The C sharp Major triad is one of the most popular chords in Western music. In this article you’ll learn how to contract the C sharp major triad as well as how to play it on piano and guitar. We’ve also included sections on inversions and figured bass for those that want a deeper understanding. Lastly, listen to some examples of popular songs that featured this triad.
C sharp Major Triad – Root , 3rd and 5th
The C sharp Major triad is formed of the 1st, 3rd and 5th of the C sharp major scale. Another way of putting this is that we have the root note (C#), a major 3rd above this (E#), and a perfect 5th above the root (G#). By playing these notes we form the C sharp major triad, or the C sharp major chord.
Below is the C sharp major triad shown in the treble and bass clef.
Before you read on make sure that you have a basic understanding of intervals. Intervals are vital for understanding how triads are built. Check out our guide to major, minor and perfect intervals for more on this.
C sharp Major Triad on Piano
Below you can see how to play a C sharp sharp major triad on the keyboard or piano. This pattern of notes could also be played starting on any C sharp note. However, the order of the notes must be the same, with C sharp being the lowest note, followed by E sharp and the highest note being G sharp. This is called ‘root position’.
How to play the C sharp Major Triad on Guitar
There are two simple positions that you can use to play a C sharp major triad on guitar. Both positions can also be slide up or down the neck to play different major triads.
C sharp Major Triad 1st Inversion
A 1st inversion is where we take a triad but we start on the second note, which in this case is E sharp. We still keep the G sharp above, but then the C sharp (or root) become the highest note. This way of rearranging a triad gives us a different sound as the relative pitches of the three notes has changed.
We could construct a 1st inversion starting on any E sharp note in any octave. The only thing that must stay the same is that the we use the G sharp above and the C sharp above that. Below you can see this triad on the staff.
How to play C sharp major 1st inversion on Piano
On the piano we can play the 1st inversion of a C sharp Major triad by starting on an E sharp. They play the G sharp above and the C sharp above this.
How to Play C sharp Major 1st Inversion of Guitar
Below are the most common shapes for playing a C sharp major triad in the 1st inversion. Remember that we can only use certain shapes are the pitches of the three notes are important.
C sharp Major Triad 2nd Inversion
A 2nd inversion is where we take a triad but we start on the third note, which in this case is G sharp. We still keep the C sharp above this as we did from the 1st inversion. Then the E sharp becomes the highest note in the chord. Agian this will give us a different sound as the relative pitches of the three notes has changed.
We could construct a 2nd inversion starting on any G sharp note in any octave. The only thing that must stay the same is that the we use the C sharp above and the E sharp above that. Below you can see this triad on the staff.
How to play C sharp major 2nd inversion on Piano
On the piano we can play the 2nd inversion of a C sharp Major triad by starting on a G sharp. They play the C sharp above and the E sharp above this.
How to Play C sharp Major 2nd Inversion of Guitar
Below are the most common shapes for playing a C sharp major triad in the 2nd inversion. Remember that we can only use certain shapes are the pitches of the three notes are important.
What different types of triad are there?
There are several different types of triads that we can create for the major scale:
- Major Triad– This is formed with the 1st, 3rd (major 3rd) and 5th (perfect fifth) of the major scale. The C Major triad is C#, E# and G#.
- Minor Triad– This is the same as the major triad, except instead of a major 3rd we have a minor 3rd. The C sharp Minor triad is therefore C#, E, G#.
- Diminished Triad – To create the diminished triad start with the 1st (C#), then minor 3rd (E) then a diminished 5th (G). A Diminished 5th interval is a half-step (semitone) smaller than a perfect 5th.
- Augmented Triads– This triad starts with the 1st degree of the scale (C#), followed by major 3rd (E#) and augmented 5th (Gx). An augmented 5th interval is a half-step (semitone) larger than a perfect 5th.
Triads from the C sharp Major Scale
By looking at the C sharp Major scale we can actually make triads built on each note and only using notes from C sharp major. Below you can see a list of each triad we will create be starting on different notes of the scale.
- C sharp Major
- D sharp Minor
- E sharp Minor
- F sharp Minor
- G sharp Major
- A sharp Minor
- B flat Diminished
Pieces in C sharp Major
Due to its very awkward key signature (7 sharps), pieces are rarely written in the key of C sharp Major. Composers often use D flat major, which is enharmonically equivalent to C# Major.
This being said, C# Major has been used on rare occasions. The below extract from Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, Prelude and Fugue III was originally written in C# Major.
Figured Bass Notation for C sharp Major Triads
Figured bass is an alternative way of labelling chords. It uses vertical numbers to denote chords and it can be used to label any type of triad. Below are the figured bass symbols for the C sharp Major chord in all three inversions.
- Root Position – 3/5 indicates that a 3rd above the root and a 5th above the root are to be played.
- 1st Inversion – 3/6 indicates that a 3rd and 6th should be played above the root note
- 2nd inversion – 4/6 indicates that a 4th and 6th above the root note should be played.
There are also figured bass symbols for minor, diminished and augmented triads. A summary is below, but if you want a deepen explanation of how to use this notation, check out our complete guide to figured bass.
- Learn how to construct the C sharp Minor triad
- Swat up on your chord knowledge with our complete guide to chords.