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The quickest way to learn the minor triads

To do this tutorial you need to have done my tutorial on major triads first.

Summary

A minor triad is a 3-note chord made up of a root, a minor 3rd, and a 5th.

  • So C-Eb-G is a major triad, because C-Eb is a minor 3rd and C-G is a 5th,
  • and Eb-Gb-Bb is a major triad because Eb-Gb is a minor 3rd and Eb-Bb is a 5th.

However, the quickest way to learn the minor triads is not to think about minor 3rds and 5ths, but to learn them in what I’m going to egotistically call Westenra groups, where the triads are arranged according to what they look like:

  • a, d and e are WWW
  • c, f and g are WBW
  • c#, f# and g# are BWB
  • b (WWB) is the opposite of bb (BBW)
  • eb is the only one that’s BBB

To do

1) Practice the minor triads in Westenra groups until you can play the whole sequence from memory.

2) Then test yourself on them out of sequence, focusing on the ones you find hardest. For most people they’ll be the ones starting on black notes and on B.

Geek notes

Notice that the first 3 groups are chords i, iv and v in A minor, C minor and C# minor.

Also, the first 2 groups of the minor triads (a, d, e; c, f, g) are a reversal of the 2 two groups of the major triads (C, F, G; A, D, E).

In the major triads, the 3rd group (Ab, Db, Eb) was a semitone below the 2nd group (A, D, E). In the minor triads the 3rd group (c#, f#, g#) is a semitone above the 2nd group (c, f, g).

The last chord (eb) is a tritone away from the first one (a), just as they were in the major triads (F# and C).

Sign up to my Piano Chords course to learn how to use minor triads in context.