Basic Chord Construction: Inversions

Here I will discuss the inversions of the chords that I showed you in the first chord lesson.

Ultimate Guitar
Note: Before you continue this lesson please be sure to check out the last lesson, in case you don't fully understand the basic chord construction. What are inversions? Inversions are chords, that instead of starting with the root note, start with the 3, 5, 7, etc. Since we are starting with triads, we need to know that there are only 2 different inversions. First inversion will start the chord with a 3, while the second inversion starts with the 5. Now that we know what inversions are, let's start. First inversion

Major: M3, 5, 1. Minor: m3, 5, 1. Diminished: m3, dim5, 1. Augmented: M3, aug5, 1. Second inversion

Major: 5, 1, M3. Minor: 5, 1, m3. Diminished: dim5, 1, m3. Augmented: aug5, 1, M3. For this chords we also have different names. Starting with the root note will be named root position, since it starts with the root note. First inversion will be called 6 (sixth) chord, since the separation between the lowest and the highest note is a 6. Second inversion will be called 6/4 chord, since the separation between lowest note to the highest one is a 6 and from the lowest to the next note is a 4. I hope this lesson was useful and that you fully understand triads now. For any question just send me a message.

12 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Isn't inverted triads usually just notated as (Chord name)/bass note? Ie E starting with the 3rd as E/G#? Also, why is a root+5th "dyad" (if that's even a term) called ie G5, however root+3rd is not called G3 but G(no 5)? Another one, you could voice 3,1,5 / 5,3,1 / 1,5,3 - probably not used as much on guitars as in keyboard instruments, but do these have a different name as well or the same as it's the same notes just different pitch? I'm no theorist but find this sort of thing interesting. Cheers
    Hey man. I see you got confused a little bit. But that's not a bad thing, it means that you are questioning the theory you are getting. This is very good for better understanding of music theory. You can actually use E/G# to tell the other people that it should start with G#, but in music theory you would use the terms I explained above. G5 would for example be a normal triad startin with the root note, in this case being G. It is called G5 because the interval from the 1 to the furthest away note is a 5. Now let's talk about the order of the other notes. Starting with the root note or any inversion, you could actually use whatever order you want. for example 1 5 3 or 3 1 5 and even 5 3 1. The important thing is that the notes in the triad are correct. But, if you write down G5 it has to be 1 3 5 and it can not be 1 5 3. This also counts for the other inversion names. If you just say first inversion than you can choose the order you want. But writing down G6 would be a complete other order. Hope this was understandable enough
    fanapathy - You're right that a notation of E/G# is just showing an inversion, but that same notation can be used for an alternate bass (that's not an inversion). For example, F/G (F-chord with G bass) is another way to specify a G11 chord. Regarding your question about why no G3 chord? The short answer is "this is music" where to me, the notation rules are often just entrenched practices that don't makes sense to a modern guitar player. The longer answer is that the 5th's are just not as important. In jazz chords the 5th is the first note to leave out. But it distorts very well, so it's a foundation of rock. If you had a chord like x-7-5-7-8-x (top to bottom) it's a popular voicing for an Em chord but doesn't have a 5th note (and doesn't have a fancier name)
    It seems like, some people get misled by this lesson. This is a lesson about music theory. All the lessons I do are about music theory. I don't show you chord charts because I want you to think about them and come up with them by your self. It will not help you if I write down all the chords. It will only make one lazy and not understand the most basic stuff. I hope people will get it Big thanks for all the supporters of music theory and this lesson.
    Well put! I found this lesson very helpful as I am currently studying theory and have just read up and practiced interval shapes and trying to make melodies both ascending and descending through them so its drummed into my thick skull. studying theory has been a rewarding challenge and although Im still tripping up on things I am thoroughly enjoying the journey great lesson cant wait to see your other work.
    Thanks buddy. Next lesson is about Intervals. Unfortunately it hasn't been uploaded yet. I guess it will take some some days to get it up. That lesson is going to be very complicated and also stressful. I'm already preparing my mind for a lot of dislikes on that one hahahaha. It's nice to read that you are also studying music theory and really glad you are enjoying it. If you need any help you can just send me a message and I will try to explain it the best way possible. Cheers
    Its missing examples, and how can be used in playing or in songs
    As the name of the lesson already states, this lesson is about understanding chords, specifically triads. It has nothing to do with song writing nor how to apply this chords in songs. I will upload a lesson about chord progressions in the future. But for now you will have to wait for it. Also, if you understand intervals you should already have understood this lesson. If you don't, than don't worry because my next lesson is about intervals. Hope you check it out when it comes out
    Best example i can think of right now to how inversions change the tone and context of the chord is in Metallica's One: the creepy chord right before the heavy breakdown (at 4:30) is actually an inversion of a cute little C chord
    works good in keyboard playing ex- c f g you use ceg-c cfa -f bdg-g
    Well the idea would be, that if you have C F G it is an augmented chord and instead of using f you should use E#, because else it would be an enharmonic equivalent. I will not talk too much about this, since the next lesson I upload is specifically about intervals and enharmonic equivalent. By the way. If you have C5 it would be C E G. C6 would be E G C, and C6/4 is G C E. This sounds really confusing but this is not the same as reading music. When Studying composition you actually use this terms a lot in certain classes. If you have a C6 chord on a music sheet it would be C E A. I hope this example was helpful enough. The best thing to do, always, is to get a book about general music theory. You have Intervals, Chords, Melody and harmony, etc. I really suggest you to get that book