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Inversions

Posted By: jazzpig

Inversions - 01/29/19 01:26 AM

A little background on myself.
I played accordion as a kid and now trying to learn piano.
I'm learning on my own for the time being, Alfred Song Books, scales, chords, Hanon drills, with the intention of finding a teacher once I get most of it under my belt.

I have very good dexterity and control with my right hand, most of my efforts are towards working on left hand technique, When playing 7th chords, in all their variations, I find playing inversions more comfortable for my left hand and smoother transitioning within certain chord progressions.

Is it essential to play chords starting from root notes or are inversions just as valid?
I would prefer to learn proper technique from the start rather than try to break habits later on.

Thanks
Posted By: dmd

Re: Inversions - 01/29/19 01:35 AM

Originally Posted by jazzpig
I would prefer to learn proper technique from the start rather than try to break habits later on.


Well, now that you said that …..

If you really mean that …..

You need to get a teacher BEFORE you "get most of it under my belt".

Which …. BTW … is the same answer you were given 5 years ago.

It is still the correct answer.



The answer to your question is ….. Inversions are just as valid.


Posted By: LadyAcadia

Re: Inversions - 01/29/19 05:06 AM

I think you are ready for a teacher now. I never studied Hanon. My teacher started me with Cherney. I was exposed to a lot of technique with those exercises. She would then select a piece from my classical book that demonstrates the technique.

I showed up for my first lesson able to read notes comfortably that fall within the ledger lines, some familiarity of the scales of major keys and stuff I learned reading sheet music singing in the choir. It had been decades since I had taken a piano class in high school and 2 terms of music theory in college.

I was thankful that she pretty much started me from scratch. And because I didn't have too many bad habits to break we accomplished so much in my first year. In my second year, I was able to complete the 40 Pieces in a Year Challenge by August!

I wish you the best in your musical journey and you probably already know that this forum is a great resource for information & support. 😀
Posted By: jazzpig

Re: Inversions - 01/29/19 06:17 AM

Originally Posted by dmd
Originally Posted by jazzpig
I would prefer to learn proper technique from the start rather than try to break habits later on.


Well, now that you said that …..

If you really mean that …..

You need to get a teacher BEFORE you "get most of it under my belt".

Which …. BTW … is the same answer you were given 5 years ago.

It is still the correct answer.



The answer to your question is ….. Inversions are just as valid.



You're edited remark prompted me to revisit my earlier posts. I started this process back then and fell off from it for a number of reasons and got back on the horse a little while ago. I'm further along than back then but reading that post I realize how my mindset is almost exactly the same as it was then, even in my wording. It's pretty spooky actually. Thanks for the nudge. BTW, deep down I know you're right about finding a teacher now…..I'm such a stubborn prick though.
Posted By: jazzpig

Re: Inversions - 01/29/19 06:33 AM

Originally Posted by LadyAcadia
I think you are ready for a teacher now. I never studied Hanon. My teacher started me with Cherney. I was exposed to a lot of technique with those exercises. She would then select a piece from my classical book that demonstrates the technique.

I showed up for my first lesson able to read notes comfortably that fall within the ledger lines, some familiarity of the scales of major keys and stuff I learned reading sheet music singing in the choir. It had been decades since I had taken a piano class in high school and 2 terms of music theory in college.

I was thankful that she pretty much started me from scratch. And because I didn't have too many bad habits to break we accomplished so much in my first year. In my second year, I was able to complete the 40 Pieces in a Year Challenge by August!

I wish you the best in your musical journey and you probably already know that this forum is a great resource for information & support. 😀

Sounds like you found the right path and enjoying great success.

Thanks for the encouragement.
Posted By: Greener

Re: Inversions - 01/29/19 02:34 PM

Originally Posted by jazzpig

Is it essential to play chords starting from root notes or are inversions just as valid?


For solo piano you need to pay attention to the lowest note. This defines the bass line which helps make the piece recognizeable. So, no, not any inversion is just as valid. If you are presented with a G chord, the lowest note heard should be G.

The notes g, b and d make up a g chord and no matter where the notes are played, or the order they are played in, it is still a g chord. But, not any chord bass note will do.

Once you have established the bass note though, the rest of the chord notes can be played in any configuration you can possibly imagine and it is still a root chord.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Inversions - 01/29/19 03:15 PM

Originally Posted by jazzpig
Is it essential to play chords starting from root notes or are inversions just as valid?


It depends on the specific chord in the specific piece you're playing. The only way to know is to play it both ways and listen. Slash chords are supposed to be played in the given inversion, the imperative is less clear for root position. As always, try it as written, then try what you feel like trying.

The next step is to learn to not play chords -- not big muddy left hand block chords. Break them up, arpeggiate, drop notes that don't work, move some notes up to the right hand....
Posted By: Greener

Re: Inversions - 01/29/19 03:30 PM

Slash chords indicate an alternate bass note. Non slash chords indicate a root bass. Any inversion is valid for right hand, or how you play the chord after the bass is established. But, you first need to establish the bass note. Otherwise you are altering the arrangement. Also fine, but if you like the arrangement, why would you bother?

Rootless chords and random bass note may work great when you have a bass player to establsh the bass and keep the song on track, but doesn't work well with solo piano.
Posted By: dmd

Re: Inversions - 01/29/19 05:54 PM

This is a perfect example of why a teacher can help.

You asked a seemingly simple question and got 4 or 5 varied responses.

All of them may be correct depending upon the situation in which they are being played.

A teacher would probably discuss this with you and help you understand.


With this method (ask on piano forums) you will need to figure out which is correct/wrong/possible ….

Good Luck

Posted By: Jitin

Re: Inversions - 01/29/19 06:15 PM

I'd say, the inversions are important, fingering is somewhat personal, but understand how chords have their significance is most important

Most music, rarely you will find chords only in root or inversions, rather any combination of those notes imply that chord.

So if you have c major 7 chord then any combination of c e g b, any combination of those notes in both hands would equate to c major 7

playing the inversions and now how it feels under your hands will help you identify the chord better, but its really not that important playing it with "correct" fingering in each inversion as you may think, its far more significant knowing the harmony you are playing...

you might play c e g in left hand and in right you might play e g b, neither of those are inversions exactly of c major 7 for each hand, but it is still c major 7 chord.
Posted By: Greener

Re: Inversions - 01/29/19 06:33 PM

Agree, that a teacher will easily straighten this out. Confusion comes when you think of the chord as tight cluster of notes and what order the notes should be in. In reality though, the order does not matter for any inversion, but the note played below whatever inversion you choose does matter. So a Gm7 in you RH can start on F, G Bb or D and so long as you play a G below all of this in your LH, it is still a Gm7 in root position. In stride you just need to play the G bass note and then pick any order you like for the cluster at the top of the stride. Again, it is still in root position, since the bass establishes the inversion. The bass note matters and is not negotiable if you want to be true to the arrangement.
Posted By: jazzpig

Re: Inversions - 01/29/19 11:48 PM

Originally Posted by Jitin
I'd say, the inversions are important, fingering is somewhat personal, but understand how chords have their significance is most important

Most music, rarely you will find chords only in root or inversions, rather any combination of those notes imply that chord.

So if you have c major 7 chord then any combination of c e g b, any combination of those notes in both hands would equate to c major 7

playing the inversions and now how it feels under your hands will help you identify the chord better, but its really not that important playing it with "correct" fingering in each inversion as you may think, its far more significant knowing the harmony you are playing...

you might play c e g in left hand and in right you might play e g b, neither of those are inversions exactly of c major 7 for each hand, but it is still c major 7 chord.

This is pretty much the gut feeling I had about this. It's not like I want to become a concert classical pianist, but I do want to learn the proper way and then use it the way it best suits me.

I find that playing most 7th chords from a root position (with left hand) is a real challenge physically. It feels like I'm contorting my fingers and they get trapped in the keys. I don't know if this a result of me trying to learn this later in life with older hands, or something that is overcome with practice, it feels so unnatural. I would love to hear your experience on this.

Thanks so much for the feedback to this point. Most importantly, it's helped me decide on finding a teacher much sooner than I originally intended. Not because this wasn't helpful but I realize I'm spinning my wheels way to much with stuff and I need the benefit of someone's knowledge and direction to get to where I want to be.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Inversions - 01/29/19 11:52 PM

Originally Posted by Greener
.... if you want to be true to the arrangement.


Ah, there's the key word: arrangement. Are you playing a carefully crafted arrangement, or is it just a lead sheet? Either way, try it as written first, then try your own ideas. Listen.


Posted By: Greener

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 12:08 AM

Funny how with classical we wouldn't dare change an arrangement, but with a lead sheet anything is game? If you have a good lead sheet arrangement and you change the bass line, well fine if you like, but not how the piece goes and it will be noticed.
Posted By: Moo :)

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 12:11 AM

DMD be nice please. It is not always easier for adults to go to a teacher. I found it hard to go back as an adult after many years as a child learning. This is a beginner forum so please make your point a bit nicer.

Jazzpig I dont think you need practice chords. I myself picked up this skill from pieces slowly from a teacher and we normally do it in pieces. Most beginner pieces I learnt had the tune and chords in the base. This I think is the most enjoyable and simpliest method. Here is a simple this example here you have two chords - C major and G major 7th, which I think is in its first inversion.



A teacher will make it easier but you can learn on your own if you have reasons not to want a teacher. I do think it can help. Generally its easier to go at earlier rather than later.
Posted By: Moo :)

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 12:15 AM

Maybe I was wrong, maybe its G min 7th, first inversion.
Posted By: Greener

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 12:47 AM

The chords are C and G7/B. So 1st inversion of G7. Don't see a Bb so not minor. In this case sure try a G bass, and D bass and F bass with the G chord. A good example of how the texture changes. Most people will want to hear the B bass because it is how they remember the piece going.
Posted By: JoBert

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 09:11 AM

Originally Posted by Greener
Funny how with classical we wouldn't dare change an arrangement, but with a lead sheet anything is game? If you have a good lead sheet arrangement and you change the bass line, well fine if you like, but not how the piece goes and it will be noticed.

Yes, with a lead sheet, anything is game, because of the simple fact of what a lead sheet is, namely not an arrangement. A lead sheet, by definition, does not have an arranged bass line. So you have to improvise your own bass line or chord arrangement, etc. Or in other words: If it has an arranged bass line, it’s not really a lead sheet anymore.

From Wikipedia:

Originally Posted by Wikipedia
A lead sheet is a form of musical notation that specifies the essential elements of a popular song: the melody, lyrics and harmony. The melody is written in modern Western music notation, the lyric is written as text below the staff and the harmony is specified with chord symbols above the staff.

The lead sheet does not describe the chord voicings, voice leading, bass line or other aspects of the accompaniment. These are specified later by an arranger or improvised by the performers[1], and are considered aspects of the arrangement or performance of a song, rather than a part of the song itself.
Posted By: Greener

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 11:36 AM

Suggest not relying on dictionaries when learning how to play. The question was about chord inversions and playing chords. I was taught this way and not making this stuff up. Do you really think that when someone charts a grand staff they know exactly what the bass line should be, but when they chart a lead sheet they have no clue and don't care?

Pieces are made up of chords and not any bass will do.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 02:39 PM

Originally Posted by Greener
. Do you really think that when someone charts a grand staff they know exactly what the bass line should be, but when they chart a lead sheet they have no clue and don't care? .


Where do you get those wonderful well arranged lead sheets? The ones I've seen can be OK, or they can be very mundane and prosaic. "Don't care" may be putting it a tad strong, but there's not much to be enthusiastic about in many of them.

Indeed, not any bass will do. But often you can do better than what's on the paper.
Posted By: jazzpig

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 05:28 PM

Originally Posted by jazzpig

I find that playing most 7th chords from a root position (with left hand) is a real challenge physically. It feels like I'm contorting my fingers and they get trapped in the keys. I don't know if this a result of me trying to learn this later in life with older hands, or something that is overcome with practice, it feels so unnatural. I would love to hear your experience on this.


I'ld like to revisit this concern I have. Does anybody have any thoughts on this, I see others play these chords seemingly effortlessly and it just feels so off for me.
Let me know if you can.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 06:03 PM

Originally Posted by jazzpig
Originally Posted by jazzpig

I find that playing most 7th chords from a root position (with left hand) is a real challenge physically. It feels like I'm contorting my fingers and they get trapped in the keys. I don't know if this a result of me trying to learn this later in life with older hands, or something that is overcome with practice, it feels so unnatural. I would love to hear your experience on this.


I'ld like to revisit this concern I have. Does anybody have any thoughts on this, I see others play these chords seemingly effortlessly and it just feels so off for me.
Let me know if you can.


Yes, a lot of times you get chords where most of the notes are naturals, but the 7 lands on a black key -- like C7. Especially in the "easy" keys like C, F, and G. You have to get your thumb up onto a black while the rest of the notes are whites. If your fingers don't fit between the blacks, like mine, that's a pain. One solution is to transpose to a "hard" key -- which actually is easy on your hands, just a little more work for your brain.

Rocket's suggestion of dropping some notes is a good one. Often the 5 is a good one to lose. But the 3 is what makes it major or minor, so that one you usually need.

Inversions might work -- I find C7/E a whole lot easier to play than C7 -- but the danger there is compromising the bass for the sake of convenience.
Posted By: rocket88

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 06:12 PM

This post is a little out of sequence due to editing.

Originally Posted by jazzpig

I find that playing most 7th chords from a root position (with left hand) is a real challenge physically. It feels like I'm contorting my fingers and they get trapped in the keys. I don't know if this a result of me trying to learn this later in life with older hands, or something that is overcome with practice, it feels so unnatural. I would love to hear your experience on this.


Can you post a video of your playing some chords with the Left hand?

Pretty much impossible to comment accurately with such limited information. It is like posting "I don't feel good" and asking for accurate medical advice.

In any case, here are some possible causes of your problem:

* Sitting too close to the keyboard

* Sitting too far to the right or the left so the wrist is twisted while playing chords

* Fingers too thick to fit into the black keys

* Playing too many notes of the chord...the left hand plays in the area of the keyboard where a full chord can sound muddy. Drop a note, (often the 5th) and chords get much easier to play, and are less muddy. (This also can help with thick fingers)

For example, if the music calls for a C7 chord in the left hand, you can play C with the 5th finger, and Bb with the thumb, and fill in other note(s) with the Right hand. And A G7 chord with the left hand sounds good with G played with the 5th finger, and F and G played together with the thumb...a bit unconventional with Classical fingering, but it works well.

BTW, can you find a piano teacher? A good teacher can quickly identify the problem and (possibly) come up with a workable solution. I have had numerous people show up for their first lesson after learning from a bad teacher or from internet videos and/or books, and the cause(s) of the problem they want help with is easily identifiable to a knowledgable onlooker, yet was a mystery to them, and given their abilities, probably not something they could find and fix.
Posted By: jazzpig

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 06:55 PM

Originally Posted by JohnSprung

Rocket's suggestion of dropping some notes is a good one. Often the 5 is a good one to lose. But the 3 is what makes it major or minor, so that one you usually need.

Inversions might work -- I find C7/E a whole lot easier to play than C7 -- but the danger there is compromising the bass for the sake of convenience.


Dropping the 5 does make it much easier but it sounds a little hollow and compromises the tone significantly in my opinion.

I agree, I prefer C7/E to C7 but I also feel that it's less of a compromise than dropping the 5, in the bigger picture. At least that's what it sounds like to my ear.

Thanks
Posted By: jazzpig

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 07:10 PM

Originally Posted by rocket88

* Sitting too close to the keyboard

* Sitting too far to the right or the left so the wrist is twisted while playing chords

BTW, can you find a piano teacher? A good teacher can quickly identify the problem and (possibly) come up with a workable solution. I have had numerous people show up for their first lesson after learning from a bad teacher or from internet videos and/or books, and the cause(s) of the problem they want help with is easily identifiable to a knowledgable onlooker, yet was a mystery to them, and given their abilities, probably not something they could find and fix.


I made some adjustments in both areas and I can't believe the difference! We'll see to what extent it will resolve my issues, but with the few chords I tried, it's like night and day.

I have a 61 key portable that I got as a gift, that I practice on. Funny enough, when I practice scales and Hanon I adjust my seating but I never have for practicing chords. Don't ask me why. I'm looking to pick up a good quality 88 key portable very soon, before I find a teacher.

Yes, I've come to the conclusion that I want to find a teacher much sooner than later. As I mentioned in a previous post, I realize I'm spinning my wheels too much.

Thanks
Posted By: rocket88

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 07:15 PM

That is good news! Sometimes a small adjustment can make all the difference in the world, like taking a pebble out of your shoe. laugh

BTW, many if not most 61 note keyboards have smaller keys that are both shorter and narrower as compared to the keys on an acoustic piano, or to an 88 key weighted keyboard that imitates a piano.

That factor alone could be a significant part of your problem.

Best wishes!
Posted By: jazzpig

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 07:31 PM

Originally Posted by rocket88

BTW, many if not most 61 note keyboards have smaller keys that are both shorter and narrower as compared to the keys on an acoustic piano, or to an 88 key weighted keyboard that imitates a piano.

That factor alone could be a significant part of your problem. !


I agree, Whenever I 've fiddled around on an acoustic or 88 weighted keyboard, it really felt like my hands could "breathe".

Thanks again.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 08:15 PM

Originally Posted by jazzpig
I'm looking to pick up a good quality 88 key portable very soon, before I find a teacher.


You might want to reverse that order, so your teacher can have some input on the make/model decision....


Posted By: Greener

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 08:57 PM

Originally Posted by JohnSprung

Where do you get those wonderful well arranged lead sheets? The ones I've seen can be OK, or they can be very mundane and prosaic.


My Dad wrote them. I have 100's but there are 1000's. My Sister has the mother load. Yes unfortunately commercial music is rarely very good. Agree you may often need to make an arrangement better, but usually they will need a lot more then just an alternate bass note.
Posted By: jazzpig

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 09:48 PM

Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by jazzpig
I'm looking to pick up a good quality 88 key portable very soon, before I find a teacher.


You might want to reverse that order, so your teacher can have some input on the make/model decision....



That's the smart move. Thanks so much!
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Inversions - 01/30/19 10:40 PM

Originally Posted by Greener
My Dad wrote them. I have 100's but there are 1000's. My Sister has the mother load. Yes unfortunately commercial music is rarely very good. .


It would be great if you could publish some of them. The rights hassles are potentially daunting, but anything from 1923 and earlier is PD. That means the Charleston is PD now. Next year 1924 goes PD, and so forth up to 1963.... Maybe do a book every few years as songs become available....

http://www.publicdomainsherpa.com/copyright-duration2.html
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