In this lesson, you’ll learn how to round out your major scale with different diminished triads. Sounds like one of the chords in a minor jazz scale. These chords sound good when they’re used as passing notes during transitions.
Diminished triads are often presented as a root, minor 3rd and diminished 5th interval.
A triad is a section of 3rds, each measure a 3rd apart. The diminished triad is made up of 2 minor thirds.
- Minor 3rd = 3 semitones (3 frets)
|Quality||Stacked 3rd Intervals||Semitones||5th Quality|
|Minor||Minor 3rd + Minor 3rd||6||Diminished|
Diminished Triads on the Fretboard
Similar to major and minor triads, diminished triads can be mapped to the fretboard using grouping of three strings. Again, we’ll have four groupings of three using strings 1-2-3, 2-3-4, 3-4-5, 4-5-6.
- Diminished Triad Shapes on Strings 1-2-3
On strings 1-2-3, we get the following note arrangements:
- Shape 1 (1st inversion): 3rd on string 3, 5th on string 2, root on string 1
- Shape 2 (2nd inversion): 5th on string 3, root on string 2, 3rd on string 1
- Shape 3 (root position): root on string 3, 3rd on string 2, 5th on string 1
After shape 3, the shapes will repeat again starting with shape 1.
- Diminished Triad Shapes on Strings 2-3-4
The note arrangements for strings 2, 3, and 4 are as follows:
- Shape 1 (root position): root on string 4, 3rd on string 3, 5th on string 2
- Shape 2 (1st inversion): 3rd on string 4, 5th on string 3, root on string 2
- Shape 3 (2nd inversion): 5th on string 4, root on string 3, 3rd on string 2
Diminished triads up the fretboard for strings 2, 3, and 4.
- Diminished Triad Shapes on Strings 3-4-5
The note arrangements for strings 3, 4, and 5 are as follows:
- Shape 1 (2nd inversion): 5th on string 5, root on string 4, 3rd on string 3
- Shape 2 (root position): root on string 5, 3rd on string 4, 5th on string 2
- Shape 3 (1st inversion): 3rd on string 5, 5th on string 4, root on string 3
Diminished triads up the fretboard for strings 3, 4, and 5.
- Minor Triad Shapes on Strings 4-5-6
For strings 4, 5, and 6, diminished triads have the following note arrangements:
- Shape 1 (1st inversion): 3rd on string 6, 5th on string 5, root on string 4
- Shape 2 (2nd inversion): 5th on string 6, root on string 5, 3rd on string 4
- Shape 3 (root position): root on string 6, 3rd on string 5, 5th on string 4
Diminished Triad Chords in Close Positions
- Root Positions and Inversions
Before you learn and start playing diminished triad chords, it is important to understand what an inverted chord is. This is an arrangement of the musical notes that are in a chord. For example, you would play the root note on the 3rd string of the guitar and then leave out that bass note.
- How to Play Diminished Triads in Close Position?
The chart below shows you some voicings of diminished triads that are closed.
|1st inversion (third in the bass)||b3||b5||R|
|2nd inversion (fifth in the bass)||b5||R||b3|
Closed guitar chords are those where the positions, fit within the space of one octave. Four diagrams below contain 12 triad chord shapes in close position divided into 4 categories:
- Triad chords with basses on the 6th string.
- Triad chords with basses on the 5th string.
- Triad chords basses on the 4th string.
- Triad chords basses on the 3rd string.
Open Voiced Diminished Triads
When you are able to play diminished triads in close position on the guitar, now it’s time to learn about open triads!
- What Are Open Triads?
The notes of an open triad are spread over more than an octave, unlike a closed triad that has its notes included in one octave.
- How to Build Open Voiced Triads?
You can drop the middle voice (so the second voice) down an octave. That’s why open triads are also commonly called “drop 2 triads.”
For a better understanding, let’s take an example with a A diminished triad. This type of triad is made up of a root (1), a minor third (b3) and a diminished fifth (b5). So there are three notes here: B, D, and F. When stacked together, the root note represents a B diminished closed voicing.
Drop the minor third up an octave, creating a new voicing B, F and D.
You can also mix-and-match these tones to get two other diminished voicings;
|Root position (root in the bass)||R||b5||b3|
|1st inversion (minor third in the bass in the bass)||b3||R||b5|
|2nd inversion (diminished fifth in the bass)||b5||b3||R|
- Chord / Minor Triad Relationships
The following table shows what notes are highlighted when playing a diminished triad over a specific chord tone. To make it easier to understand, let’s consider playing the first row as an example. When playing a diminished triad starting on the #4 of a major chord, you bring out the augmented eleventh (#11), the thirteenth (13) and the root (1) of this chord. Meaning that if you play F#dim over C major your get F# (#11), A (13) and C (1).
|CHORD TYPE||DIMINISHED TRIAD STARTING ON||TRIAD ANALYSIS||CHORD||TRIAD|
|Maj||#4||#11 13 1||C||F#dim|
|Maj7#5||#5||#5 7 9||Cmaj7#5||G#dim|
|min||6||13 1 b3||Cm||Adim|
|min7||6||13 1 b3||Cm7||Adim|
|7||3||3 5 7||C7||Edim|
|7||#4||#11 13 1||C7#9||F#dim|
|7b9||b2||b9 3 5||C7b9||C#dim|
|7b9||5||5 7 b9||C7b9||Gdim|
|7b9||7||7 b9 3||C7b9||Bbdim|
|7#9||b3||#9 #11 13||C7#9||D#dim|
|7#9||6||13 1 #9||C7#9||Adim|
|7alt||1||1 #9 #11||C7alt||Cdim|
|m7b5||1||1 b3 b5||cm7b5||Cdim|
In this lesson, we looked at diminished triads on the 7th degree of the major scale. These triads have a root, minor 3rd and diminished 5th interval. Triads are dissonant, and this makes them appealing to use as passing chords.
It can be useful to experiment with these chord shapes in your own compositions or in your jam sessions. Consider them for added flavor and spice up the music when writing progressions!
FAQ for Diminished Triads on Guitar
What are diminished triads?
The diminished triad is a chord that uses three notes: the major third, the minor third, and the perfect fifth. It is used in chords like C diminished triad, which has C-E-G as its notes.
How are diminished triads used on guitar?
There are many ways to use this chord on guitar. One way is to play it on top of an A minor triad (A-C-E). Another way is to play it with a G major triad (G-B-D).
What are the three types of diminished triads?
There are three types of diminished triads. They are the diminished triad, the augmented triad, and the diminished-augmented dyad.
The first type is the diminished triad. It is a chord that has one less note than its parent triad. The second type is the augmented triad. It is a chord that has one more note than its parent triad and it can be found in any voice leading position in a melody. The third type of diminished-augmented dyad is a chord that has two notes less than its parent major or minor chords and it can be found in all voice leading positions of a melody.
Which diminished triad is the most common?
The diminished triad is a musical chord that consists of the notes B-flat, D-flat, and G-flat. It is often used in jazz and blues music.
The diminished triad is the most common diminished triad in music. This means that it will be found in any song with a jazz or blues sound. The diminished triad is also used in classical music as well as some other types of music such as pop and rock.
The diminished triad has been around for a long time and was originally called the “diminished seventh” by theorists from the Baroque period.
What are the two types of inversions of a diminished triad?
With the inversion of a diminished triad, we can see how it is possible to create a diminished triad from two other triads.
A diminished triad is created by taking three terms and turning them into two. The first term is taken away, the second term is added, and the third term is inverted. The result will be a new diminished triad that has one less term than the original.
The two types of inversions are:
1) adding a new term to the original triad
2) inverting an existing term from the original triad.
What is the difference between a half and whole step diminished triad?
A diminished triad is a chord that is composed of three notes. A half step diminished triad is one in which the first and third notes are the same, while a whole step diminished triad has the first note different from the third.
A diminished triad consists of two notes: the root and the fifth. The root is usually played on the bass, while the fifth is usually played on either an open string or with a finger on an adjacent fret.
How are diminished triads used in music?
Diminished triads are used in music as a way to create tension and release. There is a sense of instability in these triads and they make the listener feel unsettled.
Diminished triad can be seen as an unstable chord that can be used to create tension and release. It is often used in jazz, blues, and rock music.