Piano chord inversions are chords played with the notes in a different order.
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.
Here we'll take a closer look at piano chords and their inversions. You'll learn how to play inverted chords and what fingering to use, with free printable piano chord inversions charts (PDF).
Best of all, you will learn how chords are inverted so you wont need charts anymore!
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 set of inversions (1 octave) and then add more octaves as your confidence grows!
Let's take a closer look!
Triads are three note chords. Major and minor triads can by rearranging the notes, be played in three different positions;
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.
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.
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:
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 distance (interval) between each note in a major triad is now; a minor third and a perfect fourth.
In the minor triad it the intervals are a major third and a perfect fourth.
In the second inversion you will use fingers 1-3-5 in the right hand and 5-2-1 in the left hand for all keys in both major and minor. Changing the chord from the 1st to the 2nd inversion is done by again moving the bottom note one octave higher.
The intervals between the notes in a major triad in the 2nd inversion is now a perfect fourth
and a major third:
In minor it is a perfect fourth and a minor third: