[Smt-talk] "inversions"

nick at baragwanath.com nick at baragwanath.com
Thu Mar 20 03:57:45 PDT 2014

During the thoroughbass era, basic chords were taught at the keyboard in terms of hand positions: 1st position = 1st degree of the scale in the uppermost part; 2nd position = 3rd in the uppermost part; and 3rd position = 5th in the upper part. Have a look at Fenaroli 1775. 


From: Ildar Khannanov
Sent: ‎Wednesday‎, ‎19‎ ‎March‎ ‎2014 ‎21‎:‎53
To: Olli Väisälä, Trevor de Clercq
Cc: smt-talk Talk

Dear Olli,

the same in Russian terminology: "in position of the prime, in position of the tertia and in position of the quinta." And, yes, the words from another language (Latin) are used in order not to confuse students. In the very beginning (in early chapters of Sposobin's and other textbook) a student has to analyze the function of the chord, its spacing and, necessarily, the "position" (i.e., what is in soprano). There is also a discussion of how this "position" changes the expressive quality of a chord.

So, there are two terminological clarifications: transformational (obrascheniye vs. peremescheniye) and essential (position in soprano).


Ildar Khannanov

Peabody Conservatory

solfeggio7 at yahoo.com

On Wednesday, March 19, 2014 8:50 AM, Olli Väisälä <ovaisala at siba.fi> wrote:

> 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?

A good question. I also have wondered how to express these in English.

I teach in two languages, Finnish and English. In Finnish, I can use  
terms that literally translate to "octave-position," "third-position"  
and "fifth-position" in English, to identify the tone of the soprano.  
I suspect that similar expressions are used in other languages.  
However, these don't seem to work in English (partly because interval  
names are the same as normal ordinary numbers).

Olli Väisälä
Sibelius Academy
University of the Arts, Helsinki
ovaisala at siba.fi

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