Finding Inversions 2

This Musicarta web page is the second in a series of pages which will help you find the keyboard chords you need. It coaches you in finding inversions using just the right hand - an essential skill, but always difficult to start with.

You will get more out of this web page if you have worked through Keyboard Chords – Finding Inversions 1, but you will achieve the very best results if you revise the first module now and carry straight on to this page.

Keyboard Chords – Finding Inversions has MIDI support - you can download the MIDI files for this module using this link. The zipped folder of MIDI files is called Inversion Method MIDI 2. Save the folder to your desktop and ‘unzip’ it. Put the unzipped folder in your Musicarta MIDI folder and tidy up. If you are not familiar with zipped folders, the Musicarta MidiPiano download page has full instructions. It’s simple!

You can play the MIDI files on MidiPiano, Musicarta’s recommended virtual keyboard. The number in the right hand table cell under each musical example (e.g. InvMeth_1) tells you which MIDI file to play. MIDI files are tiny – downloading will use next to nothing of your bandwidth.

If you have not already downloaded MidiPiano, DO SO NOW! Downloading is simple and safe and the application is small, FREE and easy to use. Follow the link to the Musicarta MidiPiano download page, which will tell you all you need to know. Take it all the way – today! MidiPiano is a great addition to your learning resources.

You will also need to have saved the free Musicarta Keyboard Chord Generator pdf to your desktop and printed it out. This 'visual glossary' shows the chords used in this module chords using the circle, triangle, square symbols as here.

    First module performance goal

Your first Module performance goal is this right-hand-only series of four inversions, rising and falling.


    Moving between inversions with just one hand

As discussed above, the previous page in this series – Keyboard Chords – Finding Inversions 1 – taught you a very explicit two-handed way of finding inversions by using the left hand to pass either the top or bottom note of the triad up or down an octave to form the next inversion.

Revise the method used.

keyboard chords


You ‘went through the motions’, showing how the moving note jumps an octave to make the next inversion. Next, you go through the motions ‘in your mind’s eye’ only, and play the inversions, straight, with just your right hand.

You will be learning to play this root position to root position, rising and falling pattern.

keyboard chords

There is a ‘method’ to help you achieve the performance with ease, just below.


Here are the chords on a keyboard:

keyboard chords

Try to use the ‘official’ inversion fingering in this exercise:

Revise the fingering: Use 5, 3, 1 except for the first inversion (triangle symbol) chord, which uses finger 2 in the middle.

    The method

This is the easiest way of learning the just-the-right-hand drill::

    1.Play the starting chord and hold the notes down

    Stare at it! Rehearse the octave jump in you mind’s eye. The bottom note is going to jump an octave over the other two notes to the next ‘looks-the-same’ note, which should be flashing at you like a beacon.

    This version of the performance files try to suggest this:

    2. See all three notes of the new inversion – one different, two the same. Be 100% sure you know those next-three-notes perfectly before you jump!

    3. Move your hand to the new inversion and play it.

You repeat the process until you get up to the next root position, then turn around and come back down again. This is your Module goal performance.



If you find yourself guessing, or just getting it wrong, be strict with yourself and go back to the two-hand method temporarily. You can see a combination of the two methods in the MIDI performance file of this music:


Use this ‘one of the old method, one of the new’ technique on any pair of inversions which gives you trouble.

    Using the creeping method

Try this method of making sure you don’t lose track of the notes when you swap inversions. This method is particularly useful if it’s the two-notes-that-stay –the-same that you tend to lose sight of.

When you move up from a root position chord (fingered 1, 3, 5) to a first inversion chord (fingered 1, 2, 5) . . .

  • Your thumb replaces your third finger, and

  • Your second finger replaces your fifth finger.
It is possible to ‘hand the notes over’ to their new fingers without ever letting the two keys come up, as if they were tied notes.

The music would look like this:

keyboard chords

The same principle applies coming down again:

keyboard chords

The hand feels very unusual making this crab-like sideways progress, but narrowing and widening the hand is an essential ingredient of technique.

    Playing inversions of other chords one-handed

You should go on to practice the basic module inversion pattern from any white-key play-one, miss-one, play-one, miss-one, play-one (PMPMP) root position triad. (Avoid the triad built on B.)

keyboard chords


You do not need music – in fact, it is a distinct drawback. The exercise rehearses ‘seeing the chords n the keys’, and written music generally interferes with this.

    Drill One

Here are the performance files of the pattern played from root position, thumb on C, D, E, F, G and A starting around middle C. This gives you C, F and G major chords (C, F, G), and D, E and A minor chords (Dm, Em, Am).

These are all white-key chords – you do not have to use black keys to make the minor chords minor or the major chords, major.

Follow the performance files first, then speed up – add a bass note (the root of the chord), and ‘jazz it up’ any way you can think of.


The other drills in this module are presented as chord sequences. For each letter in the chord sequence, you will play four chords. There are two bars of each chord, so you have time to play your four inversions going up and coming down.

The little arrow when the chord changes shows whether you go ‘up’ the keyboard (to the right), or ‘down’ (to the left) to find the new chord.

These are all white-key chords – you do not have to do anything to make the chords major or minor.

You can hear from the audio performance files how these simple inversion patterns are ‘nearly music’ already.

keyboard chords

Using only two Group Two chords (one black key, B minor and A major - see the Keyboard Chord Generator pdf you have saved), you can play this chord sequence in D.

keyboard chords


Use the circle, square, triangle symbols and the Chord Generator pdf download and/or MidiPiano to find the chord shapes you need to follow this audio performance file:

    Drill Three

Drill Three uses the same rising-and-falling Module inversion pattern. When the chord changes, move to the nearest ‘next chord’.

chord sequence


The audio performance file makes clear what the chord sequence chart says.

Using only two Group Two chords (one black key – B minor and D major), you can play this chord sequence in G

chord sequence


Use the circle, square, triangle symbols and the free Musicarta Chord Generator pdf download and/or MidiPiano to find the chord shapes you need to follow the audio performance file.

    Drill Four

Next, we change chords twice as quickly, playing one chord rising in one bar and the next chord falling in the next:

chord sequence


You can hear from these drills that a simple succession of rising and falling inversions is ‘nearly music’ The syncopated bass line helps. The essential bass note is always the root (the name-notes of the chord - for a C chord, play a C bass).

Learn to copy the syncopated left hand/right hand pattern by tapping along to the performance files on your desktop first before trying to play the notes and the rhythm at the same time at the keyboard. (Always simplify your tasks into ‘components’ like this – hands separately first, just the rhythm, together-left-right or top-middle-bottom analysis etc.)

Dip into the Musicarta ‘Beat and Rhythm’ series in parallel to build up your keyboard rhythms. Often, it is the rhythm which lifts very simple harmonic material into the ‘memorable-and-catchy’ bracket.

Once you can find inversions reasonably easily, you can practice them using broken chord patterns - then your chord work can really move forward. Click up to the Chords section home page using the navbar, left, to see what's available.

Thanks for visiting! Come again soon!

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