Welcome!
Just a few a ground rules first...

Promotion, advertising and link building is not permitted.

If you are keen to learn, get to grips with something with the willing help of one of the net's original musician forums
or possess a genuine willingness to contribute knowledge - you've come to the right place!

Register >

- Close -
Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Inversions

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    946

    Inversions

    What's their purpose?

    Are they used to add variety to the harmony?

  2. #2
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    1,417
    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    What's their purpose?

    Are they used to add variety to the harmony?
    There are multiple ways to think about and see inversions. One way is that inversions are subtle variations relative to how to present the chord. To hear this get the sound of the chord in your ears and play through the inversions. Each inversion offers a slightly different focus to the chord while the chord itself (quality and function) rings through.

    Another way to think of inversions is that they are the natural consequence of voice-leading. If you think of the melodic lines as weaving their way through and around the harmony - then it's only a matter of time before you start to see and hear the inversions as expressions of a particular melodic lines harmonized as per the chords that are in play.

    For the most part, I hear inversions as the second description above. Everything is about the melody, even comp'ing is just finding alternate melodies (harmonized) over the same progression.

    cheers

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    946
    One thing I've learned before is that it can be used, for example, to use in the bass a different note from the root, adding variety and/or ease of playing due to the elimination of notes from the chords / arps.

    From my interpretation this can be seen as a form of the second description you've said.

  4. #4
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Twickenham, UK
    Posts
    4,959
    The most common use of inversions is to create melodic bass lines; IOW, to create bass lines that move differently from the nornmal root movement, typically scale-wise moves.
    Inversions are not as resolved or consonant as root position chords - they always contain an element of expectation; something has to follow, the bass normally points the way.

    In fact, I can't think of any other purpose for inversions, other than in creating a satisfyingly melodic bass line. AFAIK, inversions are not held or repeated for a length of time that way root positions chords can be; they are always transitional, relatively brief. They draw the ear to the bass, to the way the bass is moving.

  5. #5
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Deep East Texas Piney Woods
    Posts
    3,145
    Inversions on the keyboard allow you to grab a I IV V with out moving very far. IMHO inversions have more use with keyboard, we really have to work to find a reason for them on string instruments. Of course that is IMHO.

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Liverpool England
    Posts
    72
    Try an EMAJ7 shape with the 3rd in the bass ie swap the 3rd from the bottom E string G# to the top 6th string G#) And play diatonically up the neck back to E. I use this with fingers plucking strings and thumb on the bass, gives a jazzy feel/sound. I try and play as if i were playing chords on a piano in a sort of way not really letting the strings ring out. Its kind of a combination i get from Steve Khans chord concepts and Ted Greens chord progressions.
    I am now in the habit of playing chords and minimalising them without bothering to try and name them. Not sure if this is a bad habit developing though? so any opinions on this are much appreciated Cheers.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Dallas Texas
    Posts
    63
    Another use for inversions is to change the "finality" of cadences, especially in classical music. A V-I6 is much less "final" sounding than V-I.

  8. #8
    Registered User xyzzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    78
    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    In fact, I can't think of any other purpose for inversions, other than in creating a satisfyingly melodic bass line. AFAIK, inversions are not held or repeated for a length of time that way root positions chords can be; they are always transitional, relatively brief. They draw the ear to the bass, to the way the bass is moving.
    I feel like I'm hearing the highest note of a given chord "in the lead" as I try to work out chord melodies, so to my ears I feel like I'm often (currently) using inversions to get a desired melody note on top.

    I guess this qualifies as "transitional, relatively brief" as you say above.

  9. #9
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    1,417
    Quote Originally Posted by xyzzy View Post
    I feel like I'm hearing the highest note of a given chord "in the lead" as I try to work out chord melodies, so to my ears I feel like I'm often (currently) using inversions to get a desired melody note on top.
    This is a very common way to use inversions. When this is done using some note in the lead that is not the melody - it's called comp'ing. Awareness of the specific note used in the lead and being able to choose a note for a specific effect is an advanced and very powerful skill.

    cheers,

  10. #10
    Registered User xyzzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    78
    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    This is a very common way to use inversions. When this is done using some note in the lead that is not the melody - it's called comp'ing. Awareness of the specific note used in the lead and being able to choose a note for a specific effect is an advanced and very powerful skill.
    Cool! Glad to her that. For the past few weeks, I've been teaching myself progressions to a bunch of jazz standards, getting to where I can sing melody against my chords (and choosing songs that work for me in solo acoustic), but on some of them I'm studying deeper to find the melodies. Learning tons about diminished and half-diminished. Most songs I'm making myself aware of how to play it in at least two different spots on the neck -- which of course also generally makes one aware of a couple of the different forms and inversions of the chords in the song.
    Autumn Leaves
    Jeepers Creepers
    All of Me
    Willow Weep for Me
    Summertime
    As Time Goes By
    Making Whoopee
    Tubas in the Moonlight (Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band!)
    Misty -- this is the main one I've been working on chord melody with; if I can make this one work, the rest will seem easy!

    here I go ppiggybacking marginally related things on rbarata's threads again

  11. #11
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Twickenham, UK
    Posts
    4,959
    Quote Originally Posted by xyzzy View Post
    I feel like I'm hearing the highest note of a given chord "in the lead" as I try to work out chord melodies, so to my ears I feel like I'm often (currently) using inversions to get a desired melody note on top.

    I guess this qualifies as "transitional, relatively brief" as you say above.
    Inversions have nothing to do with which note is on the top - only which note is in the bass.
    Root position = root on bottom
    1st inversion = 3rd on bottom
    2nd inversion = 5th on bottom
    3rd inversion = 7th on bottom
    Any note can be on the top in any of these. (Eg, a root position C chord could be C-E-G or C-G-E, or C-E-G-C.)

    What you are talking about is either "voicing" (the order notes go in vertically and how they are spaced), or what classical harmony calls "position" (which note is on top). Eg, "position of the 5th" means the 5th of the chord on top. Any inversion can be "in the position of the 5th". (My reference is Hindemith's book on harmony.)

  12. #12
    Registered User xyzzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    78
    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Inversions have nothing to do with which note is on the top - only which note is in the bass.
    Root position = root on bottom
    1st inversion = 3rd on bottom
    2nd inversion = 5th on bottom
    3rd inversion = 7th on bottom
    Any note can be on the top in any of these. (Eg, a root position C chord could be C-E-G or C-G-E, or C-E-G-C.)

    What you are talking about is either "voicing" (the order notes go in vertically and how they are spaced), or what classical harmony calls "position" (which note is on top). Eg, "position of the 5th" means the 5th of the chord on top. Any inversion can be "in the position of the 5th". (My reference is Hindemith's book on harmony.)
    Thanks; "Voicing" does more accurately identify what I'm trying to do. I've only recently become able to spot multiple options for how to play a given chord quickly enough to start thinking strategically --- Identifying a given chord component I want and building a chord out from there in a way that satisfies my ears yet falls within the limited abilities of my poor fingers. Knowing several ways to play a chord is of course part of the toolbox, but I take your point: getting (say) a chord's third on top doesn't necessarily imply any given inversion. I'm currently puzzling out a bass line across chords in Ain't Misbehavin' and am seeing the more intimate relationship with inversion, as you say.

  13. #13
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    1,417
    Quote Originally Posted by xyzzy View Post
    Thanks; "Voicing" does more accurately identify what I'm trying to do. I've only recently become able to spot multiple options for how to play a given chord quickly enough to start thinking strategically --- Identifying a given chord component I want and building a chord out from there in a way that satisfies my ears yet falls within the limited abilities of my poor fingers. Knowing several ways to play a chord is of course part of the toolbox, but I take your point: getting (say) a chord's third on top doesn't necessarily imply any given inversion. I'm currently puzzling out a bass line across chords in Ain't Misbehavin' and am seeing the more intimate relationship with inversion, as you say.
    You may want to use this opportunity to identify & define the various voicings available for triads and 7th chords on the guitar. There are four common voicing classes for 7th chords used commonly on the guitar - closed position, drop-2, drop-3, drop-2&4. Each of these voicing groups may have multiple inversions. For triads it's easier - closed or open position - basically these are the various inversions over the various possible chord tones in the bass.

    cheers

  14. #14
    Registered User xyzzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    78
    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    You may want to use this opportunity to identify & define the various voicings available for triads and 7th chords on the guitar. There are four common voicing classes for 7th chords used commonly on the guitar - closed position, drop-2, drop-3, drop-2&4. Each of these voicing groups may have multiple inversions. For triads it's easier - closed or open position - basically these are the various inversions over the various possible chord tones in the bass.
    Yeah, this particular exercise (rudimentary voicing of lines) has definitely made me aware that I've neglected to learn/study my sevenths arpeggios at all up to this point. I'll be mapping them out and having a look.

    Those triad arps really have opened things up, though, as you said they would. Combining that with the learning of some vanilla-book jazz progressions as I have been doing, has been extremely fun and rewarding. It's a very new feeling to be able to see multiple paths through the progs like this.

Similar Threads

  1. Voicings and Inversions are same?
    By AsturiasFan in forum Music Theory
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 10-10-2010, 05:18 PM
  2. Chord Inversions Question
    By amin in forum Eartraining, Rhythm & Reading
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 07-03-2010, 07:17 PM
  3. chord inversions
    By Scurvy in forum Music Theory
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 10-03-2008, 07:41 PM
  4. Musical meaning of inversions and voicings?
    By EvilSmurf in forum Music Theory
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 08-13-2007, 09:53 AM
  5. Interval Inversions
    By nagukush in forum Music Theory
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 01-19-2007, 08:29 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •