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What is the Difference between a Triad and an Arpeggio

What is the Difference between a Triad and an Arpeggio

I love questions. They reflect the state of understanding of our course participants and students.

And I love watching the answers come in on our Facebook Group when the question is posted there. Some spot-on, but others adding more to the confusion revealing why precise and careful instruction is needed.

After an epic thread that contained some answers that were on top of it such as the one from our friend Mark Smith, we also had plenty of other answers that weren’t quite as accurate and may have muddied the waters a bit for our questioner.

Particularly this one, which we had in several versions:

If it is a triad, it’s three notes. If you play an arpeggio, you always add the seventh on top. (fact-check: not so)

So I made this quick video to clarify things:


difference triad and chord

Both are C major triads.

First one is played as a chord.

The second one as an arpeggio (you can also say it is “arpeggiated”).

Many ways exist to play a triad as a single chord (voicings, order of notes, inversions, what octaves… etc) and many ways exist to arpeggiate a triad, but the principle as shown above, remains the same.

Keep the questions coming!

Our questioner is part of our Cohort Course. Learn more about this unique learning experience!

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2 Replies to “What is the Difference between a Triad and an Arpeggio”

  1. Hi Ari, I feel that when someone says an arpeggio is with the 7th it is because they were taught it in a confusing manner, especially if they are only trained via bass or guitar.
    Most instructors in meat space, as well as school learning I did pre university, did not explain that arpeggiation is a how concept in contrast with playing a chord. It was piano studies that revealed that truth to me.

    1. I was so surprised so many people thought that arpeggiating a triad means including the seventh. I am on a crusade against imprecise teachings! Drives me nuts because it creates the illusion of knowing, is one problem, and it opens so much confusion that wouldn’t need to be there. Thanks for commenting, Harry! And your great review on your website, too!

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