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Chapter Three-Chords: Major and Minor Triads

Continuing with the material laid out in Chapter Two of The Improvising Clarinetist we now turn our attention to three note chords, or Triads as we refer to them in music theory. Wikipedia defines and discusses Triads here…..

I have designed some basic exercises that are a very simple introduction to chord study, but that will serve as a solid technical foundation for intermediate level players just beginning to work on chords. Triads involve the stacking of thirds, and it can be awkward at first on the clarinet to develop true technical facility with these, but practicing chords is essential to understanding the fingering system of the clarinet. Triads and all chords for that matter should be considered raw material for the improviser which can be used, in tandem with other harmonic devices, in the formulation of interesting melodic lines. They are invaluable and one of a number of resources that any improviser needs to have at his or her disposal. Again, work with this material until it becomes completely intuitive and do get away from the printed pages as soon as possible. In subsequent chapters we will expand a bit on this material, and always feel free to make up your own exercises as needed. Note that we are still concentrating on Major and Minor chords here; we will take up the discussion of Augmented and Diminished chords in a later chapter.

Major Triads Root Position or 1353

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Minor Triads Root Position or 1353

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Major Triads 3135

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Minor Triads 3135

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There are many more ways to work with triads. Experiment by adding chromatic leading tones to any of the chord tones, and learn to integrate scales and chords into your practice routines in as many ways as you can think of. Listen hard to recordings and find things that interest you on them, figure out what they consist of melodically, and begin building a jazz vocabulary that you can draw on for your improvisations.

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