[Smt-talk] "inversions"

Trevor de Clercq trevor.declercq at gmail.com
Tue Mar 18 12:23:12 PDT 2014

Hi all,

My students with some piano background often confuse chord inversions with what their right hand is doing, such as a "first inversion" chord means that the chordal third is played by the thumb of the right hand, even if the root is in the bass (left hand).  This misconception seems to be something derived from their previous piano pedagogy as far as I can tell.

My question: Is there a technical term for different voicings of the right hand?  I realize I can't retrain the piano teachers of the world to use a different term.  But does something like "first voicing," "second voicing" exist?  Maybe this is more a thread for the keyboard world, but it impacts my music theory teaching.

Oh, and dear fundamentals textbook authors, PLEASE stop explaining and drilling inversions of chords using only the treble clef.  It reinforces this misconception and leads others down the same path.  I realize it's a convenience thing (cost of paper and ink), but it unnecessarily confuses so many of our students.

Trevor de Clercq, PhD (Music Theory, Eastman 2012)
Assistant Professor
Department of Recording Industry
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN 37132
(office) Ezell 104A
trevor.declercq at mtsu.edu

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