How to invert chords?

Chord Inversions

A chord can either be in its root position or in one of more inversions. This is all determined by which note of the chord is the lowest, and which is the highest. This is particularly important on the piano, where it is easy to invert chords so that they are not all in the root position - This isn't always what sounds right.

It should be noted that playing a chord inversion is not necessarily determined by which note is the lowest. On piano, for example, you can play a chord in the first inversion with your right hand and still play the tonic note as the bass with your left hand.

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Chord Positions

Root Position

A chord played in its root position has the tonic as the lowest note. The order of the notes, when read from deepest to highest, would be: tonic - third - fifth.
For example, the root position of the C major chord would be: C - E - G

First Inversion

A chord in its first inversion does not have the tonic of the scale as the lowest note, but rather the third. The tonic is raised by an octave, so that it is now the highest note. The order of the notes, when read from deepest to highest, would now be: third - fifth - tonic.
The first inversion of C major would therefore be: E - G - C

Second Inversion

A chord in its second inversion has the fifth of the scale as its deepest note. Both the tonic and the third are raised by an octave. The order of the notes, when read from deepest to highest, would now be: fifth - tonic - thurd.
The second inversion of C major would therefore be: G - C - E

More Inversions

If the chord you want to invert has more than three notes, then a third inversion would be placing the fourth note as the deepest notes, while raising the other three notes by an octave each.
For example, the third inversion of the C7 chord would be: B - C - E - G

Similarly, a five-note chord has a fourth inversion, and so forth.

Here is what these chords would like like on the piano. From left to right, the chords are C in root position, C in first inversion, C in second inversion and C7 in third inversion.

chord inversions, music theory, learn music
chord inversions, music theory, music lesson free
chord inversions, music theory, free music lesson
chord inversion, music theory, free music lesson

If you want to learn more about music theory, read this article.

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