So basically, I know how to identify triad if there is only one clef, but have troubling identifying the triad when there is a grand staff. Could someone tell me how to do this and possibly give me the answer to the first one?

chord identification exercise

  • It's just a matter of notation. How would you identify a triad in tenor clef? Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 12:39

4 Answers 4


I know how to identify triad if there is only one clef, but have troubling identifying the triad when there is a grand staff

I have a feeling you actually mean you know how to identify the chords in close position, but have trouble with open position chords.

Examples of close and open position chords

Close position puts all the notes "close together" which happens to fit easily on a single stave.

Open position spaces out the notes and requires greater space and fits more easily on a grand staff.

So in close position you might have a chord E G# B and that is easy to read. The starting E is the chord root.

E major in close, root position

In open position A F# D is a little more difficult. A is not the chord root. To identify the chord rearrange the letters so the tones are all stacked as ascending thirds. The first letter will then be the root.

Open position D major chord in second inversion

A F# D rearranged in thirds is D F# A. D is the root. D to F# is a major third and D to A is a perfect fifth. This is a major triad. It's a D major triad.

D major triad in close, root position


The spelling of the chords is the same. If you know how to read the notes in the bass clef you just find all the notes from both staffs and spell the chord. Doesn't really matter what order the notes are in or how far apart.

If you don't know how to read notes in the bass clef, the two dots surround the line that is an F, hence why it is called the F clef sometimes.

From bottom to top, spaces are A C E G, and lines are G B D F A.

So the lowest note in that fist example is an E. I'll let you work out the rest.


You have to notate the notes and find out the third position (that means you have to build a tower of thirds:


A f# d (the second chord)

a,b,c,d,e,f,g,a,b,c where can you find here these 3 notes above in 3rd formation?

D,F,A -> so the chord is d,f#,a

but the bass tone is the 5th

This means we have the 2nd inversion of the D major triad


Here's a tip that might make it easier to identify chords on the grand staff: the first ledger line below the treble staff is the same pitch as the first ledger line above the bass staff, and that's the middle C. If you place the staves close enough vertically, they form a unified linear pitch space.

middle C on bass and treble staves

Using such "joint" staves your first chord looks like this: example chord on staves joined together

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