Diatonic Triads

Diatonic Triads - chord symbol and
roman numeral analysis

Starting with a C major scale:

C scale

we are going to build a triad on each note of the scale:

diatonic triads

These are the diatonic triads in the key of C major. They only use notes in the key signature with no added sharps or flats.

Here are the same diatonic triads in the key of C major in the 1st inversion:

diatonic triads 1st inversion

Here are the same diatonic triads in the key of C major in the 2nd inversion:

diatonic triads 2nd inversion

The chord symbols above the staff describe each chord... i.e.

  • the C, F and G chords are major
  • the D, E and A chords are minor and
  • the B chord is diminished

Below the staff there is a series of Roman Numerals. It traditional music theory, diatonic chords and chord progressions are analyzed with Roman Numerals.

  • the upper case,(I-IV-V) are major chords
  • the lower case (ii-iii-vi) are minor
  • the lower case with the little circle (vii°) is diminished.

CHORD SYMBOLS are widely used in popular and jazz sheet music. Understanding them is a must for any chord player.

Although the ROMAN NUMERALS are not used today in most sheet music, they are EXTREMELY IMPORTANT in understanding and using SUBSTITUTE CHORDS and CHORD PROGRESSIONS.

Below are listed the DIATONIC TRIADS in all of the major keys.

more diatonic triads


7th chords - chord inversions - sus chords

extended chords - diatonic triads - diatonic 7th chords

primary chords - secondary chords - secondary dominants


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Harmony and Theory: 

by Carl Schroeder and Keith Wyatt 

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