How to Invert Triads

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Chord inversions are used by composers and musicians for modulation, to create a melodic bass line and generally to make music more interesting. A chord inversion simply means rearranging the notes in a given chord. Inversions can also be applied to intervals and melodies, for this lesson however, we will focus on inverting triads.

Chord Inversion Tutorial

Learn the root position of triads in both major and minor keys. When we say root position it refers to the normal position of chords in which the root note is at the bottom; root + third + fifth (1+3+5). For example, a C major triad is C+E+G, with C as the root note.

For the first inversion of a triad simply move the root note at the top an octave higher. So if the root position of a C major chord is C+E+G, moving the root note (C) at the top makes the first inversion as E+G+C (3+5+1).

For the second inversion of a triad move the lowest note and place it on top of the root note. Let's take the C major chord as an example again, the first inversion of this chord is E+G+C with E being the lowest note. Move E above the root note which is C to make the second inversion of G+C+E (5+1+3).

Usually, triads are referred to as having only two inversions. This is because when you invert a triad a third time you return to the root position only an octave higher.