If you’re starting to learn how to play the piano, then you’ll eventually need to learn everything there is to know about the G major triad. So in this article, we’ll not only explain what it is, but show you how you can play it with both the left and right hand.
What is a G Major Triad?
Let’s begin with a few basics. A triad refers to a set of three. In music, a triad means three specific notes out of any given musical scale.
Now because we’re learning to play a G major triad, we will be using the notes from the G major scale. Here is what that looks like:
If you were wondering, the term major refers to the tonality of a piece. Major is probably the scale that you are used to hearing if you’ve ever had any kind of music lessons or took a music class in school. Songs, triads, and scales in major keys tend to invoke a feeling of happiness in the listener as opposed to songs, triads, and scales in minor keys — which invoke a feeling of sadness or melancholy.
To make that G major triad, we will be using the root — that is, the first note of the scale — the third, and the fifth. Looking at the image above, we can see that the root is G, the third is B, and the fifth is D.
Not so difficult! And now that you know what notes make up our triad, let’s learn how to locate those notes on the keyboard.
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Finding G Major Triad on the Piano
To play the notes of the G major triad, we first need to know where to find them.
Luckily, while the piano is definitely made up of a lot of keys, there is a simple navigation trick that you can use to help you find notes. If you take a look at the instrument you’re using, you’ll notice that it is made up of black and white keys. Take a look at those black keys for a moment.
They are set up in alternating groups of twos and threes all the way up the keyboard (excluding the very first one on the left if you are playing with a piano or full-sized keyboard). Noticing this pattern is very useful since once you find a way to locate a note, the same trick works regardless of what octave you are playing in.
To make that more simple : The notes just repeat over and over and they will always look the same, high or low.
Check out the picture below:
To make things easier, I have circled the sets of two in yellow and the sets of three in red. The first black key, I have circled in blue and you can ignore it for now. Do you see the pattern?
Good. It’s not time to locate our first note. Let’s start with the root: G
To locate a G on the piano, you first need to find a set of three black keys. They look this this:
The G is the white key in between the first and second black key in that set.
Again, you can start anywhere on the piano. Playing towards the left side of the piano gives you the lower notes and playing towards the right side gives you the higher notes. Just to make things a little simpler however, I would start in the middle.
That C that you see highlighted in the image above is known as Middle C. It’s the note that pianists are taught to use in order to orient themselves at the keyboard. Starting at the G right above (or below) will be a more comfortable place to start. You can sit up straight on your bench and really work on your posture as you learn your triad.
Moving on. Now that the first note is located, the next two shouldn’t be very difficult to find. You can count up on the white keys if you like, following those notes of the G major scale. If G is the first, count up two white keys to your right to find B and an additional two to the right to find D.
Or if you’d like to practice finding these two notes independently, here are the black key tricks you can use. To find B, look for the white key directly to the right of a set of three black keys. Like this:
To find D, look for a set of two black keys this time. D is the white note right in the middle of them.
The entire triad looks like this!
And that’s really all there is to it!
You know how to find the notes now, so the next step is learning how to play them!
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Playing the G Major Triad — Right Hand
As you’ve already noticed, there are a lot of keys on the piano (88 to be exact) even if you aren’t playing on a full-sized keyboard. You only have ten fingers too, so they have a lot of work to do!
To make it easier, pianists number their fingers like so:
It allows for the composer or arranger of the piece you are playing to give you suggestions on where to put your fingers. These suggestions are called fingerings and they are marked in the music by little numbers above certain notes. The numbers tell you what finger you should use to play the note and by following that suggestion, you will be placing your hand in the most efficient way to play that selection of music.
For that reason, I highly recommend that you learn to play the G major triad using the fingering I provide in this article. It will make it easier and help you to build those good habits that will really make a difference in your piano playing.
So, what all of that said, here is the fingering for the triad in your right hand.
Locate the G that you’d like to start on and place your 1st finger (your thumb) on it, exactly the way mine is placed in the picture below.
Note the rounded shape of my hand. You’ll want to make sure that your hand is nice and rounded like mine is and that your fingers aren’t bending at the first joint. It will help you build finger strength and dexterity, and practicing good technique just makes you a better player overall.
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Now that your 1st finger is down, your hand should be in a natural position to play the other two notes. Place your 3rd finger on the B and your 5th finger on the D. It should look like this:
Half way there!
Now that you’ve got the G major triad in your right hand, let’s now learn it in the left hand!
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Playing the G Major Triad — Left Hand
Since your hands are mirror images of each other (I hope!), the fingering for the left hand will be a little different than it was for your right hand.
Technique, however, should be the same! Most people are right-handed, so your left hand is naturally weaker and less dexterous than your right. Most beginners have trouble maintaining posture in their left hand, so if you find yourself having to work a little harder at it, don’t worry, you’re in good company!
It does take practice, but try to keep the fingers not in use — your 2nd and 4th — from floating away, like the image show below.
It may not affect your playing very much if you’re just playing a single triad, but trust me, it’s a bad habit you don’t want to build. Keep your hand nice and round and when you push down the keys, use the weight of your arm to help you, not your individual fingers.
So, with perfect posture and impeccable technique, locate the G of your choice and place your 5th finger (your pinky) on it, like the image shown below:
Your entire hand should now be in position. Put your 3rd finger on the G and your 1st finger on the D, again making sure that your thumb is laying on the key the way mine is.
And then when you’ve got that, go ahead and congratulate yourself! You’re now playing the G major triad in both hands!
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The Next Step
When you can play the triad in both hands, easily and naturally, you may want to take the next step!
The is plenty that you can do with a triad. Play it high, play it low, play the notes all together or play them separately (a broken triad!). Play the triad in one spot or try playing every single G major triad you can find on your instrument!
Whatever you do, make sure you have fun with it!
Another trick to make your playing sound more impressive is to add some pedal to it. If you have a piano, you may have already experimented with the pedals at your feet. The one on the right side — regardless if your piano has two or three pedals — is called the damper pedal.
What it does is keep the felt hammers inside your instrument from plopping back down on the string after you’ve struck a note. This makes any note you hit while holding down the damper pedal ring out much longer after you’ve released the note.
It sounds great with the notes of a triad, because they make up a chord.
If you don’t have a piano, don’t worry there are plenty of digital pedals available in a range of different styles and prices. Pick the one that best suites you and your price range, just make sure it is compatible with your instrument.
And now that you are G major star, check out the following songs, all originally composed in G major, and see if you can play along!
Popular Songs in G Major
You might not be able to play these pieces yet, but if any of them sound like fun to learn, it’s always nice to have something to work towards! Here are some of my favorites:
We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel
Even if you can’t sing all the words (I can’t either), you have to admit that this is a catchy song! It starts on an inverted G chord, which means that G is not on the bottom. You can try inverted triads yourself if you’d like! Just play the same notes in a different order (D,GB, or B,D,G instead of G,B,D) to add another skill to your toolbox!
Fly Away by Lenny Kravitz
This late 90’s classic is just as fun now as it was back when it was released! (Was it really that long ago?) That overdrive electric guitar you hear in the beginning starts right on a G major chord!
Eine kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart
Or, if you’re being technical, Serenade No. 13 in G major, K. 525 Movement I. This is one of those classical pieces that even if you don’t know the name, you probably know the tune! And now you know that it was written in G major!
By the way, the German name translates to “A Little Night Music” so now you know that too. Give it listen, you won’t be disappointed!
Now that you’ve got the G major triad on piano down pat, and some songs to build up your arsenal with, all that’s left is to put your new skills in action!
Becoming a good pianist requires practice, but who says that hard work can’t be fun at the same time? Practice alone, practice in front of friends and family, practice as much as you can until your movements are easy and natural!
The most important thing is that you are learning and having fun while you do it!
And when run out of stuff in G major to master, we will see you here for the next article!
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Terminology You Should Know
Here are some piano related terms that we added into this article that you should be aware of:
Triad – three notes, consisting of any given note combined with the notes three and five notes higher in the corresponding scale.
Scale – graduated sequence of notes dividing what is called an octave
Major – tonality based on a major scale, the 3rd tone being a major third above root. “Happy” sounding.
Minor – tonality based on a minor scale, the 3rd tone being a minor third above root. “Sad and Melancholy” sounding.
Root – note that establishes the tonality of a musical key, chord, or scale and gives it its name.
Octave — the distance between one note (like G) and the next note bearing its same name; eight keys apart.
Fingering – the placement of fingers in the most suitable and efficient way to play a series of notes.