Why You NEED To Understand INTERVAL INVERSIONS On Guitar

Why You NEED To Understand INTERVAL INVERSIONS On Guitar

Tommaso Zillio

FREE Music Theory Map
Map of Music Theory
Download the FREE Map of Music Theory that will tell you what is the next topic you need to study

Captcha code:
By submitting your info, you agree to send it to Guitar Mastery Solutions, Inc. who will process and use it according to their privacy policy.

interval inversions guitar

Do you know how to invert an interval?

What is the inversion of a third? And if your answer is a ‘driht’, seek professional help.

("That's the best joke you can come up with?" Sorry guys, not enough coffee this morning, apparently...)

The thing is, many people don’t know how to invert intervals, nor do they know why it’s so important to learn.

But if I were to tell you that in order to invert an interval, you need to subtract the interval from the number 9 (i.e. subtract 3 from 9 to find the inversion of a third), you’ll probably be left with more questions than answers...

..questions like: "Why 9?" or "but how can I use inversions musically" or "Why in god’s name are you making me do math problems to play music? I dropped out of middle school to play guitar specifically so I would never have to do math ever again in my life."

Really struck a nerve there!

(ok, ok, I'll brew an extra cup of coffee for myself before I write another joke... )

Anyway, the thing is, not only I have answers to all of these questions bouncing around in your head in the video below, but I will also show you an actual musical application of interval inversion,...

... so go ahead and watch the video:

Understanding intervals within a scale also plays a big part in your understanding of chords and harmony. If you want to expand your knowledge of chords and harmony on the guitar, check out my Complete Chord Mastery guitar course.


Hello, internet so nice to see you! I have a great question on interval inversion.

May I know why we do nine minus X? I mean, it’s to find new intervals but why 9 instead of 8?. Hope my question makes sense. And why is it necessary to find new intervals?

Those are fantastically good questions. I'm going to start from the end and get to the beginning because that's the best way to answer. First question is I said the second last question is why we invert intervals? And if you think about it for a moment, that is a fantastically good question. Because it's a question that nobody ever asked.

Everybody opens their book, they read, there is this thing called interval inversion, and then they just learn how to do it. And they never think, why should we even invert an interval? Because, and there is a, there is a good answer.

Because this helps us write more music. Okay, it's a very specific thing, okay. So at a certain point, you are playing a chord progression or something, okay. Doesn't have to be complex.

Just playing C, G, C. It doesn't have to be complex, I want to use a simple example. And we have this CGC. And it's a such a basic idea that you will be hard pressed to think, How can I continue that? How can I play more music that is similar to this, I can continue my song. But that's why inversion exists. What am I playing here?

Now it's important to see exactly what am I playing. And again, this is a very, very basic example. Not even really that good sounding. But you have to understand these on a very basic keys so that you know exactly exactly what's happening. And you can apply to more complex situation, because what I'm playing is this.

That's a tablet run of a score. Okay, just want to show what's happening on the guitar. And I'm playing those notes here. 355. I have a C note, C note and an E note and then I'm playing 343. That's a G note. That's a B note. That's a D note.

So my chord here, see my chord here is what how do I write more music in this style. And one thing I can do is I'm taking those two notes on top of here, which form an interval that's an interval of a Major Third. And that's an interval of a minor third.

And I am inverting those, which means I am either moving the bottom note one octave higher or moving the top note one octave lower. Okay. Can I do that? Is there any way to do that? Yes, I like to move my head, a few things around the fretboard. But it is totally possible, doable, in fact, even quite obvious to do.

Okay, so, and how will they look like, it will look this way, I will have these again, a little bit around, it's going to be a it's going to be seven is going to be five, okay? And I'm going to clarify in a second is going to be three, it'll be five, there's going to be four, there will be one possible way of playing these and again see GC. See here, my notes are C C, E, C, C.

Here, my notes are C, E, C. So I effectively invert this interval moving the top note down an octave and the sound is this rather than it became. Here, I did the same to this chord here the notes are G, B, D, here notes G, D, B, I kept the bass the same.

I kept these note the same, and they took the top note and lowered down an octave effectively inverting this interval. And the way it sounds Is this my original little piece of music was this and my new piece of music and I obtained by inverting the top two notes of every chord sound this way which is slightly different and it's still the same chord progression but the voicing of the chord slightly changes.

Okay, now, it's a variation, it's not that great variation. It's not, I'm not, I'm not gonna write the Metropolitan orchestra to play this newfangled piece of mine, okay? Because it's fairly, fairly basic, okay? But it's a variation in it allow me to get some extra mileage of a very, very, very simple idea. We learn in version, not because we just want to put a lot of numbers around and understandable. And all that does is mathematic thing.

It's because whenever you have some intervals in your piece of music, and you have intervals all the time in your piece of music, every time you play a chord, you have several intervals, you want to learn how to switch them up and down. So invert moving the notes up and down and changing the order of those notes.

Because you can have the very same chord progression, even the very same melodies as before, but now, rather than being on top of the melodies in between the chord, and you have something else on top, and so you have the same music, but different, which is what a variation is. And so maybe you can write the second verse of your song, or you can write the chorus of your song, or you can write another part of your song, so that it'll sound similar to what you had before.

But not exactly the same. So it's not just repetition. Okay, in fact, at the beginning, we didn't talk about interval inversion. If you've historically music speaking, we're talking about melody inversion, you were seeing these five, three here, like these, as a little melody, and this is another little melody, this five, four, and you were inverting the melody.

Yeah, this melody on top. And now this melody is in between 20 In between, and I have this melody on top. That's what the way that we're thinking, okay, that's why we invert. The question was why we need to subtract the interval from nine.

So let me explain what this is all about. The intervals we had right now are intervals of a third one major and one minor. When we invert them, they become an interval of a 16th. Okay, example, from C to E, if an interval of a third major third, from E, up to the next C, if an interval of a minor six.

So from C to E, major third, from this E, the next C, minor six, you find these number by taking nine and subtracting this number here, and you'll find six. So you know, the theme, the inversion of a third, which is always going to be a six, the inversion of a six is always going to be a third because nine minus six is always three, and so on and so forth.

The inversion of a second is going to be a seven, because nine minus two is seven, and so on and so forth. The question is why nine and not eight? That's a fantastically good question. And it's explained, because our system is very cumbersome.

Because let's make this example here, let's write all the notes in the C major scale. So we see what's going on. C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, the interval between C and E is called a third. Because if you count all the notes involved, there are three notes, one, two, and three, C, D, and E, three notes. So think about a third, in this case, the interval between E and C.

It's an interval of six, because if you count all the notes involved, you count e one, F two, G three, a four, B, five, C six. So it's an interval of a six. That's how we define the numbers of the interlock. It's a very inconvenient way, because as you know, this, we just counted e twice, we count with E in the tree in the third, and we counted the in the six, we also counted C twice.

So there are seven notes in the scale, C, D, F, G, A, B, but we count E twice, and we count C twice. So if we didn't do that, we should subtract the number from seven. But since we count E, twice, and C twice, we need to get seven plus two, nine and subtract that number from nine which is honestly a very embarrassing thing as we have this thing because every time I explain it, it sounds so stupid, okay, but that's the system we are left with.

Okay? And since everybody's so we used to use a third, third Sixth Doctor and all this kind of thing. I mean, even the octave is C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C 12345678, is because you're counting to C twice. Okay, so even octave, whatever, it's what it is, but I mean, everybody uses these right now. Every single musician has guarantees.

It's impossible now to change the system, honestly. So you just need to get used to it and this idiosyncrasy is because it's a bit cumbersome. Now music theory is full of those little problems, okay, because the system was invented in the span of centuries by people with big wigs, okay, who did not talk with each other?

Because there wasn't the internet, okay? And they can, they could barely send in his name mail to each other, and they were talking in different languages, and then on and then they didn't, sometimes they didn't even want to talk with each other because honestly, seriously, you really think the Italians were talking with the journalists and we're talking with the French right, because guys do not see each other.

Everybody will have to have their own theory, okay, and be the right one about that. So the system we have is a hodgepodge of different things all put together, okay. And in a strange way, there are some countries where the least b, b indicates if I remember correctly, B flat, but we could call B flat and they use H for natural B, or vice versa.

I never remember that account was like Italy, where I come from when we don't use the letter we use do re mi fa so la ti do Remi fasula T doe or the Latin e we use Remi Salah Tito, okay, so we can even agree on the name of neurons guys can't even agree on that.

So of course, this is full of this problem. On the other hand, music percent the real stuff, being behind all the strange things, the real thing, the real music, it's very simple, very useful, and help you make become a great musician and write great music. So if you want to learn that and avoid all those pitfalls, and learn them properly, when you don't have to build on properly and learn to bypass them when you can bypass them.

I have a few courses out there and they do recommend you guys take my course complete chord mastery, complete chord mastery, it's not a book. It's a complete video course that takes you from the basics up. We do everything you need to know about harmony and chords on your guitar. All the theory is done straight on the fret board.

There is no theory for the sake of theory here. Everything is immediately practical. And everything is developed through exercises so you know how to apply these immediately on your guitar. If you have just a minute click on the link on the top right to check out complete chord mastery.

If you liked this video, smash that like button and don't forget to subscribe and click on notification otherwise YouTube will not let you know when I put up a new video. And if you have any comments or feedback suggestions, write them down in the comment. I enjoy reading from you and they make videos on your suggestions. This is Tommaso Zillio for MusicTheoryForGuitar.com, and until next time, enjoy.

FREE Music Theory Map
Map of Music Theory
Download the FREE Map of Music Theory that will tell you what is the next topic you need to study

Captcha code:
By submitting your info, you agree to send it to Guitar Mastery Solutions, Inc. who will process and use it according to their privacy policy.
© 2011-2024 Guitar Mastery Solutions, Inc.