• Here’s a way to multiply your chordal vocabulary… OVERNIGHT!

    in Chords & Progressions

    If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve seen several lessons on “inversions.”

    For those of you who don’t know, an inversion is simply a different way to play a chord.

    And here’s a simple rule to remember…

    The number of ways to “invert” a chord is equal to the number of notes in the chord!

    Got that?

    Basically, if the chord has 3 notes, there are 3 different inversions or ways to play that chord.

    If the chord has 4 notes in it, there are 4 inversions for that chord.

    Pretty simple.

    But it doesn’t end there.

    That rule just applies to inversions, not voicings. There are tons more ways to “voice” a 3-tone major chord… not just 3.

    So don’t mix inversions up with voicings. A voicing is a particular representation of a chord.

    Here’s the difference.

    C major

    Since it has 3 notes, you can invert it three different ways:


    First Inversion (has the 3rd degree of the chord on the bottom)

    Second Inversion (has the 5th degree of the chord on the bottom)

    But let’s look at other “voicings” for the chord.

    See… you can double up on notes — you can leave notes out — you can rearrange notes… that’s the difference between inversions and voicings (at least the way I teach it).

    C major
    C on bass (not shown)

    (big sound)

    And if you want to get fancier and turn this regular C major triad into a C major 7, it gives you even more “voicings” to experiment with…

    C on bass (not shown)

    C on bass (not shown)

    As you can see, there’s a lot you can do.

    So remember that just because it’s written a certain way in the “textbooks” doesn’t mean you have to play it that way!

    Until next time —

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    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

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