Piano Chord Inversions in Major and Minor with FREE Printable Charts

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What are chord inversions for piano? Piano chord inversions are chords played with the notes in a different order.

When studying piano technique, it is important to study and learn the basic musical patterns which you'll find in almost all piano repertoire. These basic patterns are scales, chords, and arpeggios. Here we'll take a closer look at piano chords and their inversions.

In this piano lesson, you'll learn the best way to learn piano chord inversions. You'll understand how to play inverted chords and what fingering to use, with my free printable piano chord inversions charts (PDF). 

Best of all, in this lesson you will learn exactly how chords are inverted, which means that you won't need the charts anymore! :)

Piano Chord Inversions for Beginners

By learning to use the correct fingers and play the chord patterns in all 12 keys, you will master more difficult music easier and with less effort.

Check out my recommendation for a book that's handy when learning chords here.

The good news is that all chords share the same fingering in all keys for each chord inversion! All chords should be practiced "blocked" (all notes played simultaneously) and "broken" (one note at a time from the bottom-up).

You can start with one set of inversions (1 octave) and then add more octaves as your confidence grows!

Let's take a closer look!

Learn about inversions of piano chords.D Minor Chord in 2nd Inversion

How Many Inversions Does a Chord Have?

Lets start with the most basic chord: a Triad. Triads are 3-note chords. Since they have 3 notes, major and minor triads can (by rearranging the notes), be played in 3 different positions. They are the 

  1. Root position
  2. 1st inversion and
  3. 2nd inversion.
Inverted triads.

Root Position

In the root position, you should 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. (Even when playing on black keys!) You can print my piano chords chart with chords in root position only, here.

The Major Triad

A major triad in root (the 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:

C major triad.C Major Triad Root Position

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. The 2 intervals that build a major triad is: A major third (c-e), and a minor third (e-g).

The Minor Triad

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:

C minor triad.C Minor Triad Root Position

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. A major or minor triad in 1st inversion is simply re-arranged so that the root has been moved one octave higher.

The Major Triad in 1st Inversion

As you take a closer look you'll wee that the distance (interval) between each note in a major triad is now a minor third (e-g) and a perfect fourth (g-c).

C major Triad 1st Inversion.C Major Triad 1st Inversion

The Minor Triad in 1st Inversion

In the minor triad, the intervals are instead a major third (eb-g) and a perfect fourth (g-c).

C minor Triad 1st Inversion.C Minor Triad 1st Inversion

2nd Inversion

In the second inversion, you will use fingers 1-3-5 in the right hand and 5-2-1 in the left hand. This you will use for all keys in both major and minor. Changing the chord from the 1st to the 2nd inversion is done by moving the bottom note one octave higher.

The Major Triad in 2nd Inversion

The intervals between the notes in a major triad in the 2nd inversion is a perfect fourth (g-c) and a major third (c-e):

C major Triad 2nd Inversion.C Major Triad 2nd Inversion

The Minor Triad in 2nd Inversion

In minor it is a perfect fourth (g-c) and a minor third (c-eb):

C minor Triad 2nd Inversion.C Minor Triad 2nd Inversion

Printable Free Piano Chord Inversions Charts in all 12 Major and Minor Keys, with Fingering Tips.

Are you a visual learner? Then you'll like this! Here you can print 4 pages of free PDF chord inversion charts in all 12 major and minor keys. You'll also learn to use the correct fingers for each chord and inversion. Make sure to practice playing the chords both "broken" and "blocked", and all over the piano!

Print your free Major and Minor Piano Chord Inversions Charts here (PDF) 4 pgs. 

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Major Piano Chord Inversions Chart.

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