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Chord hacks depend hugely on inversions.  So in this lesson, you’re going to learn how to take simple triads and reorder how the notes are stacked to make new chord inversions!  

The best way to learn chord inversions is to take a chord you already know very well, like the C major triad.  The C major triad is made of the notes C – E and G.  Those are the notes you need to make the chord, but those chords don’t necessarily need to be spelled out in that order.  You can actually take the three notes of this chord and reorder them in three different ways!  These alternate chord reorderings are called inversions.  

To make the first inversion of the C major triad, take the C note off the bottom of the chord instead play the C on the octave above.  This makes the chord spelled out E – G – C, also known as C first inversion.  

Now that you know how to make a C major chord in first inversion, you can take the E off the bottom of the chord and put it one octave higher on top.  This makes the chord G – C – E, or C second inversion.  

If you do this inversion trick one more time, you’ll find that you end up on the original form of the C chord, just an octave above.  Practicing all the inversions in one fluid motion is a great way to familiarize yourself with the keyboard and gain some essential muscle memory as well.  

Once you’ve learned the C major chord in all its inversions, try taking the same concept and applying it to the other chords that you’ve learned so far, the V chord, the minor vi chord and the IV chord.  You can make a root position chord, a first inversion and a second inversion out of each triad!

Jordan Leibel

Jordan Leibel is passionate about songwriting, improvisation, and helping you become a creative musician! He’s worked as a composer for film, commercial, and theatre projects as well as a session musician and producer for recording work.

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