By Tyler Larson
The most important chord in music isn’t all that subjective. This chord is the only answer to a question that isn’t asked enough, and I’m here to deliver the message to the masses, for better or for worse.
The most important chord in music is also the foundation of music: the triad.
Before you blow up your keyboards explaining why I’m wrong, hear me out. I’ve thought a lot about this subject before writing about it.
My thoughts are based on years of guitar playing, a degree’s worth of higher education and, most importantly, countless hours sitting in rooms with some of the best guitar players on the planet. These guitar players, who are also teachers, are all extremely different musicians. They range from shred lords like Joe Stump and Don Lappin to funk gurus like Tomo Fujita and David Fiuczynski to jazz masters like Mick Goodrick and Dave Tronzo.
Each of these people described triads as the basis of all their musical ideas and tendencies. Without getting too deep, triads consist of three of the most basic notes–a root, third and fifth, which are then built upon to form any extended or unconventional chord type. There are four tonalities—major, minor, augmented and diminished—and there exist two alternate inversions for each type on all four string-sets.
That knowledge in itself is enough to drive any non-theory buff into the abyss, which is why I think triads don’t get the recognition they deserve. While I go into great detail on triads in my course Guitar Super System, there are plenty of examples of them in your favorite guitar players’ playing, from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughan to Eric Clapton and many more, whether they realized what they were doing or not.
Triads will help you become more versatile in your rhythm playing, more dynamic in your lead playing and more expressive overall, so give the most important chord some attention! You won’t be disappointed.