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Old July 26th, 2010, 02:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Memorizing all triads - tips and tricks?

I am in the middle of trying to get all the triads (root, 1st, 2nd) memorized. I am fine running through each of them by themselves, but once I start to try to run through a triadically harmonized (?) scale that mixes root, 1st and 2nd triads, my mind starts to boggle...

Anyone have any tips or tricks that they've used to lock these in the memory?

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Old July 26th, 2010, 02:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Flash cards.

Make 2 sets.

First set; 12 cards, each with a key written on one side.

C - Db - D - Eb - E - F - Gb - G - Ab - A - Bb - B

Next set: 4 Flash cards, each with a triad quality written on it.

Major - Minor - Dim - Aug

Shuffle both sets, but keep each pile separate.

Flip one down from each set. You may get something like, Gb Major.

Now spell the triad, aloud or to yourself, Gb, Bb, Db.

Repeat endlessly, Make sure you hit all 12 keys every day.

Carry the cards with you wherever you go, practice while waiting in line, at the dentist office, waiting for the wife, kids, etc....

This also works with scales, 7th chords, etc.
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Old July 26th, 2010, 02:21 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I don't think there's a shortcut. It's a combination of practice, for muscle memory, and understanding the theory so that it's just not rote memorization. Since you're working on chords, I assume you can play single note lines in different keys and positions on the neck. Same story for chords.

I suppose there are things like this: if you know the major triad, lowering the third yields the minor triads:

C major: xx555x xxx553 xxx988
C minor xx554x xxx543 xxx888

But when you're actually playing, you can't stop and analyze chords like this.
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Old July 27th, 2010, 03:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Triad tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryokan View Post
I am in the middle of trying to get all the triads (root, 1st, 2nd) memorized. I am fine running through each of them by themselves, but once I start to try to run through a triadically harmonized (?) scale that mixes root, 1st and 2nd triads, my mind starts to boggle...

Anyone have any tips or tricks that they've used to lock these in the memory?
Ryokan, the way I did it was assigned to me by a very good jazz guitarist in Chicago where I live. It's not exciting stuff, but it does work. Get yourself a metronome, and learn the circle of fifths (or draw it out if you need to), and get either some music paper or tab notation paper (optional). You are going to learn the four kinds of triads; major, minor, augmented and diminished, by string set (high E, B, G; B,G, D; and so on). Learn the triads in the key of C, on the first three strings, once you have those down, do F, then B flat, and so on around the cycle. The trick is to start SLOW - don't bump up the metronome setting until you can play a set error-free. Once you can play your way around the cycle of fifths on the first strong set, move to the next three strings down, and so on til you complete all the string sets. Your RH (if you are a rightly) technique can be pick only, fingers only, hybrid, whatever you wish to pursue.

Once you can negotiate the triads moving up and down the neck, for all string sets, try the challenge of playing through the cycle in one position on one string set. There's really no limit to what you can challenge yourself with; it all depends on how in-depth you need to know this stuff. George Van Eps, the late master of 7-string solo jazz guitar, wrote an entire book (a big one) filled with only triad exercises, but then again, if you are going to play jazz standards solo, you;d better know them, right?

As I said, this is dry grunt work, but it is essential to learning your instrument. Once you can play some triads and have 'em under your fingers, start using them in whatever songs you play. Just take a simple 3-chord song and learn it in as many positions and variations of traids as you can. Once you get the hang of that, try something incrementally harder. Another very good means of learning your triads is to harmonize simple melody lines in traids, with the melody note as the uppermost voice. Jazz guys call it chord melody playing. Write yourself out some simply melodies in easy keys, and try harmonizing them.

A more advanced exercise or way to goof around is to play them, but hammer, bend, pull-off or gliss one or more notes in a triad. You can add in volume swells, etc. but that's for later, once you get the basics down. And you can mix-n-match runs, scales, arpeggios, and fav licks to the basic triads all day long, not to mention build more complex sounding chords, by adding 6ths, 9ths, sus 4ths; tensions like sharp/flat 5s and 9s, etc. Once you know your triads, you'll see what all those tasty double-stiop licks come from, whether 3rds, 4ths, 6ths or whatever.

One more tip: If you are having trouble figuring this out on guitar, try noddling around on a piano; it is much more logical there; once you are cool on piano, transfer it to guitar.

Have fun and best of luck...
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Old July 27th, 2010, 03:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Triad tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryokan View Post
I am in the middle of trying to get all the triads (root, 1st, 2nd) memorized. I am fine running through each of them by themselves, but once I start to try to run through a triadically harmonized (?) scale that mixes root, 1st and 2nd triads, my mind starts to boggle...

Anyone have any tips or tricks that they've used to lock these in the memory?
Ryokan, the way I did it was assigned to me by a very good jazz guitarist in Chicago where I live. It's not exciting stuff, but it does work. Get yourself a metronome, and learn the circle of fifths (or draw it out if you need to), and get either some music paper or tab notation paper (optional). You are going to learn the four kinds of triads; major, minor, augmented and diminished, by string set (high E, B, G; B,G, D; and so on). Learn the triads in the key of C, on the first three strings, once you have those down, do F, then B flat, and so on around the cycle. The trick is to start SLOW - don't bump up the metronome setting until you can play a set error-free. Once you can play your way around the cycle of fifths on the first strong set, move to the next three strings down, and so on til you complete all the string sets. Your RH (if you are a rightly) technique can be pick only, fingers only, hybrid, whatever you wish to pursue.

Once you can negotiate the triads moving up and down the neck, for all string sets, try the challenge of playing through the cycle in one position on one string set. There's really no limit to what you can challenge yourself with; it all depends on how in-depth you need to know this stuff. George Van Eps, the late master of 7-string solo jazz guitar, wrote an entire book (a big one) filled with only triad exercises, but then again, if you are going to play jazz standards solo, you;d better know them, right?

As I said, this is dry grunt work, but it is essential to learning your instrument. Once you can play some triads and have 'em under your fingers, start using them in whatever songs you play. Just take a simple 3-chord song and learn it in as many positions and variations of traids as you can. Once you get the hang of that, try something incrementally harder. Another very good means of learning your triads is to harmonize simple melody lines in traids, with the melody note as the uppermost voice. Jazz guys call it chord melody playing. Write yourself out some simply melodies in easy keys, and try harmonizing them.

A more advanced exercise or way to goof around is to play them, but hammer, bend, pull-off or gliss one or more notes in a triad. You can add in volume swells, etc. but that's for later, once you get the basics down. And you can mix-n-match runs, scales, arpeggios, and fav licks to the basic triads all day long, not to mention build more complex sounding chords, by adding 6ths, 9ths, sus 4ths; tensions like sharp/flat 5s and 9s, etc. Once you know your triads, you'll see what all those tasty double-stiop licks come from, whether 3rds, 4ths, 6ths or whatever.

One more tip: If you are having trouble figuring this out on guitar, try noddling around on a piano; it is much more logical there; once you are cool on piano, transfer it to guitar.

See lots of good suggestions from other people on spelling the traids, that's good stuff also.

Have fun and best of luck...
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Old July 28th, 2010, 04:11 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryokan View Post
I am in the middle of trying to get all the triads (root, 1st, 2nd) memorized. I am fine running through each of them by themselves, but once I start to try to run through a triadically harmonized (?) scale that mixes root, 1st and 2nd triads, my mind starts to boggle...

Anyone have any tips or tricks that they've used to lock these in the memory?
One thing to try is to learn say the major scale 'linearly' along each of the strings, then follow that as best you can over say a three string set...

For an example, here C major written out in "2nd inversion" (ie the 5th in the bass) through an octave....

------------------------------------------------------------------------
--------5-6---8---10--12-13----15----17------------------------
--------5---7---9-10--12----14----16-17------------------------
--------5---7---9-10--12----14-15----17-------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------------------

It can be worth while to "say" to yourself as you play these things the chord and "function" and type. As in ii chord, Dm, 5th in the bass (or second inversion) for the second shape shown above. You could also add the actual notes to your mental map.

With playing these things you get a feel for these things and it will become clearer. You will start to hear the sequence. Also, you will start to "see" the triads within known chord shapes. the ii chord above can easily be seen to be a part of a Dm chord barred on the 5th fret.

Exercises like this really helped learn the fretboard and to play out of "position", it is 'tricky' at first, but I think playing them and hearing them will accelerate things and be more benefit that learning "by rote" with flash cards and such.

However, there is a place for writing things out, most of us are fairly 'visual' and the act or writing things out really helps. So, writing out the sequence as I did above can be a useful exercise. Writing out all the notes on all the strings can be useful to learn the notes. If you make such a chart, you could sit watching the TV and mark on all the shapes and things.

I used to do things like this, and at the guitar. Find an A note anywhere and know that there are Am chords everywhere. Also, they do not necessarily need to be 'close harmonies' as shown, you could have one "voice' on the low A string, one on the D and another on the B string for example.

...

The "linear thing" is particularly useful for these kinds of things and lots of harmonized two voice scales and a lot of melodic patterns. However, you should take these things and work across the strings also (in position) as well. I just found that going along the strings is going to be easier and so faster and clearer.

hope that helps...keep at it
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Old July 28th, 2010, 05:03 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Yep all good - another great way to cover triads for single line playing is to voice lead them through the scales. you can also do this with inversions - it means that the last note of any triad you play always leads by 1/2 step or step to the next one.
----------------------------------------1-3
---------------------------3-5-------3-----5
-------2-------4-5-2----4----5-2-4---------5
---2-5--3--2-5------3-5-----
-3--------5-------------------
-------------------------------
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Old July 28th, 2010, 11:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Buy the George Van Eps 'Harmonic Mechanism' books (either the 3 volumes and/or the thin, yellow book) and work through them systematically. I promise you will know triads in a profound way.
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Old July 28th, 2010, 12:04 PM   #9 (permalink)
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this is good stuff, I am delving into this with my teacher now. He has me memorizing 3 string patterns to get started rather than memorize the actual notes, which I work on too. also working on inversions, which is helping with my triad knowledge and memorization. appears that it just takes a lot of TOG (time on guitar)
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Old July 28th, 2010, 01:45 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hollowman View Post
this is good stuff, I am delving into this with my teacher now. He has me memorizing 3 string patterns to get started rather than memorize the actual notes, which I work on too. also working on inversions, which is helping with my triad knowledge and memorization. appears that it just takes a lot of TOG (time on guitar)
Yeah, i'm working with the triads as patterns and as notes at the same time, sort of flipping between them. Actually, its not that hard to memorize the triad spellings (in root position anyway!)
CEG, DFA, EGB, FAC, GBD, ACE, BDF

I've decided to take on the triads in smaller pieces, trying to take on all of them at once is just too much. So I'm going to focus on Root and 1st inversions until i have them on lockdown. Actually, for now, 1st inversion triads are probably most useful in my playing, as the root is at the top of the triad so keeping a melodic line going won't twist my brain too badly...
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Old July 28th, 2010, 03:46 PM   #11 (permalink)
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When I was drilling I "said them out loud" in every key in the cycle of 4ths and 5ths.
I also wrote them down in manuscript.
I've done every key several times over the years.
Also studied harmony and counterpoint for years, that also drills the relationships into your subconscious.
You can get lots of milage just repeating them. Away from the guitar.
Simply say, C E G Bb and etc. after a while you may find that you learn to associate the names with the tones, so much the better.
When you have that untangled you can locate them on the guitar using "string set" methods. String sets: for example, the 4 string type are, strings 1-4 (string set 1), strings 2-5 (string set 2) and strings 3-6 ( string set 3).
Do all your triads and 7th chords on those sets ascending from the lowest possible note/position. Repeat for each string set in all keys. Major minor including harmonic minor variations.
You can start with 3 string , string sets as well. Of which there are 4. I use 3 string sets a lot that forms the basis of most guitar harmony.
They also lend themselves well to pentatonic thinking.
It takes a few years to totally absorb.
Don't rush and enjoy the process.
When I was learning I had one teacher tell me ( Jack Wilkins) that if I felt overwhelmed it was only because I was trying to learn everything all at once.
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Old July 28th, 2010, 05:10 PM   #12 (permalink)
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It takes a few years to totally absorb.
Don't rush and enjoy the process.
When I was learning I had one teacher tell me ( Jack Wilkins) that if I felt overwhelmed it was only because I was trying to learn everything all at once.
That is good to hear, that it may take years. I'm not as young as i used to be, and i get worried that my old(er) brain can't remember and retain this all. That it's like learning a language, and that if you haven't done it by X age, you are sort of out of luck. But i am amazed how much i have remembered and retained so far in the process, so who knows...
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Old July 28th, 2010, 05:14 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Of course, don't stop at triads -- there are all your seventh chords: major, minor, dom, altered... extensions, quartal chords and so on
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