Hobbies Playing Music Constructing Tonic Triads Share PINTEREST Email Print Eugenio Marongiu / Getty Images Playing Music Music Education Basics Music History Music Lessons Music Theory Playing Guitar Playing Piano Home Recording By Espie Estrella Espie Estrella is a lyricist, songwriter, and member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International. our editorial process Espie Estrella Updated May 24, 2019 First, let's define each word separately; "tonic" pertains to the first note of a scale, while "triad" is defined as a chord consisting of 3 notes. Hence, a "tonic triad" means a chord of three notes, with the lowest note being the tonic (first note) of a scale. The tonic triad is always made up of the 1st (tonic) + 3rd + 5th notes of a scale. Tonic triads are built on thirds because the interval between the tonic and the middle note (3rd note of a scale) is a third; the interval between the middle note and the highest note (5th note of a scale) is also a third. Use these steps to help you form tonic triads: First, learn how to play major and minor scales. Major Scales: C Major Scale: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-CD Major Scale: D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#E Major Scale: E-F#-G#-A-B-C#-D#F Major Scale: F-G-A-Bb-C-D-EG Major Scale: G-A-B-C-D-E-F#A Major Scale: A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G#B Major Scale: B-C#-D#-E-F#-G#-A#C# Major Scale: C#-D#-E#-F#-G#-A#-B#Eb Major Scale: Eb-F-G-Ab-Bb-C-DF# Major Scale: F#-G#-A#-B-C#-D#-E#Ab Major Scale: Ab-Bb-C-Db-Eb-F-GBb Major Scale: Bb-C-D-Eb-F-G-A Natural Minor Scales: C Minor Scale: C-D-Eb-F-G-Ab-Bb-CD Minor Scale: D-E-F-G-A-Bb-C-DE Minor Scale: E-F#-G-A-B-C-D-EF Minor Scale: F-G-Ab-Bb-C-Db-Eb-FG Minor Scale: G-A-Bb-C-D-Eb-F-GA Minor Scale: A-B-C-D-E-F-G-AB Minor Scale: B-C#-D-E-F#-G-A-BC# Minor Scale: C#-D#-E-F#-G#-A-B-C#Eb Minor Scale: Eb-F-Gb-Ab-Bb-Cb-Db-EbF# Minor Scale: F#-G#-A-B-C#-D-E-F#Ab Minor Scale: Ab-Bb-Cb-Db-Eb-Fb-Gb-AbBb Minor Scale: Bb-C-Db-Eb- F-Gb-Ab-Bb Next, simplify it! You can memorize this formula to form a major scale: whole step - whole step - half step - whole step - whole step - whole step - half step or w - w - h - w - w - w - h. You can memorize this formula to form a minor scale: whole step - half step - whole step - whole step - half step - whole step - whole step or w - h - w - w - h - w - w. Now, assign numbers to each note of a major or minor scale. Always assign number one to the tonic (first) note. For example, in the C major scale the numbers will be assigned as follows: C = 1 D = 2 E = 3 F = 4 G = 5 A = 6 B = 7 On an A minor scale the numbers will be assigned as follows: C = 1 D = 2 Eb = 3 F = 4 G = 5 Ab = 6 Bb = 7 Remember the pattern. Now, in order to form a tonic triad play the notes numbered 1 (tonic) + 3 + 5 of a major or minor scale. In our example above, a tonic triad in C Major is C + E + G, while a tonic triad in C minor is C + Eb + G.