Tip #149 – Cheat-Sheet for Using Definitive Triads

The concept of definitive triad – while not commonly known – is very easy to understand and master.

It is using two adjacent diatonic triads of piece of music’s scale or mode to harmonize an entire melody.

Each melody note will be harmonized be either one of the two definitive triads in relation to its chord tone. Of course, there will be one remaining pitch that will not have a direct harmonization to one of the two definitive triads. In a simple exemption to the rule: use any diatonic triad containing that note to harmonize.

Below is a cheat-sheet on what chords within their respective scales or modes work best as the two definitive triads for harmonization:

So, a melody based in the mode of B Lydian will use the I and II chords… the B major triad and C# major triad. Because of the combination of those two chords { B , C# , D# , E# , F# , G# }, the A# is the note left-out… and thus, can be harmonized by any triad of your choice that is diatonic to the B Lydian scale.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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