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The “I Will Survive” Triad Challenge

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Hi Freteleven family! Over the past four weeks, we've been having a blast exploring the world of triads together. We've learned how to build them, where they fit in, and how to play them on our guitars. We've even looked at how the different voices of the triad move through chord progressions. Pretty cool stuff, right? But now it's time for the real fun to begin – putting all that knowledge into practice!

I'm super excited about this week's blog post because we're about to dive into a practical application of everything we've learned so far. This will give you an opportunity to internalize the understanding, sound and application of triads on your fretboard.

Are you ready? We're going to learn to play "I Will Survive" using just triads! And to make things even more interesting, we'll tackle different inversions, string sets, and keys. Trust me, it's going to be a game-changer. So, grab your guitar and let's get this party started!

And hey, whether you're brand new to triads or have been incorporating them into your playing for years and want to improve your rhythm playing, there's something in this post for you.

Step 1: Review the Previous Blog Posts

Learn Triads to Connect Chords and Become a Better Rhythm Player
A Deeper Look at Triads
A Deeper Look at Triads - Part 2
Triads and Harmony

Step 2: Get Familiar with the Song

Alright, first things first – let's get familiar with the song. If "I Will Survive" is new to you, no worries! Just take some time to really listen to it. Pay attention to when the chords change, how the bass moves, and the overall vibe of the tune. Give it a bunch of listens before diving in. Trust me, it'll make all the difference when we start playing


Step 3: Learning the Chord Progression

Alright, moving forward, let's dive into the original key, which is C Major / A minor. You can think of it as either A minor or C Major, but we'll stick with the C Major perspective to keep things simple. Now, the chords in this song might go beyond basic triads, we're just going to focus on playing the tune with triads. It's all about mastering them. One thing to notice, the Esus4 to E is outside the key of C. It brings the G# note into the key of C to use the leading note to A, creating a stronger tension to resolve Amin. This is called a secondary dominant or V7 of vi. It's not important for this exercise but some may find it interesting.

Step 4: The First Version

At first the focus is going to be on the second set of 3 adjacent strings. (Strings 2-3-4). I find that this set of strings is the most used and practical to learn first. The diagram below shows how each triad moves through the chord progressions.

Practice playing through the changes noticing the following:

  • Shape - The Type (Maj, min, dim) and the Inversion of each triad. This relates to the shape of the chords.

  • Root - Where the root of each chord is. The goal is to memorize the chord so you can recall it again or reuse it somewhere else. A good reference note is the root.

  • Relationships - The third and fifth of each chord relate to the root the exact same way in every chord, notice the pattern. This may take a while but be watching for it and it will make sense when you get to the end.

Once you know the progression without referring to the diagram, play it along with the song until it become comfortable and you are not thinking about it.

Step 5: The Root Position Amin Chord Start

Now that you have one way of playing the progression under your belt try starting with the next Amin inversion up the neck on the same string set which would be Amin in root position.

Step 6: The 1st Inversion Amin Chord Start

An finally to complete the string set start with the Amin/C which is 1st inversion and it's the next Amin chord up the next on the same strings set.

Changing String Sets Challenge

Alright, it's time for a fun and rewarding challenge! Let's take all that knowledge and play the song in 3 different ways, focusing on the first string set (strings 1-2-3). For each version of the progression, we'll start with a different inversion of the A min chord on that first string set. And hey, don't forget about voice leading – that means one note stays the same while the other two notes rise for every chord change.

Now, you might have noticed that I'm not providing any diagrams or examples for this part of the exercise. That's because I want to encourage you to experiment and figure things out on your own using the information you've learned so far. Working this our on your own has some great benefits:

  • It helps you develop a deeper understanding of triads and their inversions, as you will discover things you would not have otherwise.

  • It boosts your creativity and problem-solving skills, as you'll be exploring different ways to play the chords and voice lead.

  • It will help you connect the new skill you are learning with what you already know.

Always feel free to reach out to us on Instagram or by email (info@freteleven.com) if you would like some help with the progression on this set.

Next Steps - Many Keys

Playing what you have above in another 2 keys will further strengthen your triad skills and make them more practical to use in your playing. Try playing the above examples (string set 1 and string set 2) in each of the following keys.

G Major / Emin

Eb Major / Cmin

As we wrap up this exciting journey into the world of triads, remember that practice makes perfect. Stay patient and persistent, and you'll see the incredible impact triads can have on your guitar playing. Don't be afraid to experiment, explore, and challenge yourself – that's how we grow as musicians. Keep in mind that every great guitarist started somewhere, and with dedication, you too can reach new heights. So, let's keep the momentum going, and most importantly, enjoy every step of this musical adventure.

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