# Triads Part II INVERSIONS and how to use them

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1 Inversions Overview 1 st Inversion 2 nd Inversion Inversion Shapes & Suggested Fingerings How to Prac;ce Inversions Using Inversions - For recognizing chords in music nota;on - Using lead sheets - melody RH, chords LH Triads Part II INVERSIONS and how to use them - harmonizing the melody in RH

2 Inversions Overview An Inversion is simply a re- ordering of the notes of a chord. Here we will discuss the inversions of the triad A ROOT POSITION TRIAD has the ascending note order: Root, 3 rd, 5 th. For every triad there are three possible inversions, root posi;on being the first. The naming of the inversions can be confusing, as Root Posi;on is frequently mistaken as the first inversion. Think of the word inversion as varia;on and things will make more sense. Root posi;on, 1 st inversion (varia;on), 2 nd inversion (varia;on) Here are the three inversions of C Major: Root Posi;on (root, 3 rd, 5 th ) 1 st inversion (3 rd, 5 th, root) 2 nd inversion (5 th, root, 3 rd ) Despite the different note orders, each inversion s;ll sounds like the same chord, and this is where we will discover some powerful ideas about how to apply the concept of inversions towards our goal of a full, confidant sound. Interval Structure In order to fully understand and recognize inversions quickly in sheet music and on the keyboard, it s helpful to know the INTERVAL STRUCTURE of each chord inversion. Remember, an interval is simply the distance between two notes. Every chord inversion (and every chord, for that ma^er) has what is called an interval structure, which means the sequence of intervals in a chord from the bo^om note to the top note. In a triad, there are three intervals, the interval between the bo^om and middle notes, the interval between the middle and top notes, and the interval between the bo^om and top notes. For our purposes, we will only discuss the first two.. 1 st interval (boaom & middle notes) 2 nd interval (middle and top notes) Root Posi;on 3rd 3rd 1 st inversion 3rd 4th 2 nd inversion 4th 3rd

3 1 st & 2 nd Inversion The formula for a 1 st inversion triad is: (3 rd, 5 th, Root). The root is played up one octave from where it is in Root Posi;on. Think: Root on Top C Major - 1 st inversion 3 rd 5 th R C Major 2 nd inversion 5 th R 3 rd The formula for a 2 nd inversion triad is: (5 th, Root, 3 rd ) The 3 rd is played up one octave from where it is in 1 st inversion. Think: Root in the Middle When moving through the inversions of a chord, It s helpful to see that only one note is moving, as opposed to trying to build each inversion from scratch. For example, in a first inversion triad the root of the moves up one octave while the 3 rd and 5 th do not move. The same theory applies to the 2 nd inversion triad. Only one note is moving. Here we ve simply taken the bo^om note from the 1 st inversion triad, the 3 rd, and moved it up one octave so that it s now on top of the chord voicing. No;ce that the root is in the middle of the 2 nd inversion. Intervallic Structures! An interval is defined as the distance between two notes. A knowledge of intervals is essen;al when iden;fying chord inversions. Intervals are also very important to know for reading music. Intervals in 1 st inversion 3 rd 5 th 3 rd 4 th R The interval structure of a 1 st inversion triad is a 3rd on the boaom (the interval between 3 rd and 5 th ) and a 4 th on top (the interval between the 5 th and the root). The interval between the 3 rd and root is a sixth. The interval structure of a 2 nd inversion triad is a 4 th on the boaom (the interval between the 5 th and the Root) and a 3 rd on top (the interval between the Root and the 3 rd ). Intervals in 2 nd inversion 5 th 4 th R 3 rd 3 rd

4 Flatlands/Plateau Shape Root Posi;on (root, 3 rd, 5 th ) Inversion Shapes (see triad lesson) & Suggested Fingerings 1 st inversion (3 rd, 5 th, root) 2 nd inversion (5 th, root, 3 rd ) Mountain Shape Root Posi;on (root, 3 rd, 5 th ) RH st inversion (3 rd, 5 th, root) LH nd inversion (5 th, root, 3 rd ) Valley Shape Root Posi;on (root, 3 rd, 5 th ) RH st inversion (3 rd, 5 th, root) LH nd inversion (5 th, root, 3 rd ) RH LH 5 2 1

5 Inversion Shapes & Suggested Fingerings - con;nued Cliffs Shape - B Major Root Posi;on (root, 3 rd, 5 th ) 1 st inversion (3 rd, 5 th, root) 2 nd inversion (5 th, root, 3 rd ) Cliffs Shape - Bb Major Root Posi;on (root, 3 rd, 5 th ) RH st inversion (3 rd, 5 th, root) LH nd inversion (5 th, root, 3 rd ) RH LH 5 2 1

6 Using Inversions Using Chord Inversions to Read Music 9 Using Chord Inversions and Lead Sheets C G C G C G F G C G C G C F G C

7 Using Chord Inversions to Read Music Remember on pages 3 and 4 of this lesson how we used the INTERVALLIC STRUCTURE in each chord inversion to help us memorize them? This is how most pianists learn to read chords quickly, by reading the interval structure. Root Posi;on Interval Structure: 3 rd on bo^om, 3 rd on top / root on bo^om 1 st Inversion Interval Structure: 3 rd on bo^om, 4 th on top / root on top 2 nd Inversion Interval Structure: 4 th on bo^om, 3 rd on top / root in middle See if you can iden;fy each chord inversion for the bass clef chords using their interval structures. The chord names are provided above the staff: C C C G C F C G C F C G G C C G G C Try the same thing for the Treble Clef: C G C C F G C G F F C C F G C

8 Random Triad Inversions See if you can iden;fy each triad and what inversion it is in: ANSWERS: Am / Dm / G / Cm Ab / Db / Fm / Bb F# / B / E / F Bm / Dm / C / F

9 Triads are frequently played with more than 3 notes by doubling either the root, 3 rd, or 5 th. Doubling one of the notes creates a bigger, fuller sound, and helps to emphasize the top voice, which is usually the melody. In these types of structures, the chord is framed by an octave, with the other chord tones in the middle. If you look closely you ll see that these structures contains two chord inversions. If you learn to see simple inversion shapes by quickly recognizing 3rds and 4ths, you will be able to read larger chord shapes more easily over ;me. Even if you can t iden;fy the chord, if you can at least see the interval structures, and know what key you are reading in, you ll be able to play these larger shapes confidently with a li^le prac;ce. Fix this!

10 Recognizing Melodic Intervals and Chord Inversions in Melodic Lines. Most melodies use chord tones extensively, and some;mes even exclusively, as in our examples below. See if you can iden;fy the chord and it s inversion for each measure: 1 2

12 Basic Lead Sheet Method RH RH plays Melody note on top, adding two one, two, or more notes underneath melody note to complete the triad. Melody note is almost always the highest note Choose closest available chord tones underneath the melody! Example #1 melody Example #1 harmonized with 1 chord tone

13 Example #1 harmonized with 2 chord tones Now that we know all about intervals, chord inversions, and how to harmonize a melody, it s ;me to take all of this informa;on and create two handed arrangements. In the next chapter we will learn how to take a harmonized melody in the RH, and play suppor;ng structures in the LH. Go over the next two pages with your teacher and then prac;ce the following exercises un;l you can play each well. Once you ve completed this lesson, try working with a lead sheet provided by your teacher!

14 PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER Just harmonizing a melody in the RH is usually not enough to make a piece of music come to life. To fully realize the poten;al of a lead sheet the pianist must use the melody, the harmony, and the rhythmic feel of a song. Here we will work on a basic two handed method for doing this. Once you ve mastered this lesson, move on to more challenging songs (a list is included at the end of the lesson). Working Out Your Own Style To play a song well, you must: 1. Clearly state the melody 2. Play chord tones and accompaniment parts clearly, making sure to balance the volumes properly 3. Know the form of the song, including intros and endings 4. Play all parts with rhythmic accuracy 5. Use dynamics (volume and phrasing) to create the dynamic/narra;ve arc that propels the song forward Both hands must func;on together as one, and this is where the magic comes together when reading lead sheets and making up your own arrangements on the spot. It takes a lot of concentra;on to do well, but once you start gekng good at it the possibili;es are virtually endless in terms of improvising arrangements. The main point is to figure out how you are going to deal with the three main variables: Melody, Harmony, and Rhythm/Feel. Right Hand The melody is typically voiced on TOP of the RH, usually with the 4 th or 5 th finger. The lower fingers of the RH play chord tones underneath the melody. It s important to learn to control these two separate func;ons of the RH, as some;mes the melody note and chord don t change at exactly the same ;me. In these instances lower notes in the RH (chord tones) will follow the LH chord, while the top note of the RH (the melody) will play either before or aher the chord, depending on the situa;on. Le] Hand The leh hand provides three very important func;ons: It defines the chords by establishing the bass and filling out support tones (some combina;on of root, 5 th, and octave most commonly) It makes chords sound full by adding support tones It helps define the rhythmic character and feel

15 LEFT HAND STRUCTURES AND APPLICATIONS For this lesson, the leh hand will use one of four structures. Understand that there is no limit to what the leh hand can play, but it s be^er to start with basics here. These structures are the most commonly used in all styles of western music. Root used for sparse arrangements, and for when the melody note is low enough to necessitate fewer voices in both hands Root & 5 th - a strong, clean sounding support structure appropriate in most situa;ons. Good for simple rhythms. Root & Octave - Not as full as a 5 th, but gives clear direct roots/bass tones, and can also provide pure bass power at any volume. Good for simple rhythms. Root, 5 th, Octave - a fuller version of the root & 5 th.. Connects the LH to the RH usually very well. Very good choice for adding simple rhythmic pa^erns Root, 1 st or 2 nd inversion chord - for a full, compact sound. Good for chords being played no lower than an octave below middle C (SAY THIS BETTER) Low Interval Limits for LH - Certain chords sound muddy and dissonant when played too low, so when harmonizing low melody notes it is some;mes necessary to omit notes from either the RH or LH (usually the 3 rd of the chord); or to transfer notes from RH to LH.

16 Here is an 8 measure song with melody and chord symbols included. LH chords have been provided in root posi;on for reference. Melody #2 with chords LH 5 9 Get familiar with this song and then move on to the next page

17 BASIC RH HARMONIZATION: Melody harmonized with 2 chord tones underneath RH harmoniza;on with LH root posi;on triads. No;ce RH chord voicing adjustments for lower melody notes. 5

18 Another treatment, using root posi;on triads and root- 5 th - octave support structure LH. Again, no;ce RH adjustments to accommodate for LH The exact same RH and LH structures, but with mo;on added to the LH 17 21

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