KEYBOARD CHORDS

Finding Inversions 3

Finding the keyboard chords you need quickly takes practice. The Musicarta Keyboard Chords - Finding Inversions series offers some tried and tested methods that will definitely help. With easy-to-follow instructions, learners of any age and stage can learn and practice them, and teachers can use them with their pupils.

This Musicarta module has MIDI support. You can download the MIDI files for it using this link.

The zipped folder of MIDI files is called Inversion Method MIDI 3. 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, e.g. InvMeth_1, in the right hand table cell under each musical example 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. Use the MIDI PIANO tab on the navbar, left or follow the link to go 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'll soon get used to using it and come to find it invaluable.


Here’s a great exercise which will really make your brain work at understanding inversions. Thirty minutes spent on this exercise is worth weeks of purely mechanical practice. Work at this exercise at least until you understand it in principle - then take a break, and use it as necessary to really get a handle on confusing chords.

    Three Chord Tones in Three Places

There are three chord tones – the root, third and fifth of a major or minor scale.

The chord they make can appear in three different inversions - one of which is called the root position.

Therefore, each chord tone could be the bottom, middle or top note of a triad, and practicing demonstrating this builds a very solid understanding of inversions.

    The exercise

Here are the chord tones of C major shown on a keyboard and marked R (root), 3 (third) and 5 (fifth). Match the performance in the audio file using both hands and any fingers to find the notes.

The ideal thing would be to say out loud whether the note is the root, third or fifth as you play it, but failing that, make a real effort to know internally which chord tone you are playing.

InvMeth_3001

    The Root (R) as the non-moving tone

You are going to play the root (R) as the bottom, middle and top note of a triad.

InvMeth_3002

Have a look at the illustration, then copy the audio file.

You see that there are two styles of numbering on the keyboard diagram. One sort (numbers 3 and 5) is aligned with the letter 'R' (the root of the chord). These numbers denote the chord tones - the third and the fifth.

The other (single) number is a bold italic number, the style usually used in printed music for the fingering. Use the finger shown on the root (R) and find the other two chord tones.

    The Third (3) as the non-moving tone

Next, play the third (3) as the bottom, middle and top note of a triad. The key with the fingering number is the note you play first, every time. Follow the audio file.

InvMeth_3003

    The Fifth (5) as the non-moving tone

Then play the fifth as the bottom, middle and then top note of three inversions. Use the fingering given and follow the audio file for guidance.

InvMeth_3004

    Build up speed and fluency

Go back to the first group of three chords, focusing on the root. Copy the next audio file – it cycles through the three positions, both up and down, in rhythm.

Practice until you can keep up with the audio performance file below the diagram.

InvMeth_3005

Do the same with the second group of chords, focusing on the third.

InvMeth_3006

Do the same with the third group of chords, focusing on the fifth.

InvMeth_3007

To finish musically, repeat the first group of chords at the octave.

InvMeth_3008

That completes the exercise.

    Some practice tips

Build up your speed by slowing the performance files down until you can keep up (both Windows Media Player and the MidiPiano application offer this possibility), then gradually increasing the speed as you become more practiced.

Try stitching the four 'positions' (above) together and playing them continuously. Add a rhythmic, one-note (or octave) left hand to drive the exercise along, or, if you have an electronic keyboard, find a backing track on it you can use to keep you going. like this:

InvMeth_3009

Once you are sure of the notes, work on making sure you are using the 'official' fingering for the inversions - 1, 3, and 5 for the root position (circle symbol) and second inversion (square) chords, and 1, 2, 5 for the first inversion (triangle) chord.

(The 1, 2, 5 fingering for the first inversion chord keeps the back of the hand flat, while using 1, 3, 5 for this chord tips it over to the little finger side. That's why you should work hard on getting it right.)

Whenever you are learning a new chord from the Musicarta Keyboard Chord Generator, use this exercise and you will soon know your chord very well.

A pdf file of the written-out music for the complete exercise is available here, but playing without the music and concentrating on 'seeing the chords in the keyboard' will do you much more good in the long run!


This is the end of the Musicarta Keyboard Chords - Finding Inversions 3 module. Click back up to the Musicarta 'Chords Division' home page for more chord-practice inspiration.

Once you can find the inversions with confidence, you would naturally progress to playing broken chord patterns. Click through to the first Musicarta Keyboard Chords - Broken Chord Patterns page here, and start getting famiiiar with these 'ready-made riffs'.

Thanks for visiting Musicarta.come! Come again soon!


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