Digital Sound & Music: Concepts, Applications, & Science, Chapter 3, last updated 6/25/2013
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In a minor triad, the second note is a diatonic minor third above the root, and the third
note is a diatonic perfect fifth above the root. The minor triads for the keys of C, F, and A are
shown in root position in Figure 3.31.
Figure 3.31 Minor triads in root position
Chords can be inverted by changing the root note. In the first inversion, the root note is
moved up an octave. In the second inversion, the mediant of the key becomes the root and the
tonic is moved up an octave. In the third inversion, the dominant of the key becomes the root,
and both the mediant and tonic are moved up an octave. The first and inversions are shown in
Figure 3.32.
Figure 3.32 Inversions for major triad in key of C
A diminished triad has a root note followed by a minor third and a diminished fifth. An
augmented triad has a root note followed by a major third and an augmented fifth. The
diminished and augmented triads for the key of C are shown in Figure 3.33.
Figure 3.33 Diminished and augmented triads in key of C
We’ve looked at only triads so far. However, chords with four notes are also used,
including the major, minor, and dominant sevenths. The major seventh chord consists of the
root, major third, perfect fifth, and major seventh. The minor seventh consists of the root,
minor third, perfect fifth, and minor seventh. The dominant seventh consists of the root, major
third, perfect fifth, and minor seventh. Dominant chords have three inversions. The dominant
seventh for the key of C is shown with its inversions in Figure 3.34. (Note that B is flat in all the
inversions.)
Figure 3.34 Dominant seventh chords for the key of C
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