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Music Theory for Guitar - Intervals - inversions

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Previous page: Music Theory for Guitar - Intervals - the Tritone or the Diminished Fifth Next page: Music Theory for Guitar - Harmonizing in inverted fifths

Intervals - inversions

Inversion of intervals mean that we are changing the orders of the notes in an interval. We move the root up one octave, or the note down one octave. The result is the same: We get the root on top, and the other note on the bottom. We will go through the intervals once more, in the same order as we did when we first looked at them.

If we move the root of the fifth interval C-G up one octave, we get G-C. But the G-C is a fourth. And this is what you should know: The inversion of a perfect fifth is a perfect fourth. Listen to the two intervals. I do not write the examples. You need to take another look, you can either go back, or go to C-G and G-C in my Ear training lessons. If you have found it difficult to distinguish between perfect fifths and perfect fourths, this is the reason: The same two notes can give both a perfect fifth and a perfect fourth.

C-G:

G-C:
It should now come as no surprise that the inversion of a perfect fourth is a perfect fifth. Listen to the perfect fourth C-F, and it's inversion F-C. You can find both the C-F and the F-C written out in my Ear training lessons. C-F:

F-C:

You might say: What is the point in this? If the inversion of a perfect fifth is a perfect fourth, why confuse the readers with many terms describing the same interval? To be honest, in my first draft of this lesson, that was almost what I was writing. But there is a point to it. When playing the major scale harmonized in fourths, I am sure you noticed that there was something wrong, particularly when harmonizing the root note. It simply would not rest with this fourth. An the reason is that the interval is C-F, or similar in other keys. It does not give us notes of the root chord. It gives us some kind of an F-chord, and we do not end on an F-chord when playing C-major.

If we make a change, and harmonize with the fourth below the scale note, it works better, particularly if you emphasize the top note (scale note) when playing. What you are doing now, is harmonizing in inverted fifths, rather than in fourths.

Play the major scale harmonized with inverted fifths in the following keys:
C-major F-major G-major D-major A-major E-major
I recommend that you learn this in all 12 keys, not just the 6 given here.
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Previous page: Music Theory for Guitar - Intervals - the Tritone or the Diminished Fifth Next page: Music Theory for Guitar - Harmonizing in inverted fifths