The Purpose of Chord Inversions?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Matthew_84, Aug 19, 2018.


  1. I know that some composers/arrangers use chord inversions so that some of the jumps between the roots of chords in a progression aren’t as large.

    I also know that different inversions have a different feel, but I have a question about this point...

    The root position of a Major triad is comprised of the Root/Tonic, a Major 3rd, and a Perfect 5th.

    The first inversion of that Major triad is now built with the Major 3rd as the Root, and the original Root/Tonic is now on top of the chord. This first inversion is essentially now comprised of a minor 3rd and a minor 6th. The inverted chord has a familiar sound to the Root position chord (as it has the same notes), but the intervals now suggest a minor tonality, and indeed it does have a bit of a “minor” sound to it to me.

    Do some composers/arrangers use the first inversion of a Major triad to make a Major chord sound more like a minor chord?
     
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  2. I don’t hear inversions shift from major to minor. An inverted major chord, to me still sounds like a major chord, just rearranged a bit.
     
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  3. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    A chord inversion doesn't change the root, it's just not the lowest note anymore.
    You can look at it like a part of a complex chord but out of clever arrangement tricks I see no use for this.
     
  4. Nashrakh

    Nashrakh

    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    A first inversion major chord can also serve the function of a Neapolitan chord when modulating from one key to another. In a modulation like that, the inverted major chord will be re-interpreted as the minor subdominant chord of the target key.

    (Interestingly enough, a first inversion major triad always sounds like a Neapolitan to me...)

    Most often, first inversions will just be Used to smoothen out a bass movement. Bach liked to do that a lot.
     
  5. Funny, to me, 3/5/1 sounds way more 'major' with the root on top instead of 1/3/5.

    Theory is a great and useful thing. I think of it like physics, a way to mathematically describe the world happening around us. But as a favorite teacher once told me, 'don't let the theory get in the way of playing the music'.
     
  6. The purpose of inversions ---- IMO with piano or the keyboard inversions are used to move from one chord to the next with the least movement, i.e. play in place --- as you have already mentioned.

    With praise music I see a lot of slash chords used and just take for granted the songwriter wanted the slash note to be heard. Why? I leave to the songwriter and just do as he/she wants... I'm also sure the other guys will give better answers than this.

    Good luck.
     
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  7. Spidey2112

    Spidey2112

    Aug 3, 2016
    I read in the National Enquirer it cuts down on copyright infringement...
     
  8. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    "Here are my top 7 reasons why Inversions rock!"

    1. Improved Digestion...:roflmao::laugh:

    7 Reasons Why Inversions Rock
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
  9. BassChuck

    BassChuck Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Cincinnati
    It's only an inversion if you're thinking vertically. A series of lowest notes can (and should) be a a counter melody to the highest (or most prominent) sound.
     
  10. Thanks guys. I thought of this major/minor shift before I actually plugged it into my DAW software to hear it for myself. It’s possible I tricked my mind into hearing what I expected to hear. I’ll listen to it again later today. Thanks.
     
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  11. That’s interesting. Do you know of any songs/pieces where the first inversion major chord is used to modulate a key? I’d like to hear that in action, and analyze it a bit.
     
  12. LMAO. You got me. I saw you posted a link and got excited that it would be a really good resource, despite not understanding the digestion part of the joke.
     
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  13. Interesting. Thanks for sharing that. That helps.
     
  14. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    We need to separate chord inversions/voice leading in the right piano hand (from classical harmony) and the bass instrument playing 3rd or 5th while other harmony instruments are playing a chord.
    Ex.
    C/E.
    While the bass plays E, other harmony instruments are playing C major.
    Let’s say if that moment, the keyboard player decides to be “cool”, embellish that C major chord and play it as Emin7 as E - G - B - D (rootless C9), then it will sound minor; otherwise,
    1st inversion is weaker and 2nd is the weakest.
     
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  15. Awesome. Thanks!
     
  16. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    Laugh is a good medicine.
    Chord inversions come from Classical Harmony about voice leading “nuances” in soprano, tenor, alto, bass arrangements - how to “properly” join chords.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
  17. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Chord invesions generally signal a chord. The altered root is a passing note - like C/E to an F.
     
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  18. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    E as a passing note in C major (???)
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
  19. joebar

    joebar

    Jan 10, 2010
    Because the second inversion is the weakest, it can lend itself to some interesting applications.
    I use double stops a lot-
    Let’s look at g-c-e; many times, I will skip the c and use the other two notes-I can play them over a Cmaj,C7,A7.
     
  20. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    The E is the passing note to the F chord. Passing intervals often are half sets.
     
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    Primary TB Assistant

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