Triads, or three note chords, are incredibly fun to play and sound great. You just learned how to play a C major triad and find yourself playing it over and over again, “C-E-G” is literally all you can think about! But after a certain amount of time, they can go from exciting to boring. They aren’t frequently used because many artists and musicians tend to find them boring after a while.
That’s not to say that the triads aren’t used in songs! Most songs still use triads, but here are some ways that you can spice them up and add a cool and unique difference to your song or cover!
1. USE ARPEGGIOS
An arpeggio is a technique that uses notes in a chord and plays them in a specific sequence, instead of all at once. An example would be playing “C-E-G-C” separately rather than playing a C major chord. Arpeggios add a familiar but catchy sound to songs. Although incredibly popular, it helps songs sound a lot cooler!
Some popular songs that use this are “Clocks” by Coldplay ,“Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele, and “Halo” by Beyoncé. The arpeggios on piano are what make these songs so catchy!
2. PLAY INVERSIONS
Inversions are used almost all the time. More than likely, you will be using them all the time as well. Inversions are when you shift the lowest tone and you make it into the highest tone, but you are still playing the same chord. An example: playing a C major chord in an inversion would be “E-G-C” instead of “C-E-G.” This can make chords sound a lot different since the root note is not on the bottom.
When you begin to play some songs, you find out that it’s a lot easier on your hands to play inversions on your chords. It’s easy to go from a C major chord, to an F major chord by playing “C-E-G” and “C-F-A” instead of moving from “C-E-G” to “F-A-C.”
3. USE BASS NOTES
This requires the use of both hands to play and can prove to be a little challenging at first, but with time can definitely be done! When playing a triad, whether inverted or not, try putting the root note in the bass. So when you play “C-E-G” try playing C down on the lower end of the piano with you left hand. It really sounds like it belongs!
After much practice, go ahead and add other notes to the bottom. Try playing a C, then an E in the left hand and play “C-E-G” in the right hand. Makes things sound a little better, doesn’t it? After that, try adding G and you have even more notes to use!
So now when you’re playing music with your friends, or you’re playing in front of your family, you have even more cool things to play for or with them! Keep practicing these methods and you’ll be one step closer to rocking those keys like the piano greats!
*BONUS TIP: Try playing popular chord progressions like C-F-G or C-G-Am-F for starters. Remember to incorporate these 3 tips into your chords!
Lorenzo H. is a RockHome Instructor that specializes in piano, guitar, and voice in Denver, CO. He is a performer and educator that is passionate about spreading awareness on all the positive benefits music has to offer. Lorenzo also contributes to the popular music blogmilehimusic.com.
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