Root Position`1st`2nd`&`3rd Inversions & Voicings.

Discussion in 'Guitar Lessons, Tutorials & Tips' started by MuktiMusic, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. MuktiMusic

    MuktiMusic New Member

    The term inversion refers to the position of notes in relationship to the root of a given chord: specifically triads [R35] and 7th chords [R357].

    Root position: The Root is in the bass.
    1st inversion: The 3rd is in the bass.
    2nd inversion: The 5th is in the bass.
    3rd inversion: The 7th is in the bass.

    Some combinations are easier for the guitarist unless of course you're Allan Holdsworth!

    Visualize the C major scale:


    The triad of the C chord would look like this in root position & when rotated {inverted}:

    CEG: Root postion [root is in the bass]
    CGE: Root position
    EGC: 1st inversion [3rd is in the bass]
    ECG: 1st inversion
    GCE: 2nd inversion [5th is in the bass]
    GEC: 2nd inversion

    The chords would appear like this in a song or a chart:
    C......Root position
    C/E.. 1st inversion
    C/G.. 2nd inversion

    7th chords can also be inverted. So regarding the Cmaj7 chord for example:
    C E G B= Cmaj7 chord:

    C is the Root
    E is the 3rd
    G is the 5th
    B is the 7th

    The root and inverted chords would appear like this in a song or a chart:

    Cmaj7....Root position
    Cma7/E..1st inversion
    Cmaj7/G 2nd inversion
    Cmaj7/B 3rd inversion

    By adding the interval of a 7th to the chord we now have the following voicings and inversions available to us. Voicings refer to the way the chord is laid out.

    Root position:

    1st inversion:

    2nd inversion:

    3rd inversion:

    It becomes apparent that the more variety we have in the voicings of our chords, the more choices we have. The C triad above has 6 voicings. The Cmaj7 chord has 24 voicings. Some of them are somewhat impossible to play on the guitar so the idea would be to explore these permutations and see what we can wrap our hands around.

    Minor [Rb35], diminished [Rb3b5], and augmented triads [13#5] can also be rotated {inverted} as can their 7th chords, including the dominant chord family beginning with the dom7 chord: R35b7. Continue that thought to include:

    min7: Rb35b7
    min/Maj7: Rb357
    dim: Rb3b56
    1/2 dim7 {min7b5}: Rb3b5b7
    Maj7aug5: R3#57
    7aug5: R3#5b7

    Other rotations are available as well. But I'm not always in the mood for more punishment! Does it ever end? Why would we want it to?!

    One thing that a study like this will do is put a `crack` in the way we look at chords. It will surprise us. And surprise is a good thing. Surprise can penetrate and liberate our hearing. And it's in our hearing that change takes place.


    My Websites:
    110 MB of free acoustic guitar downloads:`fingerstyle`slide`altered tunings.
    aleric likes this.
  2. Rey1970

    Rey1970 New Member

    good post ,keep it up.
  3. ambush

    ambush _RASTA_man_

  4. d_ist_urb_ed

    d_ist_urb_ed Genuflect b*tches!

    ^What the hell did that mean?
    @Mukti, great lesson again, thank you. But this belongs in the guitar tutorials forum. Thread moved!
  5. propellerhead

    propellerhead Banned

    awesome man. this post does make u think and rethink how your perceive chords and vertical intervals.

    MM, your posts are so rich in information, and u posted so many of them in a day.. it would take me at leasta month to give full justice to them :) thanks again
  6. MuktiMusic

    MuktiMusic New Member

    No Rush...

    Take your time. I had been posting in the AGF and discovered this site; I thought the tutorials, beginning to advance would have merit.

    More to come.

    MM :shock: <[cute guy]
  7. Liquid

    Liquid New Member

    EGC: 1st inversion [3rd is in the bass]
    ECG: 1st inversion come they both say first inversion...but the second time the G and C are inversed....are they both the 1st inversion of C chord?...
  8. MuktiMusic

    MuktiMusic New Member


    They're permutations. It's like saying: XYZ & XZY. Both have X in the bass and that is what determines it's inversion.

    MM ;)
  9. deathdr_87

    deathdr_87 Awesome Guitarist

    i know abt. these inversions- but - mukti can u pls. tell me this - uve said that
    are different voicings- i didnt know that inversions were also there for the 2nd lowest note, etc...
    so my question is - how are they referred to on achord chart - i surely a different voicing must have a different name on a chart.. i think in one of my compositions, i had this situation when a chord would change its voicing but i had no way to make this change apparent (on a chord sheet for the composition) because the root note stayed the same...

    nice post... - reps to u

    also - u must be aware of these things that i call short chords - theyre jazz powerchords - now in jazz - a power chord generally avoids the root and fifth and only plays the 'tonal' notes that matter the most - for example, the 7th and 9th for a 7th add9 chord. - now how are these referred to on a chord chart - lets say i take
    C maj7thadd9 ut i dont play the C note or the G note... they just normally interfere with the actual tone of the chord...
  10. MuktiMusic

    MuktiMusic New Member



    Voicings and inversions are 2 different things. When I refer to an inversion I am speaking only about the lowest note which is in the denominator. So a first inversion CM9/E chord containing the notes: 1 2 3 5 7= C D E G B, could be any sequence of these notes over an E bass and voiced:

    35271 etc.

    Some of these would be difficult to play, ergo the Alan Holdsworth comment. All those combinations are all first inversions, which is referring only to the lowest note, the 3rd=E in this case. I would call all of those 'voicings' CM9/E. You'd need staff to be more specific. Otherwise I would explain my self verbally to indicate the relationships.

    >Cmaj7add9 is a CM9 chord: 1 2 3 5 7= C D E G B. If I didn't include the R & 5th we would have D E B. I'd call the chord CM9 (-R-5) which would imply the tonal center.

    MM :beer:
  11. aysh

    aysh -|h3 ori9in4| (ui!aris-|-

    arey baapre..:~) i just somehow manage to understand ur posts and that too coz i have been reading some theory online. for theory noobs this site is a very good place.
    here u follw a link for advanced music theory. very nice lessons
  12. deathdr_87

    deathdr_87 Awesome Guitarist

    hm... thanks for clearing out the diff etween inversions and voicings - that really helped...

    hmm. so the notation XM9 - X being any note - means that the following notes are included:

    so if i wanted to remove the 7th it would be called a Cadd9 right?

    also it sux that there is no way to refer to a voicing in a chord chart....

    (sorry i dont know all these notations too well - never read any books or anything - just worked it all out from scales and reading a few lessons online)

    thanks again
  13. MuktiMusic

    MuktiMusic New Member


    I also take a short cut and call 1235=CDEG=Cadd9= a C2 chord. This tells me that I am using a triad plus the 2nd and saves me the trouble of having to write the word 'add' all the time. Likewise I would use C4 for C add11: 1345 & C2/4 for C add9/11: 12345. I use the higher exponents: 9, 11, & 13 when either a minor 7th or major 7th is present. This is my spin but with most musicians I work with it communicates easily.

    I'm self taught as well. Just been doing it for awhile. Nothing wrong with that.

    MM ;)
  14. deathdr_87

    deathdr_87 Awesome Guitarist


    nice trick for alzy ppl - but dont u need to add the 'sus' word for the 2nd?

    well i guess ppl will understand without that neways...

    ya - i get wat ur saying - even though im also learing on my won - ill stiull manage to pickup all the correct notations in time..

    i had one more question - this came up in some toher post...

    now some1 was asking if the chord Am/5+ existed - wouldnt it be known as an F/A - Am/5+ - doesnt belong to any triad that has A as its root - but it might be known as A for its tonal characteristic -so how would u classify a this chord -as an Am/5+ or F/A - or well does it not really matter?
  15. MuktiMusic

    MuktiMusic New Member

    Sus chords...

    I use 'sus' when I am referring to a chord in which the third has been suspended.


    C2=1235=CDEG [Cadd9]
    C4 0r C3/4=1345=CEFG=Cadd11

    Actually power chords C5=15=CG should be written Csus5. But I like the brevity of C5, and the meaning is clear. I kind of feel that the way power chords [X5] are delineated is somewhat 'slang'. But I could be wrong. I include C3/4 above as an alternative to C4 for this reason. Keep in mind that this is my way of abbreviating.It is a conservative hybrid. But it is clear to those I communicate with.

    They way you've written the chord: Am/5+ is not exactly clear. Does the chord contain the 5 and/or the +5 [aug 5]?


    MM :shock:
  16. DrSaurabh

    DrSaurabh Wh@+s Up D0C

    miles over my head.......the conversation b.w MM and D87..............:shock:
  17. deathdr_87

    deathdr_87 Awesome Guitarist

    sorry meant Am/+5 - yes its an aug 5th interval

    ya u listed it there - ACF = F/A - thanks... - u ought to teach in some professional class...
  18. Liquid

    Liquid New Member

    and u guys are telling me that u both learned this BY YOURSELVES? :-o
  19. deathdr_87

    deathdr_87 Awesome Guitarist

    yes... but most chord names are actually logical - hence you can mostly work out the notes from the names - but then confusions do arrive - liek my confusion seen in tihs thread.
  20. aysh

    aysh -|h3 ori9in4| (ui!aris-|-

    hi Muktimusic (or ne1 who wishes to answer) !
    q1) do the 'open' and 'closed' voicings have their significance in just the manner the notes are wriiten down or even a chord which i am holding can be classifiied into these two. ? :think:

    q2)why do we use the term 'add9' when its actually the 2nd interval thats been added to a chord (for eg. R-2-3-5 is Xadd9) ? similarly why is it 'add11' when a 4th interval has been added ? :think:

    q3)cant the notes ACEF be termed as Amin/maj7 (R-b3-5-7) instead of FM7/A as u wrote ?? or are both correct ? :think:

    :rock: :cool:

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