I'm a composer / artist however, I'm not a pianist. So switching between chords was a bit of a challenge for me until I learned this really cool hack!
This piano hack is called “inversions”! It has changed my life as a composer.
So what is an inversion?
Chord inversions refer to the rearrangement of the notes within a chord where the root note is no longer on the bottom. Here's an example using the chord “C Major”
Notice the C Major chord in root position starts with C on the bottom, followed by E, followed by G. In the Inversion you will notice this C Major chord starts with E on the bottom, followed by G, followed by C. This is called first inversion. First inversion always moves the root not from the bottom to the top of the chord.
The 2nd inversion does the same by moving the new bottom note "E" (also referred to as the 3rd note of the chord) to the top of the chord resulting in the 2nd inversion starting with G, followed by C, followed by E.
This inversion looks like this:
The Significance of Chord Inversions:
Chord inversions offer several benefits when it comes to creating chord progressions:
1. Smoother Voice Leading: Chord inversions allows smooth voice leading, minimizing the distance between individual notes when transitioning from one chord to another. This fluidity creates a pleasing and seamless musical flow.
2. Enhanced Harmonic Interest: By rearranging the notes within a chord, inversions introduce new and intriguing harmonic possibilities. They allow you to explore different voicings, harmonies, and tensions, adding complexity and richness to your compositions.
3. Bass Line Development: Chord inversions provide an excellent opportunity to create compelling bass lines. By selecting inversions with descending or ascending bass notes, you can construct bass lines that move melodically and complement the overall chord progression.
Incorporating Chord inversions in Chord Progressions.
Now, let's explore some practical ways to use chord inversions to achieve smooth chord progressions:
1. Smooth Voice Leading: When transitioning from one chord to another, aim to move individual voices (notes) as little as possible. This means selecting inversions that share common tones with the previous chord, allowing for smooth and connected movement between chords. I've created a Youtube video that shows you step by step how to do this here :
2. Pedal Tones: Pedal tones, also known as drone tones, provide a stable foundation while other voices move around them. By using pedal tones in the bass and transitioning to different chord inversions above, you can create captivating tension and release within your progressions.
3. Cascading Chord Progressions: Experiment with cascading progressions by descending or ascending through different inversions of a particular chord. For example, start with a C major chord in root position, then transition to the first inversion (E in the bass), followed by the second inversion (G in the bass). This creates a flowing and cascading effect.
4. Secondary Dominants: Utilize chord inversions to incorporate secondary dominants into your progressions. By inverting the dominant chord, you can add interesting tension and resolve it smoothly to the target chord, enhancing the overall harmonic movement.
5. Chord Embellishments: Chord inversions also offer an opportunity to embellish your chords. Add extensions (such as sevenths or ninths) or experiment with tensions (such as sus2 or sus4) within the inversions, enhancing the color and texture of your progressions.
I've created a cheat sheet with some of the most popular chord progressions in the most popular keys already converted for you:
You can access it here https://janaeemusic.com/product/903823
Chord inversions are a powerful tool in a musician's toolkit, enabling smooth and captivating chord progressions. By understanding their significance and applying them creatively, you can unlock a world of harmonic possibilities. Experiment with different inversions, explore smooth voice leading, and let your chord progressions flow effortlessly
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