Lesson 12—Inversion of the Triads
When C is the lowest note of the C chord, the chord is represented by the figure ():
When E is the lowest note, the chord is represented by the figure ():
When G is the lowest note, the chord is represented by the figures ():
To simplify the writing of the figures, composers have developed a short-hand for the chords (figured bass):
In learning to write for four parts, we have studied chords in their different positions. We have always kept the fundamental note in the bass—or as the lowest note.
Example: In the key of C the fundamental note is C. When C is retained in the bass, the chord is in the Direct or Fundamental Form.
Now we will study inverted chords for four part writing. We will use the key of C to illustrate these inversions. The fundamental form places C in the bass leaving only 2 other notes (E and G) to deal with in the chord. When E is placed in the bass, the chord is called the first inversion. When G is placed in the bass, the chord is called the second inversion. Label the following chords as 1st Inversion, 2nd Inversion or Fundamental.
Below is a chart showing the inversions of the C chord and their positions. The numbers below the chords label the inverted chords.
We must be very careful when arranging inverted chords in four part music.
Double the fundamental note as much as is practical. The fifth may also be doubled, but the third may be doubled only on rare occasions.
The first inversion may be used where it will give a better melodic flow to the bass.
The second inversion is a very useful chord. It is best and safest to use this chord on the accented beat of a measure.
Finish the sentences at the left by matching them to the correct answer on the right.
Complete the following melody using the following chords.