A chord is inverted when the bass note is not the root note. Chord inversion is especially simple in M3 tuning. Chords are inverted simply by raising one or two notes by three strings; each raised note is played with the same finger as the original note. Inverted major and minor chords can be played on two frets in M3 tuning.[56][74] In standard tuning, the shape of inversions depends on the involvement of the irregular major-third, and can involve four frets.[75]

Once you know the basic chords, it might be easier to think of them the way the function inside a key. For example, when in the key of E, the E (I) is called the Tonic. It's what all the other chords want to get to—which is what helps give western music its sense of motion. The A (IV) in the key of E functions as the Subdominant—it's sort of a passive in-between, just as happy to continue forward, as to relax back to the Tonic. The Dominant is just what it sounds like: it leads you where it wants to go. In the key of E, that role is filled by the B (V), and will definitely make your brain want to get back to the Tonic! When you get more familiar with the chords, and want to sketch out a tune, try writing it as I-IV-V (or variations of that) instead of E-A-B. It will make it much easier to transpose when you find out your singer cannot sing in the original key!


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