Talking Technique: Talking Triads

Triads are three note chords that serve as the building blocks of functional harmony. As bass players, it’s important for us to recognize triads by ear and to know how to play them starting on each string in all keys and in all registers of the bass. We’ll focus on the major triad in this lesson to get your ears and your fingers in shape.

In this lesson, we’ll cover five important shapes for playing major triads, so we can play them no matter which string the root is on and wherever on the bass we just happen to be. Once we go through each of the triad shapes, we’ll learn an exercise to play them through the cycle of fifths and subsequently through every key.

Stay tuned through the end for a little quiz on bass lines built around triads. What bass lines do you know that feature triads?

Austrian-gone-Californian Ariane Cap is a bassist, educator, blogger and author. In her book Music Theory for the Bass Player and corresponding 20-week online course, she teaches music theory, bass technique, bass line creation and fretboard fitness in a systematic, practical and experiential way. She just released a brand new course on ear training for the bass player: Ear Confidence - 6 Paths to Fearless Ears. Contact her via her blog or website.

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  1. Tzalaran

    Lots to chew on in this video. gives me a new exercise for my harmony training. Thanks!

  2. JKotey

    Verrry cool exercise!

  3. Canu

    Why are you using your thumb on the first part of the video?

    Good lesson, thank you for sharing it.

    • Hey Canu, it is a technique called palm muting. It creates a muffled tone and is often used in reggae. I don’t think in this particular song the bassist actually uses this technique, but he sure had a very different tone and set up, so my goal by palm muting is to mimic that sound without getting that big Ampeg out of the garage ;)