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Joined: 23 Jun 2008
Lessons: 4
Karma: 35

Chord inversions to make things interesting.

by Empirism

9 Jan 2011
Views: 17946

First of all, I hope I speak with correct terms here where I believe that Chord Inversions are same than Chord variations. Correct me if Im wrong thank you.

Allright, lets get started. Lets say that you are in the new band and you or others do not know any songs? Whats then? You may start learning some covers from tablatures, notations or by ear... but... but nothing and I mean NOTHING is better than cool jamming, atleast when you are drinking or having little fun in the friday evening with the band.

Hmm, lets think that other guitarist, pianist, saxophonist or whatever say... "play some Dm7", "I start jam on that"... ... ... You think... ... ... "What, Dm7, one chord or...?" and here I mean one chord as one chord inversion.

A...ight... playing or jamming one chord inversion say about 15 minutes or half an hour is NOT RECOMMENDED in any circumstances, any situations to confirm that you or others keep their mental health.
Whats then?

Learn your inversions... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...Yes. Learn your inversions. No shortcut.

You will surprised how playing with inversions makes things different. Lets use that Dm7 in example, because that imaginary band member requested :D... I made a little example here, where I made a simple 4/4 rhythm. I learned 4 variations of Dm7 chord. (those are my favorites on Dm7)... see you dont have to learn ALL of them, even thou its more better if you do, but its not necessary.

Aight, In this I used following inversions, I put links, because I just fail with those tab things...

4th inversion :
9th inversion :
1st inversion :
10th Inversion:

So here are the drum track if that you can try them if you wish.

Aight, if you dont have guitar around, you may hear here how they sounds.

And here lets do some lead over it, learning inversions also help with your improvising and lead play, just play the notes that your chord inversions contain, In jazz, you have to know what chord is played and when scales comes from chords, you quess the rest...:), you are there.

Little theory about Chord Inversions

A chord's inversion describes the relationship of its bass to the other notes in the chord. For example, a C major triad contains the notes C, E and G; its inversion is determined by which of these notes is used as the bottom note in the chord.

In music theory, also Melodies and intervals have inversions and in counterpoint there are also inverted voices. When Inverting intervals, perfect intervals remain perfect, major intervals become minor and the reverse, augmented intervals become diminished and the reverse.

My studies of counterpoints are so...well... at beginning, that I cant tell much of inversion in voices, someone can fill this part to replies if they feel need to.

This is also just my one shot combination of inversions in Dm7, its up to your creativity what inversion changes to use, but one thing is sure... It makes your playing much more interesting.

all this is quite new for me too and I noticed that for me now only way is just memorize and practise different inversions/variations, if someone know cool methods or ways to help memorizing those, please comment... feedback is also appreciated. Thank you for reading




Very cool lesson. Thanks for posting. Now I want more inversions.


Good lesson Emp... keep it up!


Good lesson Emp. Knowing this can keep rhythm patterns more colorful. I like to use inversions and variations when I am picking the rhythm patterns. I don't believe inversions and variations are the same thing though..Example: chord is 135. 1st inversion=351 2nd inversion is 513. If chord has 3 notes it only has root and 2 inversions. You change which note is used for bass note. 7th chords have 4 notes 1357 so they have root and 3 inversions.
Variations are when you play the chord using different patterns. Think of CAGED system. C shape and A shape= same chord, same bass note so it is a variation, not inversion. Still this is a good lesson and everyone should learn inversions and many variations of the inversions. Thanks man!


I thought an inversion was when you inverted (reverse/flip) it.


Thanks Mosh for correcting, I try to find time to update lessons soon as possible.


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