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Part-writing Inverted Chords: Primary Triads In First Inversion

“Great title, Doc,” you say, with possibly just a tinge of sarcasm. “But what in the world is an inverted chord? How can a term like that even make sense?”

Admittedly, it can be a bit mind-boggling to try to imagine how a chord—which is, after all, just a particular sort of sound—can be turned bottom-uppermost. But in music theory “inverted” and “inversion” have specific technical meanings—yes, sadly, more than one. But let’s look at the meaning appropriate to this context.

In previous Hubs on part-writing—see the sidebar link below the picture for a summary—we have seen that triads are built upwards from a tone which we call the “root.” Above the root we find two other “chord tones”: the third and the fifth. And in each case, the root of the triad has also been the chord tone found in the bass—hence the term “root position.”

Another kind of inverted chord?  Irish guitarist Wallis Bird plays left-handed by turning her standard-strung guitar upside down.  Image courtesy Roland Frisch and Wikimedia Commons.

Another kind of inverted chord? Irish guitarist Wallis Bird plays left-handed by turning her standard-strung guitar upside down. Image courtesy Roland Frisch and Wikimedia Commons.

Are You Ready For This Hub? Check What Came Before!

  • Part-writing Chords: Summary I
    "Part-writing Inverted Chords" Hubs presumes basic part-writing skills. Here's a 'syllabus' and a summary of what's needed--and a guide to where you might want to start if the present Hub feels a little too advanced.