chord inversions : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

Question: I bought a chord book to explain how to arrive at all of the various chords. Over 90% of the chords in this book, and like other ones I've seen, show inversioned chords, and not the root position. My teacher says always play a chord in the root position unless otherwise noted in the music- (e.g = Bb7/F). In the beginning of the chord book, it does state that the chords are pictured to fit into a specific note span. Why would it be printed that way, when that's not how you would normally play a chord? Isn't the reason that people buy these books because they don't know how to play the chord, and now the book teaches them incorrectly? Can someone clarify this for me?

-- joan (, July 04, 2001


Hmmm...I don't think any of the books or charts I've seen show chords only in inversions. Sometimes I've seen root *plus* inversions. I can't guess why they would only show inversions, as I think seeing them in root first helps them to "make sense" to our brain. If I get a chance later I'll search for some of the online sites I've come across that have chord charts, or I'll look through some of my books. Or here's an idea if you want to put a little time into it: write out your own on staff paper. Then you can have the chords arranged however you like, and the actual writing out of the chords will really help reinforce what the notes are. But regarding your teacher saying that chords should always be played in root position unless notated otherwise--most music doesn't have it notated by chord at all, and songs would sound rather dull if you always play in root position. Certainly don't play everything as a close "1-3-5" root position chord. Spread the notes out, ie play a C chord as a C-G-C for a fuller sound. You'll notice that third intervals don't sound nice at all low on the keyboard, so these "octave-stretch" chords solve that problem. And a variety of inversions makes any arrangment more interesting. Are you trying to play from fake books, or just improvise from written music, or what?

-- annie (, July 07, 2001.

Thanks, Annie i don't use the book at all. I already break up 7,9,11 and 13 chords, and play them partially w/the left and partially with the right to arrive at the chord. For example, a Cm7 chord could be played with a C and a Bb with the left hand, and an Eb, Bb and Eb with the right.. anyways, so on and so on. There are many different ways to play a chord. It really depends on what's before it what's after it what notes are there in th melody, and it's just too variable. i think the best way to learn is at least by getting a handle on the root positions first, inversions next. The useless chord book (published by Alfred) does not show root positions, just inversions. my question still is, why is it written like this? I should give this book away, but wouldn't want to screw anybody up.. The music that i'm playing, (fake books and regular stuff) has the chords written on top. I am just now learning improv. Thanks for listening.


-- joan (, July 09, 2001.

Joan, your voicing of the Cm7 chord lacks the fifth, a G.

-- Kyle Johnson (, September 17, 2001.

I highly recommend Alfred's "The Complete Book of Scales, Chords, Arpeggios & Cadences". It is clearly written and includes all major, minor and chromatic scales plus fingering charts and scale enhancement exercises. Additionally, they provide detailed sale charts on all notes, triads in all 3 positions (root, 1st and 2nd inversions).

What you are propably seeing in your current book are chord progressions or cadences for smoother and easier chord transitions. Chord progressions are common to most music. Attempting to jump across the keyboard to play all chords in their root position is not only more difficult but, more importantly, it does not sound as good.

The Complete Book of Scales gives a somewhat in depth prospective on chords and why you would use a progression versus using the primary chords in their root position.

-- Juanita (, October 15, 2001.

A friendly user workbook in introducing harmony by Dulcie Holland, an Australian Music Educator may be of interest to you all.

-- June Ryan (, April 03, 2003.

Get a Music Theory Book. Don't use the chord method books. Plain and Simple.

-- Donnie Robinson (, May 07, 2003.

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