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Scales and Modes with Joshua Barnhart – Triads


Scales and Modes with Joshua Barnhart – Triads

So last time we talked about super imposing pentatonic scales over our chord changes. This time we’re going to stick with the same subject matter only we’re going to use triads. Triads are fundamental tools to making western music. Everything from Beethoven to Metallica is rooted in triads. Even the greatest Jazz soloist such as John Coltrane used chord tones to navigate his complicated chord changes. They’re a simple concept that everyone can grasp and will take you a long way if you use them right.

The Unique application we’re going to delve into this time is Hexatonics. The idea of overlaying two mutually exclusive triads in order to create a new 6-note scale. The first one I want to look at is two major triads a whole step apart.

Ex. D/C

C, E, G, and D, F#, A

These two triads are responsible for Cmaj7, C7, D7sus4, A-7, F#7alt, G-maj7, and more.

The more you experiment with these 2 triads the more you’ll realize how flexible these actually are. One thing I really enjoy about these is you don’t have to start on the root for the two triads to work over your chord.

Ex. B-/C

C, E, G, and B, D, F#

Playing with these two triads against and A-7 will result in an A Dorian sound with the root left unattended.

One magical thing about using triads is that the ear is so used to them that they work even if they don’t start from the root or even if you have a note that doesn’t fit the chord you’re on

Ex. B/C

C, E, G, and B, D#, F#

Playing these two triads against an E-7 chord will produce a harmonic minor sound, and will accentuate the generally avoided b6(C) interval on the Minor chord. But tastefully playing those two notes can produce songs lines, because the notes resolve by half step to a chord tone, and are part of a triadic approach that will end on chord tones. An easy way to start getting that outside sound and yet still be anchored somewhere.

I highly recommend checking out Jerry Bergonzi’s Hexatonic book. When I play Hexatonics everything just seems to sound like a right note, and sit right where I want it. It’s a simple foundation that results in great power when used correctly.

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