Chords Invertions: How to Play Them in Different Ways

Let's look into the world of chords and explore some great ways to play them. Whether you're a piano pro or just getting started, understanding chord positions is a key ingredient in creating some amazing music.


A chord can either be in its root position or in one of its inversions, depending on 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.


However, 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 in its "root position" is like the home base. The lowest note is the tonic, which gives the chord its name. If you're playing a C major chord, the notes from lowest to highest are C - E - G.


First Inversion

In the "first inversion," we move the tonic up an octave, making the third the lowest note. So, for a C major chord in the first inversion, you'd play E - G - C, giving a different sound to the chord. It would now be: third - fifth - tonic.


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: Bb - 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.

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


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