Omitting the third and the reasons behind doing it

“So I should omit the 3rd from my chords? Are you crazy?” you may ask. Well, I may seem to be crazy, but as we all know, that’s often not the way it turns out in the end. You can be a hard core theory head or completely incompetent when it comes to chords. It doesn’t matter. There will be occasions when you will be happy to eliminate that third. (Did I just hear you say “Let’s omit the turd”?) Let me list a couple of reasons, why.

Because it enables you to have a vague/ambiguous sound

the third and why you should omit it

Ok, so I’m pretty sure you have probably already did this. Why am I so sure? Because I bet you have banged out power chords on a guitar already. Or a fiddle. Or even a piano. And what are power chords? A root note and a (perfect) fifth. Nothing more. Even when you only play a power chord like that, it will imply a tonality, a certain sound. Yet you won’t be sure if it sounds like a minor, a major or a dominant chord. It’s suggested to leave the third scale degree out from eleventh chords by default as well. All in all, the keyword here is implication. When you don’t just spell everything out carefully, you allow the listener’s brain to create their very own perception of the music with more freedom. Their own signature mood, so to say.

Because it pisses of certain theory heads

They will teach you things like “do not drop the third out of the tonic triad as it leaves the quality of the triad questionable” or “do not omit the third of a chord; it is essential in determining the chord quality”. Well, bingo! Just what we wanted, right? Now what’s better than to go out and pwn those theoretical n00bs full of themselves? Yup. Nuff said.

Because it has a haunting sound to it

Okay, so it might not be so obvious when some kid strumming out those overly distorted power chords on a whacked out metal tune. But listen to some old time or bluegrass music with some dobro or fiddle on it, and you’ll immediately hear what I’m saying. Most of the traditionally used slide guitar tunings don’t enable easy access to minor chords. Yet the above mentioned root and fifth thing works perfectly in such context (as well). Dare to deliberately forget about the 3rd of a chord. It’s nothing but the usual “less is more”, my friend. Enjoy it.

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