Inversions and alternate chord voicings

Some chord construction, and an understanding of triads is recommended to get the most out of this teaching.


Technical terminology

There is a technical way to identify inversions. Knowing these phrases will not only make you smarter, but it will increase your musical vocabulary, which will make you a more versatile musician. Basic Major and Minor chords are constructed with “triads”. A triad is 3 notes and are the notes that make up the foundation of chords. The difference between a major and minor chord lies in the “3” and whether it be flatted or not. Flatted makes it a minor.

Inversion terms

A normal chord voicing is called a “Root Position” because the root of the chord is the lowest note being played. A voicing becomes an inversion when the root is not the lowest note being played in the chord. Pretty simple right? The terms commonly used for inversions are “1st inversion” and “2nd inversion”. A 1st inversion will have the 3rd as the lowest note, and a second will have the fifth as its lowest. This is why they are called inversions, because the voicing of the triad is inverted in some way giving a new flavor and spice to your playing. Each one has its own tonal characteristic. The first and second inversion concept remains the same for both major and minor chords. 7th and ninth chords can also be inverted but usually use more than a triad, which would make a great topic for a whole new series of lessons. If you would like to know about 7ths and ninths I encourage you to check out some of the great jazz guitar sites on the net.

Using a “D Hand” chord shape to demonstrate a 2nd inversion

In this video I demonstrate a “D hand” chord voicing. I show that you fret the 1st, 2nd and 3rd stings just like you would a D chord, but unlike a D chord you lose the first note which would be the opened D string/note. The “D hand” voicing is actually a “2nd inversion” because the 5th of the note is the lowest note being played, followed by the 1 and the 3. This chord has a very nice sound to it, be sure to check out the examples I show of how to apply this to actually playing in the Post rock type style.









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