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Section 6.3 Inverted Triads

An inverted triad does not have the root as the lowest note. It is important to distinguish between root and bass. The root of a chord is the lowest note when the notes are stacked in thirds. The bass is the lowest note, which might be the root, third, or fifth.

A triad is in “root position” when the root is the lowest note, “first inversion” when the third of the chord is the lowest note, and “second inversion” when the fifth of the chord is the lowest note.

Subsection 6.3.1 "Slash" Chords

In lead-sheet notation, an inverted chord has the triad before the slash (/) and the bass note after it. “\(\left.\text{C}\middle/\text{E}\right.\)” means a \(\text{C}\) triad with an \(\text{E}\) as the lowest note. Therefore, a slash chord has a bass note that is not the root of the chord. In fact, it is possible to have slash chords where the bass note is not one of the chord tones (e.g., \(\left.\text{C}\middle/\text{F}^{♯}\right.\)).

Remember, in a slash chord, the first letter you see represents the root of the chord. The letter after the slash is the lowest note (the bass).

Lead-sheet Symbol Root of Chord Notes in the Chord Bass Note (Lowest Note)
\(\left.\text{F}\middle/\text{A}\right.\) \(\text{F}\) \(\text{F}\)–\(\text{A}\)–\(\text{C}\) \(\text{A}\)
\(\left.\text{D}\text{m}\middle/\text{A}\right.\) \(\text{D}\) \(\text{D}\)–\(\text{F}\)–\(\text{A}\) \(\text{A}\)
\(\left.\text{G}^{\circ}{}\middle/\text{D}^{♭}\right.\) \(\text{G}\) \(\text{G}\)–\(\text{B}^♭\)–\(\text{D}^♭\) \(\text{D}^♭\)
\(\left.\text{C}{+}\middle/\text{G}^{♯}\right.\) \(\text{C}\) \(\text{C}\)–\(\text{E}\)–\(\text{G}^♯\) \(\text{G}^♯\)