(18 Nov 03)
Seventh Chord Inversions
Seventh Chord Inversions: Just as triads can be inverted, so can seventh chords. The 3rd, 5th and 7th can all be used as the bass note. As seventh chords are four note chords, we get the choice of four notes for our bass notes:
Some of the inversions work better than others. While the maj7th chord in first and second inversion sound beautiful, the 3rd inversion (7th in bass) sounds horrible. I couldn't even come up with a decent example for this lesson (give it a shot anyways, you never know). While the 3rd inversion for the maj7 chord sounds pathetic, the 3rd inversion of the dominant 7 chord (b7th in the bass) is somewhat common. Generally the inversions of the maj7 and dominant 7 chords are used more commonly than the inversions of the min7 chords, the min7 chord in first inversion simply turns into a maj6 chord. Ex: Amin7/C = C6. Try out the chord progression below and you'll hear how beautiful and spacious the maj7 chords in 1st and 2nd inversion sound. Oh yeah, I'll explain the Bb/C chord a little later, try not to think about it too much for now:
Creating complex harmony using slash chords - While the first kind of slash chords we worked with were simply inverted triads or 7th chords used to create a desired bass movement, the next type are something all together different. With triads and 7th chords, the bass note (on the right of the slash) is either the 3rd, 5th or 7th of the chord, in the next examples all the bass notes will be the actual roots. Before we start making some harmonically complex chords, let's first make some 7th chords by using the slash chord technique we studied in the previous examples. Examine the following Amin7 chord. If you look carefully you will find that the top three notes form a Cmaj triad. Therefore you can think of an Amin7 chord as a C triad simply placed over an A bass note, that's right: Amin7 = C/A
I moved the bass an octave lower than it is notated so we can hear the actual C triad over the A bass note.
As you discovered in the last example, 7th chords can be thought of as slash chords. I took the diatonic 7th chords of the C major scale and notated them as slash chords. Above the chord is the standard notated 7th chord name, below is the slash chord name:
I wrote the last example just to simply show you that you've been playing slash chords all along and might have never realized it. Before we move on to more complex harmony I need you to learn some simple triad shapes. The shapes are going to get put on top of various bass notes and open up into some pretty heavy chords. Generally major triads get used way more than minor triads for this kind of thing so I'm only going to cover them. Learn the following major triad shapes, roots are in black:
Before we get going on the cool stuff on the next page, make sure you have the previous triads down. Don't worry, this page will be here waiting for you.....