[Smt-talk] "inversions"

Donna Doyle donnadoyle at att.net
Wed Mar 19 09:36:56 PDT 2014

Three comments:

How about saying, "the chord root/3rd/5th in the soprano"?

I agree with "RH position" instead of "inversion."

Try giving students an introduction to the physical nature of sound. Easy 'experiments' can be performed at the piano to bring out the strong overtones (3, 4, and 5) of a bass tone.

Try making an analogy with dancing: One can wave one's arms as much as one likes but one moves across the floor only with the feet.

Donna Doyle

Aaron Copland School of Music
Queens College
65-30 Kissena Blvd.
Flushing, NY  11367
tele: 718-997-3819
fax:  718-997-3849
email: donna.doyle at qc.cuny.edu
email: donnadoyle at att.net

On Mar 19, 2014, at 9:27 AM, Christine Emily Boone <luvsfab4 at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Trevor,
> Yes, this is how quite a few piano methods refer to these chord positions in the right hand only. The reason they do so is to get students to easily recognize the "shape" of triads in the right hand, and each of these shapes needs a name. So a student can look at a line consisting of a lot of notes, and be able to say, "Ahh, this just a series of parallel chords in first inversion." But I agree, it is confusing when they then hear that the bass can somehow change that inversion that they've learned. I like your suggestion about using the word "position" instead of inversion!
> -Christine Boone
> Instructor of Music Theory
> Indiana State University
> From: Trevor de Clercq <trevor.declercq at gmail.com>
> To: smt-talk Talk <smt-talk at societymusictheory.org> 
> Sent: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 3:23 PM
> Subject: [Smt-talk] "inversions"
> 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.
> Best,
> Trevor de Clercq, PhD (Music Theory, Eastman 2012)
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Recording Industry
> Middle Tennessee State University
> Murfreesboro, TN 37132
> (office) Ezell 104A
> 615-898-5821
> trevor.declercq at mtsu.edu
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