Chord Inversions

Run time: 4m 25s  |  Release Date: June 8th, 2020

Section 1 - "Introduction"

In this video we are going to discuss the different ways in which the notes of a chord can be rearranged. However before we get started it is important to mention that some people often confuse the identity of a chord with the shape that it takes on their instrument. Rather, a chord is more accurately identified by the notes which are being played.

For example, the notes of a triad are derived from the first, third, and fifth scale degrees of a corresponding Major or minor scale. Looking at the notes of a C Major scale we can see that the letter names which compose a C Major triad are C, E, and G. However even if these letter names were to be rearranged, so long as the notes C, E, and G are still being played it is still considered to be a C Major triad.

To summarize, a group of notes do not have to take a particular shape in order to be classified as a chord so long as the correct letter names are being played.

Section 2 - "Root Position"

When the root note of a chord is in the bass, meaning when the note with the same letter name of the chord is being played in the lowest vibrational frequency relative to the other notes, the chord is considered to be in root position. Now, as we just learned, it does not matter what order the remaining notes of the chord are in. As long as the root note is in the bass the chord is still considered to be in root position.

Section 3 - "First Inversion"

An inversion in music occurs when the notes of a chord are rearranged so that the root note is no longer in the bass. A chord is considered to be in first inversion when the third of the chord is in the bass. Looking at the notes of a C Major scale we can see that the third scale degree is the note E. Therefore, if the note E is in the bass when playing a C Major triad, then the chord is considered to be in first inversion. Again, it does not matter what order the remaining notes are in. If the third of the chord is in the bass it is still in first inversion.

Section 4 - "Second Inversion"

Second inversion occurs when the fifth of the chord is in the bass. The fifth scale degree of a C Major scale is the note G. Therefore, a C Major triad in second inversion occurs when the note G is in the bass.

Section 5 - "Third Inversion"

In certain situations the seventh scale degree may be added to the notes of a triad. For example, the seventh scale degree of a C Major scale is the note B. Therefore, when the note B is added to the notes of a C Major triad the combination of notes is called a C Major seventh. When the notes of a C Major seventh are rearranged so that the note B is in the bass that chord is considered to be in third inversion. Now again, just like all of the other inversions discussed in this video, it does not matter what order the remaining notes are in. As long as the seventh scale degree is in the bass the chord is in third inversion.

Section 6 - "Wrap Up"

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Watch Next:

16a - Seventh Chords (Major 7).png

In this video series we are going to discuss the five most commonly used types of seventh chords. We will learn about each of their unique tone qualities and characteristics, as well as come to understand how seventh chords can be constructed either through the scale, or by intervals above a given note.

But before we get started, if you are unfamiliar with either basic triads or intervals please take the time to review these subjects by clicking on the links provided in the description below.
The notes of a Major seventh chord consist of the notes of a Major triad with the addition of an interval of a Major seventh above the root note.

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