Audio: chord inversion (0:08)
chord inversion plays chord inversions in the key of C on an electric piano. The chord inversion figure shows the score. The first chord in root position and the rest in first or second inversion. The chords are notated in slash chord notation above the score and Roman numeral notation below. The chord progression is exactly the same as that in triad.
Chord inversion determines which is the lowest pitched note in a chord.
The lowest pitched note, the bass note, can be any of the notes in a chord:
An inverted chord is notated in Roman numeral notation by adding a lower case letter after the number:
There are other ways to notate an inverted chord:
The order of the notes above the bass note is immaterial. In a C major chord, for example, CEG and CGE are both root position chords; EGC and ECG are first inversion chords; and GCE and GEC are second inversion chords.
Any note in a chord can be doubled. The sound of the chord changes but the quality of the chord remains unchanged. For example, the F major chord in bar 2 of chord inversion contains the four notes, CFAC. The chord is an F major triad, FAC, with a doubled C note. Since the bass note is note C, which is a fifth above the root F, the chord is in second inversion and notated F/C or IVc.
Chord inversion applies only to a triad. Strictly speaking, this chapter should be titled triad inversion, although chord inversion is a more commonly used term. There is one exception, a seventh chord, which is a four note tertian chord constructed from thirds, and can be in root position, first inversion, second inversion and, also, third inversion.
Chord inversion does not change the nature of a triad but it has a marked effect on the sound.