Placement of Accidentals Blog 2 of 3 – Triad Accidentals

Blog 2 - Triad Accidentals

In the first blog in my Placement of Accidentals Series, we looked at Harmonic Interval Accidentals.  

In this second blog, we will look at Triad Accidentals - where the accidentals are placed for Solid (Blocked) Triads (triads with 3 notes).

Let's look at what the Triad Accidental Placement Rules are for:

  • Triads with 2 and 3 Accidentals (and the "Accidental Salute")
  • Triads written using Ledger Lines
  • Triads with Accidentals when the Given Note already has an accidental.

In Blog #3 in our Placement of Accidentals Series, we will look at what the Chord Accidental Placement Rules are (for 4 note chords).

In Lesson 7 of the UMT Basic Rudiments Workbook, we learn about Triads.

Just like the numerical prefix "tri" indicates, a triad is specifically a 3 note chord.  (Tri = 3; Triangle = 3 Sides; Triathlon = 3 Events)

A Broken Triad is written with 3 notes in a row, one note after the other (in Melodic Form).

A Solid or Blocked Triad is written with 3 notes on top of each other, one note above the other (in Harmonic Form).

Triad Accidentals - 2 and 3 Accidentals

When there are 2 Triad Accidentals, the accidental is written closest to the higher note and further away from the lower note.

This "Accidental Salute" is "Top - Bottom" - the TOP Accidental is written first, closest to the notes; the BOTTOM Accidental is written second, further away from the lower note.

When there are 3 Triad Accidentals, the highest and lowest Accidentals are written closest to the higher note and further away from the lower note.  Then the middle accidental is written furthest away from the middle note.

This "Accidental Salute" is "Top - Bottom - Middle" - the TOP Accidental is written first, closest to the notes; the BOTTOM Accidental is written second, further away from the lower note; the MIDDLE Accidental is written third and is the furthest away from the notes.

Blog 2 - Triad with 2 3 Accidentals

Triad Accidentals - Using Ledger Lines

When some or all of the notes of the Triad are written using Ledger Lines, there is no change to the Proper Placement Order of Triad Accidentals (for 2 or for 3 Accidentals).

Do NOT extend the Ledger Lines to meet the accidentals.  Simply write your Accidental parallel with the note, in the Proper Placement Order.

Blog 2 - Triad Accidentals Ledger Lines

Triad Accidentals - Adding Notes to a Given Root

When writing triads (no matter what the Quality/Type or Position), an accidental on the Given lower note may affect Proper Placement of Triad Accidentals.

When adding 1 accidental, write it to the left (further away) from the given accidental.  Never try to squish the accidental directly above the given accidental.  Never try to smush the accidental to the right of the given accidental either!

Triad Accidentals Ti Do Tip for 3 Accidentals

When adding 2 accidentals, and the given lower note already has an accidental, the Proper Placement of Triad Accidentals will be affected!

When notes use Ledger Lines, be careful to place the accidental so that it is "lined up" with the center of the note.  Do not extend Ledger Lines.  Use your UMT Ruler to check that your Accidentals are in the correct position so that the middle of the accidental would be on the same line or in the same space IF you were to extend the Ledger Lines (but, of course, you will NOT extend the Ledger Lines!).

Blog 2 Triad above Given Notes

As we learn about the Proper Placement of Accidentals, remember to take your Theory Workbook to the piano and PLAY each exercise after you have completed it.  Check your work - can you see the accidentals clearly?  Are they written neatly?  Is it super simple to see that the middle of the accidental is "on" the correct line or space?

If not, grab your eraser, and try again.  Never "settle" for "good enough" with Theory.  You can do it!

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Keep on Learning... With a Smile and a Song!

Shelagh McKibbon-U'Ren

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