, starting from the root:

whole whole half whole whole whole half

That means that the distance from the root to the second is a whole step, from the second to the third is a whole step, from the third to the fourth is a half step, from the fourth to the fifth is a whole step, from the fifth to the sixth is a whole step, from the sixth to the major seventh is a whole step, and then from the major seventh to the octave is a half step. Play the major scale up the 5th string from C to see the relationships. This set of relationships is the same for every major scale, no matter what note you start on.

A good musician doesn't really play notes, they play intervals. Intervals have emotional weight to them and pull the music in different directions. The Dead played the intervals, the spaces between the notes.

A major triad chord is made of the root, major third and fifth intervals: C E G is the C major chord. The intervals are a major third (C to E) and a minor third (E to G). Make sure you see those relationships. A minor triad chord is made of the root, minor third and fifth: D F A. Make sure that you see those intervals, too. Major and minor chords occur naturally within all keys.

Diminished chords and augmented chords are rarely used in rock music, but the Dead used them frequently (e.g., Ship of Fools, The Music Never Stopped). A diminished chord is made up of two minor third intervals- in the key of C: B D F (root, minor third, minor third) and an augmented chord is made up of two major third intervals (say, G D C). Of note, diminished chords occur naturally in all keys but augmented chords do not occur naturally in any key. That's why they always sound dissonant. I can't offhand recall any Dead tunes with an augmented chord. The minor seventh flat five (min7b5) chord is very close to the diminished chord (Terrapin Station has them in several places).

An arpeggio is the notes of a chord played individually, often in sequence but not necessarily. Fingerpicking is a form of playing arpeggios. Arpeggios are often played as lines- bass players do this all the time and soloing instruments, too. Listen to Ben Webster or Clifford Brown; you can hear them outlining the harmony of the song in arpeggios and thus you can actually hear the chord sequence in their solos- if there was no accompaniment you could still follow the chords. Jerry did this, too, although he was also a strongly modal player (there are other threads on that).

Someone above confused chord additions (9ths, 11ths, 13ths, etc.) with arpeggios. That's incorrect. Those additions are called extensions. Sometimes your will come across the term "altered" chord which generally means playing a chord with the or ot two notes changed a half step higher or lower:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altered_chord

Hope this helps!
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Postby Mick » Mon Mar 31, 2008 5:49 am

Great post! But I didn't get this:

an augmented chord is made up of two major third intervals (say, G D C)


G to D is 7 half steps and then D to C is 10 half steps. I don't see an augmented chord in there. I think I agree with your description of the augmented chord being two major third intervals, I think of it as a sharped 5th, but if I get you correctly, that is just another way of saying what you said. So a G augmented would be G B D#. Let me know if I have left the reservation here.
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Postby cunamara » Tue Apr 01, 2008 4:35 pm

Mick wrote:Great post! But I didn't get this:

an augmented chord is made up of two major third intervals (say, G D C)


G to D is 7 half steps and then D to C is 10 half steps. I don't see an augmented chord in there. I think I agree with your description of the augmented chord being two major third intervals, I think of it as a sharped 5th, but if I get you correctly, that is just another way of saying what you said. So a G augmented would be G B D#. Let me know if I have left the reservation here.


Ya didn't get that 'cuz I done f***ed it up. Some kind of brain fart, G D C is of course not an augmented chord. I don't know what thick air I picked those notes out of. You're correct, a G augmented (notated in many charts as a G+) is G B D#. G -> B is a major third and D -> D# is a major third. You're right that an augmented chord always has a raised 5th and that's how I think of it when playing. Two major thirds is just the intervallic structure of the chord.
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