First Inversion Chords
You must first fully understand “root position” chords before you attempt to understand first inversion chords. Inversions are based on a full knowledge of root position. What is “inversion?” It means, literally, “to turn upside down.” Remember that in the root position chord, the name of the chord (C, for example) was always the same as bottom note (the key furthest to your left.)
First Inversion Made From Root Position
So if you played a C chord, the lowest key of that chord in root position is always C.
Here’s a C chord in root position:
The C is on the bottom, the E is in the middle, and the G is on the top.
Now take that bottom note C, and put it on the top of the pile:
Now you have a C chord in “first inversion,” in which the bottom note is no longer the root of the chord ( C ) but has been changed to E. The chord is still a C chord, except that it is now a different “flavor” of C. Let’s do it with an F chord. Here’s an F chord in root position:
The F is on the bottom, the A is in the middle, and the C is on the top. Now take that bottom note F, and put it on the top of the pile:
Now you have an F chord in which the BOTTOM note is no longer the root of the chord ( F ) but has been changed to A. The chord is still an F chord, except that it is now a different “flavor” of F.
Examples of First Inversion Chords
Learn these first inversion position chords. If you played the three keys at the same time on a real keyboard, that is the sound of the chord:
C Major = 3 5 8
A major = #1 3 6 (#1 is the black key in between 1 and 2.)
The principle is universally the same with all 12 chords: to make a “first inversion” of a chord, take the bottom note of that chord and move it to the top. Do this with the basic chords C F G D E and A. Don’t go further until you fully understand the idea and can play C F G D E and A chords in first inversion and root position.
Music is a matrix of chords, and chords are the interlocking Lego’s of music. Learn the chords and everything in music at the piano will fall into place. Learning chord inversions should only be attempted with kids when they are firmly acquainted with root position chords.