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The quickest way to memorize the major triads

To do this tutorial it would help if you know what major 3rds and 5ths are, but it’s not essential.


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

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

However, the quickest way to learn the major triads is not to think about major 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:

  • C, F and G are WWW
  • A, D and E are WBW
  • Ab, Db and Eb are BWB
  • B (WBB) is the opposite of Bb (BWW)
  • F# is the only one that’s BBB

To do

1) Practice the major 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 B.

Geek notes

Note that the first 3 groups are chords I, IV and V in C, A and Ab.

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