Week 2 – A Lesson On The Inversion Of Major Chords

If you’re interested in learning about the inversion of chords, then you’ll find this lesson very helpful.

Major triads are not always played in their fundamental position. Understanding how major chords are inverted will show you other ways a major chord can be played — first inversion, and second inversion.

Attention: We’ll talk about the fundamental position, first inversion, and second inversion in subsequent segments in this lesson.

Alright, let’s get started with a brief review on major chords.

A Short Note On Major Chords

The major chord is the 1-chord in the major key formed when the first, third, and fifth tones of the major scale are played or heard together.

In the key of C major, the C major scale:

…can be used to form a major chord.

“It’s Simple. Here’s How It Works…”

The first, third, and fifth tones of the C major scale:

…are C, E, and G:

When played together, C, E, and G form the C major triad:

Chords that are formed by an aggregate of three notes are classified as triads. So the C major chord:

…is a triad and can also be called the C major triad.

Using the major scale, the major chord (or major triad) can be formed when the first, third, and fifth tones of the scale are played or heard together.

For example, using the E major scale:

…the E major chord can be formed using the first, third, and fifth tones of the E major scale which are E, G#, and B:

“Here Are All The Major Chords On The Keyboard…”

The C major chord:

The Db major chord:

The D major chord:

The Eb major chord:

The E major chord:

The F major chord:

The Gb major chord:

The G major chord:

The Ab major chord:

The A major chord:

The Bb major chord:

The B major chord:

The Octave Transposition Technique — Explained

The octave transposition technique is one of the tools that can be used in the inversion of chords and I’ll be showing you step-by-step how it works.

The octave transposition concept makes it possible for a particular music idea to be transferred from the octave it is given to a another octave (which may be higher or lower).

So, we can have the octave transposition of notes, scales, intervals, chords, progressions, etc., from a given octave to a higher or lower octave. In this lesson, our focus is on the octave transposition of notes from the given octave to higher or lower octaves.

For example, the G note:

…can either be transposed to a higher octave (G):

…or a lower octave (G):

The transfer of G:

..to its higher octave (G):

…or lower octave (G):

…is called octave transposition and octave transposition is one technique that is useful in the inversion of chords.

How To Invert Major Chords

Our focus in this lesson is still the inversion of major chords. Let’s go ahead and learn how major chords can be inverted using the octave transposition.

The Fundamental Position

The C major chord:

…is said to be in its fundamental position or root position and this is because the root is the lowest sounding note.

In the C major chord:

…the lowest sounding note is C:

Therefore, it’s in fundamental or root position.

The First Inversion

The octave transposition of the root note of the C major:

…(which is C):

…to a higher octave (C):

…produces the first inversion of the C major chord:

…where the lowest sounding chord tone is the third (E):

“In A Nutshell…”

The octave transposition of the root note in a root position (from its position to a higher octave) chord produces the first inversion.

“Check Out All The Major Chords In First Inversion…”

The C major chord:

The Db major chord:

The D major chord:

The Eb major chord:

The E major chord:

The F major chord:

The Gb major chord:

The G major chord:

The Ab major chord:

The A major chord:

The Bb major chord:

The B major chord:

The Second Inversion

The octave transposition of the fifth tone of the C major chord:

…(which is G):

…to a lower octave (G):

…produces the second inversion of the C major chord:

…where the lowest sounding chord tone is the third (G):

“In A Nutshell…”

The octave transposition of the fifth tone in a root position chord (from its position to a lower octave) produces the second inversion.

“Check Out All The Major Chords In Second Inversion…”

The C major chord:

The Db major chord:

The D major chord:

The Eb major chord:

The E major chord:

The F major chord:

The Gb major chord:

The G major chord:

The Ab major chord:

The A major chord:

The Bb major chord:

The B major chord:

Final Words

Using the octave transposition technique, a major chord can be inverted from its fundamental position to its first and second inversions respectively. Altogether, that’s three different ways of playing a major chord.

In a subsequent lesson, we’ll be learning the primary function of these major chords.

See you then!

All the best.

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Chuku Onyemachi

Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. I started teaching musicians in my neighbourhood in April 2005. Today, I'm humbled to work as a music consultant with HearandPlay Music Group for musicians in Africa and beyond.

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1 comment
Carolyn says May 4, 2019

Thanks. I am finding so much helpful information. And it is broken down so simple. I am really excited about learning the Theory behind music. I am so amazed about how much I have learned and yet still learning. The fact that it didn’t take me years to learn what you all have taught me. Thank God for GMTC. God bless you.

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