• Here’s How Experienced Players Determine First Inversion Triads In A Second Or Less!

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Piano

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    In today’s lesson, you’ll be learning how to determine first inversion triads at a glance.

    Statistics has it that over 96% of pianists at the beginners’ level find it very difficult to recognize a chord when it’s inverted.

    “Here’s A Quick Test…”

    What’s the name of the triad below:

    If you aren’t able to recognize the chord above and name it, then this lesson is for you.

    I guarantee you that if you invest the next 14 minutes in this lesson, you’ll learn how to determine first inversion triads in a second or less.

    A Quick Review On Triads

    A triad is a collection of three related notes (agreeable or not), that are played or heard together. From the definition of a triad, a triad is a chord of three notes.

    Let’s present and explain in details some of the important keywords in the definition of a chord:

    • Three
    • Related notes
    • Together

    “…Three…”

    Tri, which is the first syllable in the word triad, is synonymous with the number three. A triad consists of three notes, not more or less.

    Submission: It’s possible for a triad to have four notes. Hence, the term four note triads.

    “…Related Notes…”

    A collection of three notes can only be considered as a triad if the notes are related in two ways:

    The C major triad:

    …which is arguably the most popular triad on the keyboard, consists of C, E,and G, which are the first, third and fifth tones of the C major scale:

    …and that’s clearly a scale relationship. In addition to that, the chord tones of the C major triad are related by third intervals. This creates what music scholars call tertian harmony.

    From C to E:

    …is a third interval.

    From E to G:

    …is also a third interval.

    “…Together…”

    The word chord is derived from accord – an old English word that means together. The notes of a chord are designed to be played together (in accord).

    In a previous lesson, we learned that the relationship between notes that are heard together is called harmony. Therefore, a chord can be said to be harmonic.

    Having covered the keywords, let’s end this review by looking at the components of a triad and various triad qualities.

    The Components Of A Triad

    A triad when played in root position, consists of three components – a root, third and fifth tone.

    The root of a triad is the note upon which a triad is founded on and the name of the triad is derived from the root of the triad.

    The third of a given triad determines its quality and this depends on the distance (aka – “interval”) between the root and the third.

    The fifth tone is where a triad derives its stability. Stable triads have a fifth tone that is a perfect fifth above their root while unstable triads have a fifth tone that is either a diminished fifth or an augmented fifth above their root.

    A Short Note On Triad Qualities

    There are four triad qualities:

    …which have been branded The Fantastic Four by Jermaine Griggs our founder and president.

    “Here Are The Fantastic Four Founded On The Root Note C…”

    C major triad:

    C minor triad:

    C diminished triad:

    C augmented triad:

    A Short Note On The Inversion Of Triads

    There are two perspectives to the inversion of chords – the chorale style which focuses on the change of bass notes, and the keyboard style which focuses on the rearrangement of chord tones via the octave transposition technique.

    Attention: In this lesson, the use of the term inversion is limited to the keyboard style.

    Using the C major triad:

    …as a reference, the octave transposition of this C:

    …to its octave:

    …produces the first inversion of the C major triad:

    Following the same procedure, the octave transposition of this E:

    …(in the first inversion of the C major triad):

    …to its octave:

    …produces the second inversion of the C major triad:

    “In A Nutshell…”

    Apart from the root position of a triad, there are two other ways it can be played – in its first and second inversion, and then by using the octave transposition technique, any triad can be inverted.

    How To Determine First Inversion Triads

    Classical music scholars have their unique way of representing first inversion triads, and that’s what I’ll be showing you in this segment.

    “Your Rapt Attention Is Required…”

    Using the first inversion of the C major triad:

    …as a reference, let’s breakdown first inversion triads.

    In the C major triad (first inversion):

    …the interval from E to C:

    …is a sixth, while the interval from E to G:

    …is a third. In first inversion triads, the interval between the root and other chord tones are a sixth and third. Consequently, first inversion triads are represented (by music scholars) as chord six-three and all first inversion triads belong to this class.

    Attention: Beyond the representation of first inversion chords as six-three, it is important to also note that the highest sounding note in a first inversion chord is its root.

    “Here’s An Example…”

    The chord below:

    …is a six-three chord because from F to D:

    …is a sixth:

    …and from F to A:

    …is a third.

    Due to the fact that the chord given is a six-three chord, its highest sounding note (which is D):

    …is its root.

    Altogether, having determined the root of the chord (as D) and its inversion (as a first inversion chord), we’re just a hair’s breadth away from decoding the given chord as the first inversion of the D minor triad.

    Inverting a D minor triad:

    …by the octave transposition of D:

    …to D:

    …produces the first inversion of the D minor triad:

    …which is the given triad.

    How To Spot First Inversion Triads Instantly

    Anyone who knows the figuration of the first inversion chord (which is six-three) can be able to identify it at first sight.

    “Here Are Some Drills For You…”

    Drill #1

    In the chord below:

    …the interval between Ab and F:

    …is a sixth, while the interval between Ab and Db:

    …is a fourth. Therefore, the chord given:

    …is NOT a first inversion triad.

    Drill #2

    In the chord below:

    …the interval between D and Bb:

    …is a sixth, while the interval between D and F:

    …is a third. Therefore, the chord given:

    …is a first inversion triad. Due to the fact that the highest sounding note is Bb:

    …we can consider it as a Bb (major) chord.

    Drill #3

    In the chord below:

    …the interval between E and B:

    …is a fifth, while the interval between E and G:

    …is a third. Therefore, the chord given:

    …is NOT a first inversion triad.

    Final Words

    Congratulations!!!

    You made it to the end of this lesson and I’m so certain that you can determine first inversion chords on the spot with effortless ease.

    I’ll see you in another lesson where we’ll be dealing with second inversion triads.

    All the best and keep on practicing!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Bonnie Love Steinmetz

    Once again your teaching just blows me away! How can this be so simple to understand when for years others have complicated it to the point of total confusion! I can’t praise you enough for your valued techniques and simplified instruction. God is sure to bless all of you for your commitment and service. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Sincerely, Bonnie S.

    Reply

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