Chord Inversions basics

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What are Chord inversions?

Chord inversions is yet another vital aspect of music and you will see some importance of chord inversions and how to create yours.

 

Assume you have a number “100” think of the possible ways you could rearrange it.

 

100 (original)

010 (first possible rearrangement)

001 (last possible rearrangement)

 

This is what chord inversions is all about, you basically think of the possible ways to rearrange notes in a chord (triads in this case but not limited to it).

 

However in the case of Inversion there is just a difference from above number example; ALWAYS TRY TO ARRANGE IN A WAY THAT KEEPS INDIVIDUAL NOTES CLOSE TO EACH OTHER. In other words rearrange the notes so that you could still play that same chord easily with a hand without stretching too much.

 

If you are confused on how to do chord inversions without stretching, just follow my principle below

 

“The first shall become the last” principle

 

Using this principle you make the first note the last note in the next arrangement without moving other notes.

 

Let’s use this principle to invert a basic C major chord

 

CEG (original chord commonly called the root chord of C major)

 

What’s the first note there? It’s the root note “C” note right? Now take that note and make it the last note to create a new inversion.

 

EGC  This is the first inversion of the C major chord

 

We don’t want to stop here hence we pick the new first note “E” and make it the last note to create a new inversion.

 

GCE  This is the second inversion of the C major chord

 

I know you are amazed already because you didn’t see this coming. lol

 

Let’s see if we can get another inversion by taking the first note”G” to the last position.

 

CEG

 

Is this a new inversion? What do you observe?

 

It is not a new arrangement because it took us back to the C MAJOR ROOT CHORD POSITION which will always begin with the C note (check the first chord above to verify that it’s the same).

 

So we can deduce from this that we only have two possible chord inversion (first and second inversions respectively) for all triads be it a major,minor or a diminished triad.

 

A little exercise for you

 

  1. Try get the second inversion of these chords

 

E minor chord

F major chord

A minor chord

 

  1. Derive the first inversion of these chords

 

Ab major chord

Bb minor chord

D major chord

 

 

Importance of Chord Inversions

It’s not right if I leave you without telling you the importance of chord inversions.

 

Below are the two major importance you should know today:

  1. Avoid flying hands
  2. Helps smooth transitions between chords

 

 

Avoid flying hands

With chord inversions you can easily switch between chords without flying up and down the keyboard with your hands. In this case just less movement is required (see below chord progressions).

 

CEG(Cmajor) – FAC(Fmajor) -GBD(Gmajor) – CEG(Cmajor)

 

CEG(root C major) -CFA(2nd inv Fmajor) -BDG( 1st inv Gmajor) -CEG(root Cmajor)

 

If you noticed while you played that the first progression had a lot of flying/movement while the second had less movement of hands, most times it’s just fingers that moved.

 

 

Smooth transition between chords

Smooth transition/flow between chords in any song or chord progression is one of the objectives of a good pianist. It is easy to achieve this with chord inversions.

 

You could play this song in two ways but it’s very obvious that the second is more appealing to the ears.

 

Halleluya – Worship song (All root chords! No inversions!!)

Halle-lu-ya

C major

 

Halle-lu-ya

F major

 

Halle-lu-ya

G major

 

Halle-lu-ya

C major

 

Halleluya – Worship song (Inversions added!)

Halle-lu-ya

CEG (Root C major)

 

Halle-lu-ya

CFA (2nd inv F major)

 

Halle-lu-ya

DGB (2nd inv G major)

 

Halle-lu-ya

EGC (1st inv C major)

 

 

 

Inversion does magic for real hence I suggest you use it whenever you need a change in sound even though you are virtually playing same chords.

 

Goodluck!

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