Music Theory

Chapter 3 : Introduction to Triads and Seventh Chords

• Tertian chords : built on thirds • Triad : a three-note chord consisting of a 5th divided into two superimposed 3rds.
There are four possible ways to combine major and minor 3rds to produce a tertian chord. *Aural Skills exercise Checkpoint Self-test 3-1

Seventh Chords
• Seventh Chords : a tertian chord with an added 3rd above the 5th (creating an interval of a 7th between the root and highest note) • Tonal harmony makes use of only 5 different types of seventh chords, though there are many more *Aural skills checkpoint Self-test 3-2

Inversions of Chords
• Not all chords are built with the root on the bottom • In context, any note may appear as the lowest, but only the lowest note matters • Inversion : transfer of the lowest note to a higher octave • Root position : root as lowest tone • First Inversion : 3rd as lowest tone • Second Inversion : 5th as the lowest tone

Inversions of Chords

*Aural Skills Exercise

Inversion Symbols and Figured Bass
• Derived from Baroque system of figured bass or thoroughbass

Figured Bass
• Three methods used by Baroque composers to direct a keyboard player on how/what to play.
– 1. An accidental next to an Arabic numeral in the figured bass could be used to raise/lower a note – 2. An accidental by itself referred to the 3rd above the bass and could be used to alter that note – 3. A slash or plus sign in connection with an Arabic numeral meant to raise that note

In context…

Inversion Chart
The inversion symbols we are use are summarized below. They are usually used with a roman numeral as part of a harmonic analysis.
Bass Position
Root Position First Inversion Second Inversion Third Inversion

Triad Symbol
(none) 6 6 4 (none)

Seventh Chord Symbol
7 6 5 4 2 4 or 2 2

Lead Sheet Symbols
• We still use similar symbols and music-reading methods as in the Baroque era • Jazz, Rock, Pop, and other twentieth-century styles employ the use of lead sheet symbols • All systems meant to provide the performer with information/instructions on how to improvise within certain bounds
– *Self-test 3-3 – Checkpoint – *Self-test 3-4

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