› Piano Chord Inversions

Piano Chord Inversions

Learn how to play all piano chord inversions in major and minor. If you are a visual learner this is for you: Print free PDF charts and learn to use the correct fingers. Practice to play the chords both "broken" and "blocked".

Piano Chord Inversions for Beginners

When studying piano technique, it is important to learn how to play the basic musical patterns that you'll find in most piano repertoire. These basic patterns are scales, chords and arpeggios.

Playing Piano Chords

By learning to use the correct fingers and how to play all the patterns in all keys, you will master more difficult music easier and with less effort.

The good news are that all chords share the same fingering in all keys for each chord inversion!

All chords should be practiced both "blocked" (all notes played simultaneously), and "broken" (one note at a time from bottom up). You can start with one octave and then add more octaves as your confidence grows!

Arpeggios, is another technique in piano playing where the chord is played broken over several octaves.

Let's take a closer look!

Major and Minor Piano Chord Inversions (Triads)

Triads are three note chords.

Major and minor triads can by rearranging the notes be played in three different positions;

  1. root
  2. 1st inversion and
  3. 2nd inversion.

Print your free Major and Minor Piano Chord Inversions Charts here (PDF).

Root Position

In root position you will use fingers 1-3-5 in the right hand and 5-3-1 in the left hand for all keys in both major and minor.

Major

A major triad in root (basic) position has the notes spaced a third apart. The bottom third is a major third (2 whole steps apart) and the top third is a minor third (1 1/2 whole steps apart).

The lowest note, the "root", gives the name to the triad/chord. For example; this is a C major triad or chord:

You can play a triad starting from any key on the piano of course. Just count 2 whole steps (or 4 half steps) from your starting note (counting as 1) up to the next, and then 1 1/2 whole steps (or 3 half steps) up to the last note.

Minor

A minor triad has the notes spaced "the other way"; The bottom third is a minor third and the top third is a major third:

1st Inversion

In the first inversion you will use fingers 1-2-5 in the right hand and 5-3-1 in the left hand for all keys in both major and minor.

Major

A major or minor triad in 1st inversion is simply re-arranged so that the root (in this case C) has been moved one octave higher:

The distance (interval) between each note in a minor triad is now; a minor third and a perfect fourth.

Minor

In the minor triad it the intervals are a major third and a perfect fourth.

2nd Inversion

In the first inversion you will use fingers 1-3-5 in the right hand and 5-3-1 in the left hand for all keys in both major and minor.

Changing the chord from 1st to 2nd inversion is done by again moving the bottom note one octave higher.

Major

The intervals between the notes in a major triad in the second inversion is now a perfect fourth and a major third:

In minor it is a perfect fourth and a minor third:

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