[Smt-talk] "inversions"

Donna Doyle donnadoyle at att.net
Wed Mar 19 19:50:39 PDT 2014

Nicolas, this disposition is normal for "keyboard" style (often used in American keyboard harmony classes-- something to which I alluded in my remarks). See, for ex Aldwell/Schachter, pp 97-8 (4th ed). As I also said,
Boulanger urged her students to play two voices per hand, not only to create a more open texture, but also to foster contrapuntal thinking/hearing. She insisted that harmony exercises be written in and played from four clefs (three C and one F), so that each voice becomes a line in its proper register. Of course, the soprano and bass voices are the most important/noticeable. But often the three upper lines, if well written, can be inverted.

Donna Doyle

On Mar 19, 2014, at 4:38 PM, Nicolas Meeùs <nicolas.meeus at scarlet.be> wrote:

> None of the answers to this question appears to have raised the problem that Trevor's students, apparently playing the bass in the left hand and the other voices in the right one, appear to see the inversion as the position with respect to the tenor!
> I find this puzzling on two counts:
> 1) Is it normal to play harmony with only one voice in the left hand? I think to remember that during my studies, we played chorals with two voices in each hand; I often played continuo in the same way.
> 2) As many of the previous answers here have shown, several of us would believe that the upper voice, rather than the tenor, is the most important after the bass for determining the chord position.
> In any case, I think to remember that in my classes (or at least, in my own usage), we used the following French terminology:
> – renversement (inversion) for the inversion of the chord.
> – position for its upper note: a triad in any inversion could be in 3–, 5– or 8–position (but for the fact that a triad,       say, in first inversion and 3-position would double its 3d, an unlikely disposition).
> I must say that I rarely bothered which note was in the tenor and which in the alt.
> Nicolas Meeùs
> Le 18/03/2014 20:23, Trevor de Clercq a écrit :
>> 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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