There are two basic chord formulas that we will cover in this lesson:
A chord consists of 3 notes. Therefore, it can be played in 3 different ways depending on what order those notes are placed.
In order for a chord to be considered a “C Major” chord, it has to consist of the notes C, E, and G. The order of notes determines the inversion of the chord:
The charts below show the correct fingering and placement for each inversion. The left hand is in blue, and the right hand is in red.
C major chord in root position:
C major chord in 1st inversion:
C major chord in 2nd inversion:
C major chord inversions on the staff, with fingerings:
Cadence chords are a great way to practice what we call the “primary” chords for a key. For a detailed explanation of the theory behind cadence chords, you can read this article. For now, it will suffice to just learn how to play them and get used to the patterns. Then you can go back and fill in the gaps in your music theory knowledge.
The following cadence chord charts show the fingering and positions for both hands.
The first, third, and final chord of the progression is your C major chord in root position which we have already covered. We refer to this chord with the roman numeral I:
The second chord is an F major chord in 2nd inversion, which we refer to as the roman numeral, IV:
(After playing this chord, return to the C root position (I) chord.)
The fourth chord is a G major chord in 1st inversion, which we refer to with the roman numeral, V:
The fifth chord is a G seven chord, which we refer to with the symbol, V7:
(After playing this chord, return to the C root position (I) chord to finish the progression.)
Here is the C major cadence chord progression on the staff, with fingerings: