Is there a difference?
A chord is when 3 or more notes sound together.
A triad is when a 3-note chord uses the root (1st note), 3rd, and 5th note of the scale.
All 3 notes sound simultaneously just like a chord.
A chord is used more as a general term while a triad tells us more specifics about that chord.
The name “triad” was given to this type of chord because it is built in the closest position possible using only 3rd intervals.
You can think of 3rd intervals as skips or every other note of a scale (C-E-G). When a triad uses 3rd intervals, it is said to be in root position with the root (or 1st note of the scale) found on the bottom of the chord.
Triads will contain either all line notes or all space notes. They can be built on any note of a scale.
The name of a triad is given by the root note (or 1st note).
Since “C” is the first note of the C major scale, we can say that “C” is the root of the C triad. Therefore, this full chord is given the name “C triad”.
How To Build A Chord Or Triad
Step 1 – Pick a scale.
Let’s use the C Major scale to keep it simple…
Step 2 – Add the 1st note of the scale to your music staff.
Step 3 – Stack the 3rd note of the scale on top of the root.
Step 4 – Now, stack the 5th note on top of the 3rd.
You now have a triad! More specifically, you now have a C triad.
It looks like a little snowman doesn’t it? I can say that since I live where it snows…
Root Position Triads
Anyways, this is what it would look like if we built a triad above every note of the C major scale.
And that is just how simple it is to build a chord or triad!