N-version 664.765.4342

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Welcome back my theory enthusiasts! I hope all us ‘Muricans enjoyed Independence Day, and I sincerely hope our international readers’ day was just as good! Mine went quite well, hence the lateness of this post. Lucky me that you don’t pay for this! Or maybe not lucky me… You can pay me if you want, but for now, let’s call it good.

Last time we talked about chords, specifically the types of triads and seventh chords, which are made of intervals and…well, go back and read it, if you haven’t. Remember that in a chord there is the root, 3rd, 5th, and sometimes 7th. There are times in music when a chord will not be in, what is called, “root position”.

Picture1

If a chord is not in root position, then it is in an “inversion.” The process of inverting is pretty simple over all, but I’m going to step back to a two-note harmony to explain this.

The most blunt way of explaining inversion is, one note must cross one or more notes in movement to the next octave like so:

Picture2

The reason for doing this is because it changes the sonority of the two notes. The above image shows an inversion from C-E, an interval of a M3, to E-C, an interval of a m6. You can also invert the other way, E-C to C-E, a m6 inverted to a M3. Here are a few examples of inverting intervals (I will not use an arrow going forward, just to let ya know, mangs).

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 9.32.10 AM

Regarding the new interval, there is a pattern to inverting notes and knowing what the new interval is.  I picked up a trick from the Tonal Harmony 5th Ed. by Stefan Kostka and the late Dorothy Payne.  The constant value of 9 is the method you can use to find the interval.  Essentially, start with 9 and subtract the current interval.

9 9 9 9 9 9
-2 -3 -4 -5 -6 -7
=7 =6 =5 =4 =3 =2

 

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You may have noticed earlier that I changed the quality of the interval as well.  The major 3rd became a minor 6th upon inverting, which holds true when inverting a diminished interval.  They become augmented chords, and vice versa.  Perfect intervals are the exception.

Picture5

Old quality M m P + o
New quality m M P o +

 

So, them’s the basics of inverting intervals, which I feel we can talk about inverting triads and seventh chords now!

As I said earlier, inverting intervals changes the harmony, and this is used to create more interesting textures in compositions. Other than root position triads, there are also 1st, and 2nd inversion triads. Seventh chords are the same, but with a 3rd inversion, with the 7th acting as the root of the chord. If you want to, think of inverting a chord as moving a chord member, other than the root, to the bass position (lowest voice) of your composition.

Picture6

At the end of the last post, I started talking about Roman Numeral analysis. A quick guide to telling us what quality a chord is, and where it is in the key. To add to that, there are symbols that tell us what inversion the chord is in. Root position triads will have no marker. First inversion triads are marked with a 6, and second inversions are 6 over 4 (6/4). Check the Roman numeral markers in the image above. The marker 6 is in reference to the interval of a 6th between the 3rd of the chord and the root of the chord. The 2nd inversion triad has an interval of a 6th and a 4th above the acting root. For the seventh chords, I want to try something different. I want to see if any readers want to explain the markers for the seventh chords. Let’s omit the position for obvious reasons. If you already know this, I ask that you give those who don’t know a chance to mull it over. To help memorize the inversion symbols, I think of it as a phone number (665)-765-4342. I know we aren’t in an age of remembering phone numbers, but come on – you can do it!

As always, if you want to ask any questions, please leave a comment below, or e-mail me at the link below. Hit me up on Instagram (@boognishtheory) for anything music related! Know of a band I should hear? Then quit hording those tunes, and send them to me! Want to know the best beer for bratwurst? Then share this, and I’ll let you stuff my opinion down your face hole. Here is one last table giving you those inversion symbols, if you didn’t like my hand-drawn one.

Bass position Triad symbol Seventh chord symbol
Root position (none) 7
First inversion 6 6

5

Second inversion 6

4

4

3

Third inversion (none) 4

2   (or just 2)

As always, thanks for turning on my corner!