Harmony in 21 Lessons




by Cheryl Macomber
Glenda Macomber

Pastor Clinton Macomber
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Lesson 12—Inversion of the Triads

When C is the lowest note of the C chord, the chord is represented by the figure (five over three):

C chord

When E is the lowest note, the chord is represented by the figure (six over three):

C chord with e as lowest note

When G is the lowest note, the chord is represented by the figures (six over a four):

c chord with g as the lowest note

To simplify the writing of the figures, composers have developed a short-hand for the chords (figured bass):

beam with five over three

is simply written

beam with no numbers

beam with a subscript of six over three

is simply written

beam with a subscript of six

beam with subscript of a six over 4

remains

beam with a subscript of six over four

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.

Fundamental forms of chords

Direct or Fundamental Forms

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.

first exercise of identifying inversions

Exercise 1

Below is a chart showing the inversions of the C chord and their positions. The numbers below the chords label the inverted chords.

c chord inversions

C Chord Inversions

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.

We must be very careful when writing

       

the 3rd or 5th in the bass.

An inverted chord is a chord which has either

 

inverted chords.

1st Inversion means

 

may be done very rarely.

2nd Inversion means

 

very useful.

Doubling the third of a chord

 

the 3rd is in the bass.

To make a melodic line smooth we may use

 

the 5th is in the bass.

Second Inversion is

 

1st inversion.

The accented beat of a measure may use

 

2nd inversion.

Complete the following melody using the following chords.

Available Chords

Inversion chords for exercise 3

chords for exercise 3 four more chords for exercise 3

Exercise 3

exercise three

Answer Instructions

Click on the following "Answers" tab when you are ready to see the answers.

Answers to Exercise 2

Exercise 2

We must be very careful when writing / inverted chords.

An inverted chord is a chord which has either / the 3rd or 5th in the bass.

1st Inversion means / the 3rd is in the bass.

2nd Inversion means / the 5th is in the bass.

Doubling the third of a chord / may be done very rarely.

To make a melodic line smooth we may use 1st inversion.

Second inversion is / very useful.

The accented beat of a measure may use / 2nd inversion.

Answers to Exercise 3

Exercise 3

answers for exercise 3