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> The Devil's In The Triad
Ben Higgins
post Aug 2 2015, 09:48 PM
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Y'all remember my lesson entitled The Devil is in the Diad? Well, not being one to waste a good pun, I'm going to look at the diad's big brother (or sister?) - the triad. No, not the Chinese gangsters, the musical triad - the three note formation of all chords.

What can we do with a triad? Well, they are usually made up of the root, 3rd and 5th but we could create a triad based upon any combo of intervals we like. For example, you could use the root, 5th and 7th.

Basically it gives us a chord and we all know what else we can do with chords apart from strum them, don't we? We can play them as a broken chord - otherwise known as an ARPEGGIO.

Now, to some people, arpeggios are what boring people would call sweeps but that's an ass backwards way of looking at things. First of all, sweep picking is a technique. Arpeggios are the the actual combination of notes we're playing USING sweep picking.

Got that? Righto!

Now, forget about having to cram in bundles of sweep picking. Sweep picking is great - we all like a bit of it now and again but arpeggios aren't there just to be swept through like a a broom through a barn floor. They are musical motifs.

Check out the first phrases of the last solo in Mr Crowley. Randy is playing triads and furthermore, they are being played as arpeggios -the notes of the triad are played separately. Short, triad based arpeggios, usually use 2 strings and can be played with a combination of picking (both alternate and economy) and hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Triad arpeggios can be extended across the neck into longer phrases. I like to use them as an occasional alternative to the popular arpeggios shapes because you can use position shifting slides to make them sound more slippery and less obvious to the listener.

Here is an ascending run using triad based arpeggios. I've included the pick strokes I used on the GPro but if you're not bothered about copying my pick strokes then treat it as a piece of music.. it's the arpeggio construction I want to impart to you, not necessarily the technique used to play them. I've included both a major and minor version. I've written the tab out as pure 16th notes but, as you can hear on the audio example, my timing is very up and down. Some notes are played faster than others in order to cram this lick in to sound how I want it to.

Attached File  Triad_Apeggio_Ascending.mp3 ( 1.22MB ) Number of downloads: 62

Attached File  Triad_Apeggio_Ascending.gp5 ( 2.33K ) Number of downloads: 35

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Now here is a descending run. The timing here is more obvious. It uses a 16th note triplet feel but notice how 2 notes have to be played faster just to make the lick retain it's 16th note feel until the end.

Attached File  Triad_Arpeggio_Descending.mp3 ( 1.32MB ) Number of downloads: 55

Attached File  Triad_Arpeggio_Descending.gp5 ( 2.47K ) Number of downloads: 34

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Both licks use a combo of economy (sweep) picking and hammer-ons and pull-offs. They also use slides occasionally. Playing arpeggios like this can be more challenging than sweeping through a shape that only spans 2 frets but I recommend exploring how you can construct arpeggios across the neck in a different way and by using triads in a more lateral way across the neck you can still be melodic and inventive.

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