Chord Recognition: Triad Inversions
Practice recognising all the inversions of major, minor, diminished, and augmented chords.
After completing this module: you will be able to reliably recognise the four types of triad chord in all their different inversions.
This module has a sequence of lessons with which you will gradually learn to recognise the three inversions of triad chords. Because every musician learns differently and so you should feel free to adjust the lesson order based on your progress learning the chords.
- Major Triad Inversions
- Minor Triad Inversions
- Augmented and Diminished Triad Inversions
- Major and Minor Triads (inversions)
- Major and Augmented Triads (inversions)
- Minor and Diminished Triads (inversions)
- All Triads (inversions)
How It Works
Each type of three-note chord can come in different forms, based on which of the three notes is at the bottom of the chord:
- First inversion
- Second inversion
We recommend practising with just the “root position” form of the chords with the Chord Recognition: Triads module until you can reliably recognise those before tackling the various inversions.
This module lets you practice the four types of triad chord in each inversion and also in combinations of them.
In each lesson you’ll find some information about the types of chord you’re learning, then some training tracks, some testing tracks, and a set of quizzes.
Step 1: Train
Use the “Training” tracks to listen carefully to each chord inversion and tune your ear in to the different sounds.
Each time a chord is played, it is then announced so you know which types of chord you’re hearing.
Step 2: Test
Once you think you’re getting a sense of each inversion’s sound, listen to the corresponding “Test” tracks, which include a short pause after each chord.
During the pause, try to identify the chord type and inversion you just heard.
You’ll hear the correct answer so you know if you got it right and have the chance to hear the chord again.
Step 3: Quiz
If you’re getting the answers right while listening to the “Testing” tracks, it’s time to check your abilities by taking the corresponding quiz.
Example Lesson: Major Triad Inversions
Let’s start by learning to recognise the different inversions of a Major Triad.
Triads are made up of three pitches from the scale: the root, third and fifth. It is possible for any of these to be the lowest note. A triad, therefore, has three possible positions, or “inversions”: root position, first inversion and second inversion, with the root, third, or fifth respectively, as the lowest note:
Root position, first inversion and second inversion of a C Major triad.
One useful way to hear the difference between the inversions is to listen out for the intervals which make up the triad, which change in each case.
You are already familiar with the “root” position triad, which has intervals of a 3rd between its bottom and middle note and its middle and top note. It has a 5th between its bottom and top notes.
The root position major triad has a Major 3rd interval between its bottom and middle note and a Minor 3rd interval between its middle and top note. It has a Perfect 5th between its bottom and top notes.
A first inversion triad has a 3rd between the bottom and middle note and a 4th between the middle and top note. It has a 6th between the lowest and highest note.
A first inversion major triad has a Minor 3rd between its bottom and middle note and a Perfect 4th between its middle and top note. It has a Minor 6th between its bottom and top notes.
Compare the intervals of a root position and first inversion major triad:
A second inversion triad has a 4th between the bottom and middle note and a 3rd between the middle and top note. It has a 6th between the lowest and highest note.
A second inversion major triad has a Perfect 4th between its bottom and middle note and a Major 3rd between its middle and top note. It has a Major 6th between its bottom and top notes.
Here are the intervals of a second inversion major triad:
Give it a try!