When it comes to creating more diverse sounds on the guitar, using 3 chord inversions are one of the best techniques to use. By changing the order of the notes in a chord, you can create new shapes that add intrigue and interest to your playing.
What is a Chord Inversion
A chord inversion is simply a chord where the order of the notes has been changed. This effectively changes the voicing of the chord, and can create whole new sounds.
The first inversion of a chord made up of the notes 1-3-5 would be 3-5-1, and the second inversion would be 5-1-3. The starting note changes, which means the lowest note is no longer the root note. The other notes can now act as the bass notes.
Why Change the Order of the Notes?
The reason why you would want to change the order of the notes is because it can create new and interesting sounds. When a chord is played in root position, all of the notes sound good together.
However, when you invert a chord, certain notes will stand out more than others. This can be used to create unique sounding progressions and melodies.
Interval, Chord, Chord Progressions
When it comes to chord inversions, it’s important to learn some basics of music theory to better understand the concept. Having knowledge of what you’re doing always makes everything simpler.
What is an interval?
An interval is the distance between two notes, and it can be either melodic or harmonic. A melodic interval is when two notes are played one after the other, while a harmonic interval is when two notes are played at the same time.
What is a chord?
A chord is simply 3 or more notes played together. A chord consists of three notes: the root, the third, and the fifth.
The root is the note that the chord is named after, the third is the note that is 4 semitones above the root, and the fifth is the note that is 7 semitones above the root.
- Major Scale: C D E F G A B (C)
- Chromatic Scale: C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B (C)
- Chord (triad): C-E-G
What is a chord progression?
A chord progression is simply a series of chords played in succession. Chord progressions are what give a piece of music its overall structure. Chord progressions are used in almost all forms of music, and they can be either simple or complex.
The root position of a chord is the basic form that we learn as beginners, and it is typically shown in chord charts. When it comes to chord positions (including chord inversions), the root position is when a chord is played in its simplest form.
Root position chords are simply chords where the root note is the lowest note. The root position is the most stable-sounding of all chord positions, which might be why it’s typically the first to learn in chord formation.
3 Chord Inversions
The term “inversion” typically refers to different melodic possibilities where the lowest note is not the root note. An inversion is a change to the way intervals, chords, voices, and melodies are arranged.
From the root position, there are three basic chord inversions: each one has a different sound that can be used to create unique progressions.
Let’s look at how a chord sounds different when inverted from its root position.
- Cmajor chord in root position would be C-E-G.
1st Inversion, 3rd note
The first inversion is when the third note of the chord is played as the lowest note. For example, in a C major chord, the notes would be arranged as E-G-C. First inversions are a great way of building emotion and seamlessly transitioning from one chord to the next.
- Inversion: E-G-C
- Bass Note: E
- Chord Name: C/E
2nd Inversion, 5th note
The second inversion is when the fifth note of the chord is played as the lowest note. For example, in a C major chord, the notes would be arranged as G-C-E. If you’re looking to end a section of your music on a strong note, consider using a second inversion.
- Inversion: G-C-E
- Bass Note: G
- Chord Name: C/G
3rd Inversion, 7th note
The third inversion is when the seventh note of the chord is played as the lowest note. Third inversions are less common than the first and second inversions, but they can create some really interesting sounding progressions. This particular chord is slightly dissonant and has four notes. For example, in a C major chord, the notes would be arranged as B-C-E-G.
- Inversion: B-C-E-G
- Bass Note: B
- Chord Name: C/B
Chord Inversions Chart
Use this chord inversions chart to help you easily remember the 3 different types of inversions. Be sure that you can play and explore them all on your instrument!
|CHORD (Major)||Root Position|
Practical Uses for Chord Inversions
There are 5 practical reasons why you might want to use chord inversions in your music.
The first reason is that it can create a more interesting sound. If you’re using the same old chord position all the time, they can start to sound a bit boring. By adding in some chord inversions, you can give them a fresh sound and add some spice and interest to your progression.
The second reason is that it can make chords easier to play. When you invert a chord, it often moves some of the notes closer together which makes them easier to play. This can be really helpful if you’re a beginner guitar player or if you have small hands.
The third reason is that it can animate or add interest to a static bass line. When you invert a chord, the lowest note changes and this can have a big impact on the overall sound of your progression. If you’re playing a progression in which the bass notes don’t change, you can use chord inversions to create movement and make it sound much more interesting than just playing the root notes.
The fourth reason is to use inversions to highlight specific notes. This technique is used to make specific notes stand out. If you want to make a melody more distinctive, try using an inversion by making the melodic note as the highest note on your chord.
The highest note of any given chord will always be most clear, if you balance out volume equally between other notes.
Finally, it can create a smoother, more flowing sound in your progressions. By using chord inversions, you can often move more smoothly from one chord to the next which can make your progressions sound more natural and effortless.
A Few Considerations for Inverting Chords
There are many reasons why musicians might choose to invert chords; sometimes it sounds better, sometimes it’s easier to play, and other times it’s for a specific effect. It’s important to be aware of a few things before inverting chords, however.
Think before you leap!
- Invert only when it’s really necessary! While inversions are a great way to stretch and loosen up your ear, it’s important not to make the mistake of doing too many without good reason.
Make sure all chords sound well together!
- When in doubt, don’t invert! This is especially true when the bass note following your inversion has an augmented 4th or diminished 5th away from it. This will sound jarring and unpleasant to the ear.
- Avoid parallel octaves. This happens when two notes in the chord are an octave apart from each other. If the melody and bassline happen to be on one note, don’t invert that next chord. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can start to sound a bit muddy if you’re not careful. Sometimes it is best to keep your bass and melody on different notes.
If you’re just starting out with inversions, it’s best to stick to simple chords like triads (three note chords) before moving on to more complex chords.
New Sound, More Possibilities!
Overall, learning chord inversions can be a really helpful tool for both beginner and experienced musicians alike. While chord inversions might sound complex, they’re actually quite simple once you get the hang of them. And once you start using them in your progressions, you’ll be able to create much more interesting sounding music. You can add tension and resolve it in interesting ways.
As you can see, there are many different possibilities when it comes to chord inversions. By learning how to use them, you can create new sounds and textures that can really enhance your music.