What are chords? Common chords are three notes that are played at the same time (block chord) or simultaneously (broken chord). Three notes are often described as required to define a chord. There are partial chords and four note chords (see blog 12/19/20 Four-Note Chords), but for simplicity we will discuss the common chord, which is three notes.

Any chord can be inverted, arranged in a different order called an inversion. What is an inversion? Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “the process or result of changing or reversing the relative positions of the notes of a musical interval (the distance between notes), chord, or phrase.” It is the reversal of position or the order they are in.

Let’s begin with an easy chord, the C chord. The root chord is C, E, G (and C is the root). Now lets put the same three notes in a different order (inversion #1) E, G, C. Let’s move them around one more time (inversion #2) G, C, E. Same three notes played three different ways: the root, inversion #1 and inversion #2.

An inverted chord can be a closed position or an open position. In the closed position the notes are as close to each other as possible. In the open position the notes are played farther apart. Inversions create a fuller sound and allow more variations when you are playing the piano. Your piano teacher can show you how to transition from one chord to another with a more natural sound and your piano playing should sound less abrupt. Whether you are playing the chord inversions on the piano or singing harmonies with chord inversions (see blog 11/24/20 Singing and Playing Harmonies – Chords), the music will sound beautiful with the inverted chords. Contact your local piano teacher or vocal coach to learn how!


What kind of phone makes music?

A saxophone.

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