Teach Yourself Music Theory – 30.) Inverting Triads

Previously, we have talked about triads. To remind ourselves:

A triad is a chord built on three different pitches where each of the pitches from lowest to highest are a musical interval of a third apart.

On any staff, a triad can be written with all the pitches being on a line, or all being on a space.

Now, we are going to talk about inversions, which is similar to when we invert a harmonic interval – we take the lowest pitch and raise it up an octave so that a different chord member becomes the lowest pitch.

NOTE: the new lowest pitch does not become the root.

Likewise, you can invert in a reverse process where you take the highest note in the triad and lower it down an octave.


When the third is in the bass (lowest position), we say that the triad is in first inversion. As for when the fifty is in the bass, we say that the triad is in second inversion. We will take soon on how to indicate with other forms of notation about writing inversions.

Try writing a variety of triads in their possible inversions. Play them, too!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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