What s an inverted chord

What's An Inverted Chord - Open and Close Voicings

What s an inverted chordWhat's An Inverted Chord?

The notes of a chord whether it is a triad (containing just three notes) or a tetrad (built with four notes) can be reshuffled in different order. The name of the chord will still remain the same, but the bass will not necessarily the root note. This is the lowest note (the bass note) that determines the name of the inverted chord. So, chord inversion simply refers to which note is in the bass. You will find here some example for a better understanding of what are inverted chords.

 

Triad Inversion

What Are Inverted Triads?

Let's take an example with a C major triad. The root position is spelled C (root) - E (major third) and G (fifth). This root voicing can provide two other inverted chords :

  • In the 1st inversion the bass note (C) is now on the top of the chord so, the third (E) becomes the bass note. This inverted chord will be renamed C/E.
  • The 2nd inverted chord is built by putting the bass note (E) of the previous inversion on the top. Thus, giving a chord with the fifth in the bass wich is written C/G.

This also naturally applies to all types of triads (minor, diminished and augmented).

 

Inverted triads

What Are Spread Voicings aka Open Chord Voicings?

Please note that the triad chords previously seen are named "close voicings" because all notes are placed within one and unique octave. There also other combinations of triad chords called "spread voicings or open chord voicings". The notes of are spread out over more one octave.

As you see in the examples below, an open triad voicing is built by dropping a note of a close triad chord voicing an octave higher thus, giving a new chord spread over more than one octave. 

  • When moving the third (E in the example) of a close triad in its root position we obtain an open voiced triad.
  • When moving the fifth (G) of the first inversion of a closed triad we get another open triad chord with the third in the bass.
  • When dropping the root (C) of the second inversion of a closed triad we get a spread triad voicing with the fifth in the bass.

 

Open triad chord voicings

Seventh Chord Inversion

How To Invert Seventh Chords?

Seventh chords are built with four-notes, these are commonly named tetrad chords. Like triads, seventh chords can be inverted by moving the bass note up an octave, thus providing three other inverted voicings.

The example below explains how to invert a close voiced seventh chord. To create the 1st inversion you just need to put the root note (C) at the top of the chord which gives a new 7th chord with the third in the bass (Cmaj7/E). The second inversion (Cmaj7/E) consists of putting the third (E) at the top of the chord, thus giving a chord with the fifth in the bass. The third tetrad inversion (Cmaj7/G) has the seventh (G) in the bass and the fifth is now the highest note of the chord.

 

7th chord inversion

 

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