Walking the Triad (Music Theory)

Walking the Triad (Music Theory)

Hi, my name is Jeremy, this is Red Means Recording and today I wanted to do a little video about something that I get asked about a lot and that is, how do you come up with chords? This is gonna be a introduction to that, sort of more about just the basic of chords The basics of the major triad and how I think about the major triad when I walk around it on the keyboard and do stuff with it A quick explainer on my extent of musical theory I was a classical flautist from elementary school up until the first year of college I was on track to be a music performance major I learned a lot of theory while I was taking private lessons and doing symphony and stuff like that as a young’un but I dropped out of my music performance major in my first year, so I never really got super deep into theory classes in college, so please bear with me if I’m using the wrong language, or I’m not explaining things perfectly I’m going to explain it the best I can with my musical knowledge. And yeah, hopefully it helps you out So what is a chord? We’re going to focus on the C major triad which is made of three notes from the C major scale. The C major scale is That’s c d e f g a b c all natural No flats or sharps So the C major triad and the major triad for any chord is going to be the tonic, the root note – C In this case E, the third, the major third and G, the perfect fifth You get this really pleasant, kind of boring chord There’s a couple ways that you can play this chord You don’t have to play it with C as the root note. You can play it with E as the root note Or G as the root note. That’s kind of nice And as you do that You can hear that the leading note up here, the note that you kind of hear most, kind of changes So here you hear the major third, here you hear the tonic again but it’s not the fundamental, and here you hear the perfect fifth So that’s great now we know what a major third looks like and sounds like so when I’m thinking about chords and I sit down and I play a triad, because that’s usually how I start, with a triad or a seventh chord which I’ll show off in a bit I think about how I can move from that chord to something that’s going to create tension and create room for a melody There’s a lot of ways that you can do that but the thing that led me to want to make this video is that I was thinking about the C major chord and just how much you can get from moving one finger in one direction So let’s start diving into that and I’ll show you what I mean There’s your C major chord if I move one of these fingers up and down just one note in the actual scale, as opposed to just one semi tone, which is a half step I have the ability to fundamentally change the sound in a really interesting way, in a lot of different ways. So let’s start off Here’s a C major. If I move the E up one note to this F here I get a C major suspended chord And this is really really nice Suspended chords allow you to move with sort of some nice tension between other chords So that’s one way you can move around the C major chord The other thing about the C suspended chord is that it shares a relationship, now that I’ve added that F, to F major Because the F major chord is F, A natural, and C so you can see I’m one note away from that That’s pretty nice let’s move around again, so if I move the G up one I get an A minor inverted chord, and that’s what we call, I believe when you’re playing a version of the chord that doesn’t have the name of the chord as its root note so in you know the case of C major you would be playing a C A minor would normally look like this but it’s an inversion because we have the same notes A natural, C and E. But we’re playing them in a different order so you can get Some nice major minor modulation there, which is always kind of a cool thing when you’re moving through chords You’ll also see that now I’m one step away from an F major there. So C major A minor F major So we’re already getting some cool stuff going on, just by moving our fingers around a little bit All right. So we’ve done C major, we’ve done C major sus, we’ve done A minor Let’s see what else we can do if I move the E down to a D Too much philosophy there I get a G major suspended chord and there’s the resolution of it so Suspended Resolution G major would normally be G, B natural and D but I’ve moved into an inversion of the suspended chord there And then the resolution is bringing that C down to B natural, so that’s pretty nice too One of my favorite ones coming off of C Major is the C major to an inverted E minor chord and that is moving the C down one half step to B here. So here’s our C major Inverted E minor That is just so nice, kinda Twin Peaksy, you know And then you can go from here to like All the chords that I just played are chords that I’ve shown you repositioned across the keyboard This is something I used to do quite a bit. I used to just move single notes around And see what happened and then try to figure out the relationship between what I’ve created and what I had before. If the relationship between the two sounds cool that I kind of file that away and realize that I can go between these different things Now the important thing to understand here, is that like, I’m not just playing the major triad or the minor triad Like from its normal position Almost all of these are inversions and that’s kind of what makes things interesting and brings out the movement and tension between chords for me So if I was just playing, you know, major triads I mean, that’s pretty nice But it’s kind of hokey, you know, yeah, it’s not quite as interesting to me So let’s make sure that we’ve gotten all of our inversions here and all of our things that we can do So we’ve done C major, we’ve done C major suspended, we’ve done G major suspended let’s see, what else did we do? We did A minor, which is right next to F major We did not do yet Let’s see. What was it moving No, we did that Oh this, okay So if we go from C major, up to, moving us to a D here, we get a E minor 7th, missing the perfect fifth. So an E minor 7th would be E, G and B, followed by a D We take that away, we get that and that’s kind of what we have down here. We’re just going to move this down an octave to the D I love seventh chords, seventh chords are really really beautiful There’s a lot you can do with them. I love it’s kind of dreamy, kind of vaporwavy and it’s that tension there, this B natural here is dissonant with this C here This tension that you would normally get by putting these two next to each other it’s gross, right, but if you put it up an octave and then add the major thing there. It’s just it’s really really nice And what I just did there was moved from a C major seventh and I kept that seventh in the C major scale and I moved down to F major, and you can hear this whole another tension that that’s developed there which I can resolve by bringing the B natural to The perfect fifth of the F major scale, which is the C Getting a little head of myself, but you know, it’s just fun to play these chords And by the way, this is the D-05, the Roland D-05 I’m using this to make all the wonderful sounds that you’re hearing. I’m using preset 225 I Saw The Light this thing is a pad machine. It’s just wonderful. I love it. So let’s let’s kind of wrap this up I wanted to show you that you can move through One note changes in your scale and have a huge effect on what you do and I encourage you To play around with this And once you start moving one finger around you’ll start to hear the tension that you’re creating as Some of these won’t work Some of them will need more than one finger moved But it’s a great way to practice listening to your chords And how much you can do with one or two finger movements, making small changes and listening to what makes you feel something. That’s what all this is about. It’s just like, does this make me feel something? That’s walking the Triad, as I think I’m gonna call this video, if this was interesting to you or you have anything to add, please let me know, I’d love to do more videos like this. I don’t feel highly qualified But if this was something that, you know, was useful to people, I might do more. So just let me know My name is Jeremy. This is Red Means Recording, have a wonderful day


  1. What you are doing (this moving one note at a time) is called 'tone leading' I think. For anyone who would like to look for more on the topic and doesn't know how to google this.

  2. The legend does it again, I love this tutorial. I actually needed to hear this. So many things to learn, so little time 🙂

  3. I think it's good that you're doing theory videos. I'm even less formally "learnt" than you, and I appreciate hearing from all levels, because sometimes things don't click until you hear them a certain way.

  4. Nice! I also use the “move one finger” technique when I’m feeling like something is off or I want more from my chords. Would love more theory stuff, keep up the great work!

  5. this is great, thanks for sharing. your videos and explanations are great. should you do another tutorial maybe you would consider doing something on 'syncopation', perhaps using the digitakt or op1.

  6. I am not the high and mighty OP-1 slayer that you are, RMR.
    Still, my theory is that music is more than three things going out for a stroll.

  7. Music theory is the fuckin beans man, I doubt it'll get as much reception as the OP-1 videos so fair enough if you don't want to make this a series, but personally I'm slammin that like button

  8. I'm currently studying music and this video came along just as I began learning about chord inversions and stuff, really really cool ideas to mess around with 😀

  9. This is amazing. For some reason, this clicked when I got my Ableton Push and I've started seeing chord relationships. I wonder why there are not more music theory teachers that explain these things in such a simple way, sometimes looks like the world wants us to think that basic music theory is complex when in reality you can break it down to simple formulas like 1-3-5.

  10. This was brilliant. Something I've been trying to explore and struggling a little bit with is creating tension by using notes outside of the key. Sometimes it's great but other times it's hugely jarring. If you were needing ideas for a similar video I'd love to see how you tackle this. PS. Totally bought some POs and an OP-1 after watching your videos and been having a blast and with your recent OP sound pack

  11. This is super nice!! I play the guitar and often find myself completely lost when moving to the keyboard for pads/keys parts because, well, things aren't in the places I expect them to be haha, but woah, this was a super useful and easy to grasp video!

  12. This is so helpful and really timely in my keyboard progression! I'd watch as many of these as you can do. Thank you sir!

  13. Great video! Pls do more of those… really appreciate the new angle your videos give me on my little projects!

  14. While a lot of newbies hasn't got a lot of money for keyboards and work in fl studio or logic with akai-controllers, this chords lessons will be very usefull for them. So I'm waiting for another one. It will be awesome, if you tell something about how to make simple melodies, control mood, make counter-melodies, and whats the difference between minor and major. But first of all – counter melodies is so actual) Thank you!

  15. Super vidéo, la théorie musicale avec ces pads rend le concept étudié attrayant et fun ! Keep going like this!

  16. Really enjoyed this video, it was cool to have bits of theory talked about in a more practical and accessible way

  17. dude all of your videos are amazing! You should be way more popular than you are. I love the educational stuff a lot, its super easy to learn from what you're doing. I'd love to see more!

  18. Superb insight into your mind of awesome compositions. The cool wobbly lofi sound and chord progression C -> Fadd9 at 3:30 reminded me of FEZ (Disasterpeace). Lovely!

  19. Well done, this an excellent chord introduction/lesson. I had an Aha moment when you pointed out that the Maj7 is such a beautiful sound and its inversion or companion is the minor 2nd and to the contrary is an unpleasant sound! Well, the light bulb in my head just lit up (thank you). I then realized, that the only thing that separates these two sounds (Intervals) is the space or distance between between them. I want to go on and on but I'm stopping. Great Stuff and BTW your OP-1 writing and arranging, is off the chats AMAZING

  20. Thankyou Jeremy…this is my level…and only a couple of days ago I was doing this very thing on someone's piano…exploring triads and variations..what a coinkydink.

  21. This is so helpful! I remember finding cool chords like this on the piano before I really knew what chords were and was just messing around. Goes to show how simple it is!

  22. Maybe a good thing to do is to have the Arturia horizontally straight and the Roland out of the screen or something.

  23. This was super relaxing to watch… Almost meditative. Thanks for keeping it simple. When it comes to music theory I can only take one small idea at a time & I need to process and interpret into my own haphazard way of working. I mostly see chords as shapes, so it's about adding triangles on top of triangles for me… (my music teachers never had much luck getting me to absorb the traditional methods) 😅💙

  24. very very useful, indeed. This video is a good thing. You do many good things, but this is a different kind of good thing. It's a good thing you've got so many good things.

  25. In your opinion, how durable are the pocket operators? I’ve heard some horror stories about them breaking after a year

  26. I'd like to see a video about using the Keystep effectively and creatively. I've been using my Keystep for the past year and I still feel horrible at it.

  27. Great video!! When you explain moving from a C triad (C-E-G) to the A minor by moving from G to A (so the chord goes C-E-A), you had a bit trouble naming the method. It’s called voicing. Love you videos!

  28. Been a music theory nerd for forever and I only just realized that a Csus2 is a Gsus4 inversion. Music is wild.

  29. Thanks for this video! Too often music theory videos come in at too high a level. I was inspired to hook up the Keystep to the Digitone and recorded this: https://datadeluxe.bandcamp.com/track/children-and-back-pain

  30. I know nothing about music theory. I know little about music! But that was beautifully interesting and I think I even learned a little bit. Thank you

  31. Please do more of these videos! I'm definitely the type that prefers to feel things out and teach myself, and I really appreciate lessons that are easy to grasp. You'll have a view from me on every one of these videos if you keep making them.

  32. This was very insightful for me. I swear, every video you post inspires me to pull out the old Miniak and plug away at it.

  33. This is so helpful! endless thanks man for genuinely teaching us and not just baiting partial knowledge for profit. This seems like a great exercise for learning chords

  34. So i'm curious as to how you have the synth set up into the key-step. I'd like to get both of these but as i am an idiot i was curious if i'd need a computer to get the same sounds.

  35. Has anyone told you you kinda sound like Jessie Eisenberg from Zombieland explaining the rules on how to live in Zombieland?

  36. Thank you Jeremy, I am going back to play keyboards, this lesson about chords is very interesting and you made it easy to understand without bloated mumbo-jumbo, cheers mate. Please make more videos like this for beginners :), subbed

  37. As a musician, I struggle with chords and how the sounds play together. so being able to watch and listen as you break this down is actually really helpful, even if not technically proper. Awesome work man!

  38. Watched this when you uploaded and came back now. Would love to see more! Perhaps scales, melodies with certain chords, choosing a key and knowing what goes with it. Just the tip of my iceberg. Thank you for this video!

  39. This is a really good video! I really love your instructional/showcase sort of content here. I have a bit of music theory under by belt, but only a bit, so I'd love to hear more on the process for making melodies and the like. Thanks for all this!

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