• Jay EuDaly

7th Inversions!

I'm really excited to announce that Unit 5 of Vertical Truth: Chordal Mechanisms for the Guitar will be launched Monday, May 20th, 2019!

This product is a PDF download that has:

  • 10 Lessons

  • 53 Pages

  • 237 Fretboard Diagrams

  • 60 Notation Examples

  • 51 Demonstration Videos

PLUS...Every demonstration video has dozens of embedded dynamic fretboard diagrams.

Want to know what all the above looks like? Check out this promo video:

What are 7th Inversions?

An inversion is a chord with any other note of the chord but the root in the bass. Here is a quick example of the inversions of Bb7:

How are 7th Inversions Used?

One of the ways 7th Inversions are used is to create more variety when playing a single chord. This comes in very handy when playing any song that sits on one chord for a while, like a Blues where you have one chord for 4 bars. Think about what piano players play. They don't just play the same static thing for 4 bars - they change up the voicing and move things around. Very few guitar players do that. You can put yourself in a rare category of guitar playing by knowing 7th Inversions.

Another way inversions can be used is to create texture when 2 guitars are playing together. Each guitar can play a different voicing of the same chord rather than both guitarists playing exactly the same thing all the time. There is a wide variety of sounds and textures that can be achieved this way - but you have to know your inversions in order to know the possibilities.

A third use for inversions is to create smooth voice-leading from one chord to another. If you play a Dmi7 to a G7 the way most guitarists do it, both chords are played in root position, it looks like this on the staff (you don't have to be able to read music to get the concept here). Notice how ALL the notes jump down a 4th; for obvious reasons, this is called parallel voice-leading:

Parallel Voice-Leading

Sound-wise, this can be somewhat jarring because every note jumps a 4th down.

However, Dmi7 and G7 have 2 notes in common: F and D. If we voice the G7 chord in 2nd inversion, the D and F notes stay the same:

Common Tone Voice-Leading

From one chord to another 2 notes stay the same – thus “common tone.” Of the notes that change, one moves a whole-step and other other moves a half-step, i.e. “smooth voice leading.” There is very little movement and yet the chord has completely changed. It's a much smoother, less jarring sound.

There's also less physical movement on the fretboard; both chords are on the same set of strings, as opposed to jumping from one string group to another, as what happens with parallel voice-leading. And less movement means less potential for error.

Compare the Sound

The guitar lends itself to parallel voice-leading. It's inherent in the nature of the instrument. When you move power chords and bar chords around (the typical way most guitarists play), as in the parallel voice-leading example above, most of the time you are in parallel mode.

Knowing 7th inversions will take your playing to a whole new level of musicality and open up sounds that set you apart.

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