Inverted chords

Inverted chord illustrationInverted chords consist of chords in which the notes have changed order and the tonic (the root of the chord) is no longer the bass note. Some get confused when they see a chord written out like C/E . What it means is that the E note has changed position in the chord to become the bass note. The practical meaning of this is that the chord is played inverted. The C chord with the notes C, E and G are instead played in order as E, G and C.

Why make an untidiness like this out of it, you may wonder? The inverted chords are especially common for piano players: changing the order of notes in a chord can minimize the distance of movement over the keyboard then switching from one chord to another. For guitarist's the inverted chord has not this function, but gives possibilities to enrich the sound and make smooth transitions in chord progressions. They are also similar to slash chords.

Common inverted chords

C/E

  • C/E chord diagram

D/F#

  • D/F# chord diagram

E/B

  • E/B chord diagram

F/C

  • F/C chord diagram

G/B

  • G/B chord diagram

A/C#

  • A/C# chord diagram

B/D#

  • B/D# chord diagram

Dm/A

  • Dm/A chord diagram

Em/B

  • Em/B chord diagram

Gm/D

  • Gm/D chord diagram

Chord progressions with inverted chords

This is a couple of sequences that includes inverted chords and gives you a sense of one important application of these chords:


G - D/F# - Em

(Instead of the usual D we are positioning the F# as the bass note between G and E.)


A - A/C# - D

(This time we just switch the bass note of the same chord from A to a C# – that is placed between A and D in the scale – before moving on to D.)

In this third example the movement starts with the inverted chord:

E/B - Am - G

A last sequence:

C - Em/B - Am

You should be able to find other variants now as you know the method.

All inversions of major chords

Diagrams and information of first and second inversions:







All inversions of minor chords

Diagrams and information of first and second inversions:







Inverted 7th chords

C7/G

  • C7/G chord diagram

D7/F#

  • D7/F# chord diagram

E7/B

  • E7/B chord diagram

G7/B

  • G7/B chord diagram

The chords in the four diagrams are all dominant sevenths with alternative bass notes. A chord progression you can try is:


C - G7/B - Am7

Note that the bass note remains at the fifth string throughout the whole sequence (the low E-string shouldn't be played at all).

Inverted Major 7th chords

Cmaj7/G

  • Cmaj7/G chord diagram

Fmaj7/A

  • Fmaj7/A chord diagram

Gmaj7/B

  • Gmaj7/B chord diagram

Bmaj7/F#

  • Bmaj7/F# chord diagram

The chords in the four diagrams are all major sevenths with alternative bass notes. A chord progression you can try is:


F - Fmaj7/E - Dm

Since four notes are involved in the major seventh chords there are three possible inversions for each.

Inverted Minor 7th chords

Dm7/A

  • Dm7/A chord diagram

Em7/B

  • Em/B chord diagram

Am7/G

  • Am7/G chord diagram

Bm7/D

  • Bm7/D chord diagram

The chords in the four diagrams are all minor sevenths with alternative bass notes. A chord progression you can try is:


Cmaj7 - Em7/B - Am7

Since four notes are involved in the minor seventh chords there are three possible inversions for each.

More inverted chords

Also 9th and 6th chord can be played with an alternate bass note. One example is: D9/F#: 200210

To notice is that the third inversion of the 6th chord will copy the relative minor 7th chord. For example C6/A and D6/B are identical with Am7 and Bm7 respectively.

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