Reordering a chord’s notes so a pitch other than the root is on the bottom

Sam Blakelock avatar
Written by Sam Blakelock
Updated over a week ago

The notes of a chord can be rearranged in any order – when we do this, it’s called an inversion. The chord's name will still be the same, but the root note will no longer be in root position. We use inversions for voice-leading purposes, to give a chord a different sound or color, and to smooth transitions between chords, among other reasons.

For example, a root position C triad is made up of C (Root), E (Third), and G (Fifth).

If we take the root, and move it one octave higher, we get the 1st inversion of a C triad made up of E (Third), G (Fifth) and C (Root)

The second inversion C triad moves the E up an octave, so we have G (Fifth), C (Root) and E (Third). All three of these chords can be called "C," we’ve just shuffled the order of notes. Inversions can also be applied to 7th chords.

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