These are absolutely glorious, and in all honesty have put these to practical use at least as much as the minor pentatonic and major scale patterns. I may even go as far to say I would put them in top 5 most important areas of knowledge of the fretboard for any serious guitarist.
So if you don't know them yet, get the PDFs below.
So why are these so good?
Learning the triad inversions allows you to play any chord virtually anywhere along the fretboard, giving you great control over the voicing and register of the chord.
1. Highlighting movements between chords
One aspect I love about these inversions is being able to play a range of chords and make them sound very close together, really highlighting the similarities and differences between each chord. This is much harder to get across with open chords and bar chords.
For example, if you move from Em to G to Bm to D, you can just change a single note each time between the chords. However, if you play this in open or bar chords then the sound of the closeness between chords is harder to highlight.
One way to do this is to arpeggiate the notes and highlight the different notes as the change occurs (or the mutual notes if you want to highlight the similarities).
Both in live scenarios and tracking, these inversions can really fill out a sound. Whether you just strum them or use arpeggios, using these inversions in different registers and pulling the tone from different parts of the fretboard really work to give a fuller sound.
Not only that, this also gives you options to fit in with a band context. For example, the keyboard may be playing a commanding chord riff in the same register where the open chords are. If you insist on also playing those open chords, the overall band sound can get clunky, rather than if you go up to a different register and fill out the sound more.
3. Manipulating the Chords
To do this you need to have a solid understanding of which part of the inversion is the root, 3rd or 5th, but with this you are able to add some really nice colour to the chord. For example, if you know where the root is, you can move it down to the 7th which will not only sound nice in its own right, but in the context of a band, you're not just doubling up on a note everyone else is playing, but adding some colour with the tension of a 7th.
Another example is to bring in the 2nd/9th, which can be done from either the root, or the 3rd, adding some extra colour to the chord. These are just 2 of many possibilities. The 4th is also very common and very often used as an embellishment.
4. Creating riffs
So many great riffs have been created by the movement of triads (sultans of swing, where the streets have no name etc.). The ability to have control over the voicing of the chord also gives you an ability by highlighting a melody between the chords (usually with the top note), with a bit of a fuller, more chordy sound.
One way to experiment with this is to create a short, catchy melody and try filling in around it (or below it) with some of these inversions that fit within the key. Also experimenting with different arpeggios of the triads to vary the rhythm and create melodies within each chord can produce some awesome riffs.
5. Extra Embellishments
We all know how to embellish an open D chord with the 1st string and even the 3rd, but that's pretty limiting in terms of options.
However, with these triads, the possibilities for those fancy embellishments increase drastically. Each different shape allows your fingers to reach outside notes that they wouldn't be able to in standard shapes.
Some good knowledge of where each chord sits in a key is important to pull this off well.
6. Alternative open chords
If you're like me then you'll love the sound of open chords but are probably tired of the sound of all the standard open chords. Combining these shapes with some open strings can really work to create a different sound for the chord.
One simple example is the A, rather than playing a standard A chord, keep the A and E string open but play the:
-A on the D string
-C# on the G string
-E on the B string.
This is probably the simplest of many possibilities but can really give some great variation to the sound.
Thank you for reading, for those of you who were convinced by this blog about how awesome triads are (I would honestly put them in top 5 essentials for any pro, they're so good), next week I'm going to focus on some effective ways to practice and learn these.
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