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Inverted chords - in a band setting

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Matthew_84, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    I haven't played much in a band setting, which I'm working on resolving. The last time I did, it was a jam session with musicians I had never played with before where we played mostly classic rock songs over chord/lyric sheets.

    An inverted chord came up, and one of the newer guitarists did not know what it was. The more advanced guitarist told him that its merely the same chord, but the note shown as the inversion is the bass note. He then said not to worry about it and looked at me and told me when we get there to play the inversion instead of the root.

    I already knew this, but I questioned if the guitarist should just be playing the same chord and same fingerings. I always thought that the whole chord gets turned around (i.e. a C major goes from CEG to EGC or GCE - depending on the inversion), and thus the guitar chord fingering would be different. He disagreed with me, and re-affirmed to the newer guitarist to just play the chord as he knew it.

    At the time, I certainly felt like the advanced guitarist truly believed I was wrong by his reply, but later on I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought that he may have just done that to keep things going and not give the newer guitarist more than he could handle at the moment.

    I never played with those specific musicians again, but the other day I recalled it, and just wanted to know if my knowledge was right, or if I am misunderstood.

  2. Mitchinboxer


    Jan 25, 2012
    He was actually correct. In an inverted chord the bass note has to be on the bottom of course. Other than that, the rest of the notes can be arranged in any order you want, doubled as much as you want, whatever, as long as that bass note is there it will sound right.

    In your example you were playing the E of the C chord. As long as that E is there on the bottom, the guitar player can play his C major shape and your note will still be the bass note, even if the lowest note he is playing is a C, because your bass is sounding an octave lower than his guitar.

    Does that make sense? I hope I explained that ok. Instead of two different parts, think of your notes ascending vertically on a grand staff, that might help.
  3. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    Thank you for clearing that up for me. It does make sense and it sounded fine when we got to the inverted chord. I just wasn't sure what the proper approach was and I was curious for the next time I encounter it.

  4. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    I want to add "an inversion" is non-specific. If the written music(or the intent of the players) is not specific, then yeah, it doesn't matter. However, sometimes a specific inversion can be called out, and then they might have to play with a different order of notes.
    This probably makes more sense on a piano than a guitar. Some chord shapes are just really difficult on a guitar and there's a good chance listeners would not notice one sub for another.
  5. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    Just for my own education, how was the inverted chord notated? Was it in a staff or was it a slash chord, or ?
    Because I'm thinking this is pretty much the problem a slash chord solves without a lot of ambiguity.
  6. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Yes, in popular music a slash chord is a chord whose bass note or inversion is indicated by the addition of a slash and the letter of the bass after the root note letter.
    Cmaj7 chord: (Classical music - 7-5-3, as 7)
    Cmaj7/E - in first inversion (Classical music - 6-5-3, abbreviated 6-5)
    Cmaj7/G - in second inversion (Classical music - 6-4-3, or 4-3)
    Cmaj7/B - in third inversion (Classical music - 6-4-2, as 4-2)
  7. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Sometimes the slash chord is important to the guitar part. 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is Am to Am/G to Am/F# to Fmin7b5 (or an Am/F). That's important to the song's structure. Other times the slash chord should be handled as discussed lots of Motown has the bass playing notes other than the root.
    "Inversion" by definition refers only to what note is on the bottom of the chord, and the chord is the total of ALL the pitches played by all instruments. If I play an A and a guitar plays FCFACF, it's first inversion, same as if the guitar plays CFCFA and the singer sings F and the sax plays C.

    Context is the key to determining how the guitarist should voice chords.

  8. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Regardless of what the guitars play, you're always lower and therefore define what the "bass" of the combined notes is.
  9. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    In popular music, your example would be marked as F/A.
    No confusion.
  10. BawanaRik


    Mar 6, 2012
    New Jersey
    He was wrong. He shouldn't have been a gui**** and then tried playing the look at the bassist routine.

    He should be playing the right chord. Have him play While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Without the correct chord.

    Many of these voicings are a part of the song.

    It's my opinion your second take on the matter is correct.

    Try to play with people who are better than you. This gives you a chance to learn.

    Of course you'll learn from those worse than you. But it's a much more painful experience.
  11. wmheilma


    Jan 5, 2010
    Isn't it great to be down low? That wise guy thought he was playing Em7b5, but I showed him. I played a nice loud C note way down low. Voila! C9 for everybody and just cause of me. :)

    I am going to drive everyone nuts tonight. I can see it coming!

    They play a C chord, and I'll play an A then it's Am7. They play Dm, and I'll play Bb to make a Bbmaj7.
  12. Lobomov


    Aug 2, 2013
    Guitar players (at least me when on guitar) do lots chords that aren't what is on paper, like a either a Am7 or an Em instead of a C major chord .. and that is the clean diatonic stuff.

    Especially in a 3-piece setting it is fun to experiment with all sorts of stuff.

    Basically as long as your ear isn't annoyed, don't sweat it.

    Edit: Just saw that WMheilma basically wrote the reverse of this post above while I was typing. WMheilma trows a A at my C-chords, but I'm already playing F#9 leading to the F of the next measure, so Am7 has turned into F#9/A - and what is that? Amaj7(b9)? - But if it sounds cool, who cares? :)
  13. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Let's just restrict, for now, the term "Chord Inversion" to the chord notes.
    A chord's inversion describes the relationship of its bass to the other tones in the chord.

    In your example, A is not a C (major or minor) chord note,
    Bb is not a Dm chord note.
    Of course, you can go back and say, "I meant C6".
  14. wmheilma


    Jan 5, 2010
    Yes. I am adding notes to make new chords in my example just for fun. Otherwise it is just CEG, EGC, GCE. I am pretty sure that won't be quite enough to annoy my band tonight :)
  15. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    As I said many times before, one of my biggest pet peeves is when a musician (usually the beginner) suddenly discovers a book/tutorial about "Chord Substitutes for Jazz players" and immediately starts making those "newly discovered" substitutions indiscriminately - just because.

    Sometimes I wonder if a musician understands that a composer spends numerous hours working on those chord changes, and usually, the composer is smart enough to know about those possible substitutions.
  16. wmheilma


    Jan 5, 2010
    Besides, if they are playing CEG, and I play an A down low. It is not a C6 to the audience. If I played the A up high then that is the sound they would hear. I would be changing the chord altogether.
  17. wmheilma


    Jan 5, 2010
    I am not new to theory, just trying to have fun. I studied classical at Oberlin College in the 80's, and learned a lot from a guy who is a Berkeley grad and took me under his wing. I am busting on my band mates for tonight since they have canceled practice for two months running which is not cool.
  18. Mitchinboxer


    Jan 25, 2012
    You guys are all right, I was originally approaching it from a purely theoretical perspective.

    Of course the voicings of the guitar matters, especially when it's a distinctive part of the context of a song.

    However, as a bass player, the way I think about inversions most is that I am the bass note and that I basically determine the inversion or altered bass of any chord, just by virtue of the octave I play in.

    Which is a really liberating feeling. There's nothing better than confidently landing on the 2nd or 4th just at the right time :bassist:
  19. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Some info about Sixth chord.
    The term "sixth chord" refers to two different kinds of chord,
    (1) in classical music and
    (2) in modern popular music.

    (1) "The original meaning (in classical music)- is a chord in first inversion - with its third in the bass and its root a sixth above it. This is how the term is still used today, and in this sense it is also called a chord of the sixth.

    (2) In popular music, it's any triad with an added sixth above the root - a triad with an added sixth interval; therefore,
    a major sixth chord built on C (C6, or CM6) consists of the notes C, E, G, and the added major sixth A.
    These are the same notes as those of an A minor seventh chord - whether such a chord should be regarded as an added sixth chord or a seventh depends on its context and harmonic function."
  20. wmheilma


    Jan 5, 2010
    Think about what the listener hears with notes ACEG vs. CEGA. I would write a chord symbol Am7 for the first one and C6 for the second one. On bass I would play a line that emphasizes A for the first and C on the second one. The same notes do sound different when you change the bottom note, but you might also pick a voicing that compliments the melody from the top down.