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#2454827 - 08/29/15 02:05 PM Do you challenge yourself with inversions to improve musc...
Visalia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/14
Posts: 86
Do you challenge yourself with what inversions you play to improve your overall muscular memory on the instrument?

Let's say you were on an F chord for example and you had to go to an E min. Would you choose the expected way to move to the chord - by moving the root note down a semi-tone to get your E min. Or would move up to the first inversion, or even the 2nd inversion? My guess is that pianists often might end up playing nearly all the chords of a song in the same inversion.

Even though one might be well capable of moving up to the 2nd inversion Em, it's unlikely he/she would consider doing this, and would have his/her mind would be elsewhere.

It's not possible to really know all the notes in each chord off the top your head. So if for example I'm at an F chord, and about to move up to a Cmin 2nd inv(and if I've my eyes closed), I mightn't even be aware that the highest note I'm already holding would be a C. If I was, it would make moving to the Cmin 2nd inv a lot easier.

So would it be best to get familiar with the notes of the chords, as well as trying to improve my muscular memory?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERWK74v0YGE


Edited by Visalia (08/29/15 06:19 PM)

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#2454881 - 08/29/15 05:40 PM Re: Do you challenge yourself with inversions to improve muscula [Re: Visalia]
Hidden son of Teddy Wilson Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/09
Posts: 125
Originally Posted By Visalia

It's not possible to really know all the notes in each chord off the top your head.


Yes it absolutely is, if you keep at it long enough.
I guarantee you will end up being able to play any inversion of any chord, without even thinking about it - if you're patient enough.

You just have to identify which chords you're not yet comfortable with (problem chords) and work on those. After a few weeks or months, the number of problem chords will go down and down

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#2454890 - 08/29/15 06:09 PM Re: Do you challenge yourself with inversions to improve muscula [Re: Visalia]
jotur Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 6032
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
For keys I play in often, yes, I can use any inversion I want. And since those keys overlap it gives me a pretty wide array of chords I can use inversions on. I often see the notes of a chord in my head and it's easy to invert them.

In less often used keys - F#minor for instance - I more often have to find them before hand. Then I go up and down the keyboard in consecutive inversions to get a little more familiar before I start playing.
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#2454931 - 08/29/15 09:25 PM Re: Do you challenge yourself with inversions to improve musc... [Re: Visalia]
Nahum Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/27/14
Posts: 817
Loc: Israel
Originally Posted By Visalia


Even though one might be well capable of moving up to the 2nd inversion Em, it's unlikely he/she would consider doing this, and would have his/her mind would be elsewhere.

You write about beginners pianists? Chord Inversions are not only different order of notes, but also other timbres as well as other sopranos ,which has the connotation of a simple counterpoint.For example, the 1-st inversion is the most dissonant ; the 2-nd has the most widespread full sound.

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#2454950 - 08/29/15 10:46 PM Re: Do you challenge yourself with inversions to improve musc... [Re: Visalia]
Groove On Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/20/15
Posts: 250
Originally Posted By Visalia
Do you challenge yourself with what inversions you play to improve your overall muscular memory on the instrument?

I know it seems daunting at first to internalize inversions, but with practice and some "chunking" of the information, you can slowly whittle down that mountain.

My teacher's best advice was to "Stop thinking of chords as the root inversion". Instead, see the chord as a pattern repeating across the keyboard. Once the overall pattern is set in your mind, practice it as an arpeggio. It starts to make a whole lot more sense when you "chunk" it this way. Eventually, you stop seeing "inversions" and start to see the chord patterns which can be played in any order.
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#2455034 - 08/30/15 07:38 AM Re: Do you challenge yourself with inversions to improve musc... [Re: Visalia]
AndrewJCW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/10/14
Posts: 175
Loc: Middle of nowhere, Australia
In my experience you do get a handle of them pretty quick with some focused work. Pick a chord progression and play it through all 12 keys. Then do so focusing on small section of the keyboard so you have to voice it smoothly.

It's not so much memorising all chords, it's about just getting really familiar with them, and then you can construct them super quick when needed. I guess that is memorising, but it's more about your fingers knowing than your brain knowing if that makes sense.

Wait till you're doing chord extensions and substitutions. You don't want to be sitting down with flashcards every day memorising it, just have a good understanding of how to construct them and lots of practise using them and before long you'll comfortably be able to play any chords.

You definitely want to break out of playing everything first inversion, and only in 'easy' keys as quick as possible. It's very limiting.
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#2455178 - 08/30/15 04:58 PM Re: Do you challenge yourself with inversions to improve musc... [Re: Visalia]
mc9320 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/11
Posts: 87
Loc: London, UK
I find I don't really think about inversions when I play. I can just as easily play an F chord as F-A-C as C-F-A but I've always learnt that way. And I teach this way too. I make sure my students don't just play root position triads all the time.

After all knowing inversions makes the piano easier to play, whether it's solo piano or playing in a band.

So yes, it's definitely possible.

But if you haven't done much it already. Play some chord progressions and look for the smoothest way of changing between them, thereby forcing yourself to use inversions.

Eventually it'll start to click and you'll start to the see the different shapes.
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#2455180 - 08/30/15 05:04 PM Re: Do you challenge yourself with inversions to improve musc... [Re: Nahum]
Visalia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/14
Posts: 86
Originally Posted By Nahum
You write about beginners pianists? Chord Inversions are not only different order of notes, but also other timbres as well as other sopranos ,which has the connotation of a simple counterpoint.For example, the 1-st inversion is the most dissonant ; the 2-nd has the most widespread full sound.
Is that unnecessary waffle??

And you cannot get different timbres on the piano (like guitar). There is only one position for each frequency


Edited by Visalia (08/30/15 05:04 PM)

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#2455183 - 08/30/15 05:13 PM Re: Do you challenge yourself with inversions to improve musc... [Re: mc9320]
Visalia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/14
Posts: 86
But there's the question of, should I be able to do all this with my left hand too? I'm not too concerned (for now) about holding chords with my LH. But the muscular memory of my left hand is no way near as good as with my right.

I think from now on, when I practice melodies by hear, I might try it with my left hand. My right hand only needs improving with chords; but as regards playing lead melody lines - my RH doesn't need improving.


Edited by Visalia (08/30/15 05:15 PM)

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#2455237 - 08/30/15 08:33 PM Re: Do you challenge yourself with inversions to improve musc... [Re: Visalia]
jjo Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 698
Loc: Chicago
Visalia: If your intent is to play solo piano, you will mostly be playing chords in your left hand. If you want to play with others, you'll need to learn to comp (play chords) with two hands. Other than that, your comment is a bit unclear.

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#2455310 - 08/31/15 02:22 AM Re: Do you challenge yourself with inversions to improve musc... [Re: jjo]
dire tonic Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 2388
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By jjo
Visalia: If your intent is to play solo piano, you will mostly be playing chords in your left hand.

Yes, for ensemble jazz, but Visalia's a keen Elton John fan so that wouldn't generally apply for pop music where the LH would be mostly roots/fifths and only occasional harmonic support for the RH which tends to incorporate chord notes just under the melody.

...just to add, I think the concept of 'inversion' is redundant, there's no need for it. As a simple example Take G7 which consists of the notes G,B,D,F, (some of which may be omitted depending on melody and context). Rather than view this chord from the perspective of root, 1st or 2nd inversion it's far more useful to hold a notion of those four notes, in any order, and to be ready to reach for them (or a subset of them) wherever your hands happen to be on the keyboard, taking in a two or even three octave range. Quite often, the constituent notes won't even be played as a close cluster anyway, but rather with wider voicing - voicings which don't even have a strict name in the sense that inversions do. The root note IS critical of course, which is why slash chords provide a more immediate, more readable notation than 'inversion'.

So, for a workout on G7, I would be using one or two hands and just go looking for the many G7 possibilities with various roots. There are dozens of variations - not just root, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd inversion!


Edited by dire tonic (08/31/15 08:01 AM)

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#2456008 - Today at 10:44 AM Re: Do you challenge yourself with inversions to improve musc... [Re: Visalia]
Farmerjones Online   blank
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 301
Loc: Midwest USA
It made the most sense to me when somebody here said, "Play everything first inversion is like playing guitar only using bar chords."
What did not appeal to me was using inversions to reduce big jumps. I wanted a sonic reason to use inversions. In the end I have to get bored with how I initially play a song. I have to get bored enough to explore. Usually I find another song before that happens. I'm more likely to mess with 9th and 11ths. Don't worry about it. Just keep at it. If you like the way you sound, rock on. If you don't, explore. Chord inversions are but one tool.
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#2456027 - Today at 11:21 AM Re: Do you challenge yourself with inversions to improve musc... [Re: Visalia]
Nahum Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/27/14
Posts: 817
Loc: Israel
If someone wants to have the pleasure from inversions of chords, let him practice on synthesizer through Strings sound, not the piano.

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#2456053 - Today at 12:37 PM Re: Do you challenge yourself with inversions to improve musc... [Re: Visalia]
Greener Offline

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014


Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1551
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By Visalia
Do you challenge yourself with what inversions you play to improve your overall muscular memory on the instrument?

Use inversions to improve the arrangement. For example if you are playing a stride accompaniment on G chord, and play a low G then stride up to play a G triad up top, then back to the low G then back up to the triad again for the 3rd and 4th beats, do you really want to come back to the exact same triad again? Then repeat the same pattern on the next chord? It may be more interesting to play the top triad in a different orientation for subsequent beats of the same chord. Your root is still G though and regardless of where you play the notes up top of the stride it is still a root G and not an inversion.

Move around everything to make more interesting. Everything except the root. You also have little to no flexibility with the melody.

Your LH follows the root of the chord or other bass note if indicated by a slash chord. Typically, follow this and the melody rigidly. Everything else though can be applied at your own discretion. So be creative.

If playing harmony in RH, the orientation of the RH harmony is simply one that sounds good with melody, and is easily reached with RH below the melody (3rd, 6th, triad ... will depend on the sound you seek). So, the melody sort of suggests an orientation of where to be and an inversion your RH can play.


Edited by Greener (Today at 12:52 PM)

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