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Week 7B: Inversions

· Read 03/31/21


  • Check out CAST (they had Jacob Collier come a few years ago, a jazz masterclass last year, also lots of non-music stuff)
  • Check out Project MUSE, highlighting the work of Black composers

Brian Eno - Thursday Afternoon

  • Pioneer of atmospheric music
  • Entirely built on dominant 7th chord for an entire hour
  • Synth in background, piano appregiating through chord

Inversions worksheet

  • Denote which chordal member is in the bass (actual lowest note)
  • For triads, root position is the most stable

    • In the overtone series, the bass note really matters (lol I still don't know what "overtone series" is)
  • 1st inversion is less stable, but generally interchangeable with root position
  • 2nd inversion is unstable, not going to talk about it this week
  • Stability is relative, see Thursday Afternoon

Chorus of Frozen - For the First Time in Forever

  • Pop music chord notation: "F/A" means "chord/bass"
  • What's the musical effect of inversions? As a composer, why would you use this?

    • Variety; melody has a fifth, nice to have a different note in the bass to fill it out
    • Instability; musical drive for resolution
    • Tension
  • Aside: Brahms D minor piano concerto opens with a huge first inversion chord

Back to worksheet: notation

  • "Five six four" five=V (the chord itself), 6 and 4 are intervals from the bass

Seventh chords

  • Root is stable, all other inversions equally unstable
  • Numbers are easy to remember: root 7, 1st inversion 6 5, 2nd inversion 4 3, 3rd inversion 2 (or 4 2)
  • Dissonant vii^6 diminished (idk how to notate this, 7th diminished) resembles V43 chord

    • Rare in pop music

Beethoven Piano Sonata Op. 13 "Pathetique"

  • Note that tendency tones still apply here in the bass, e.g. chordal 4th going down and leading tone going up
  • In other words, tendency tones in thee bass affect chord grammar

Labeling systems

  • JOOTS: thinking tool, jumping outside of the system