Lesson video

In progress...



My name is Miss Charatan.

Welcome to this lesson all about, how can chord sequences be like a puzzle.

We are going to do a little bit of singing today.

So we're going to have a very short singing warm-up.

So let's just begin with a body warm up.

You're just going to roll your shoulders, back like this, and shoulders forward again.

And I want you to bunch your shoulders fully up to your face and screw your face up.

And relax.

Do it again.

And relax.

Shake your right hand and your left hand.

Up, down.


And we're now going to warm up our breath.

So you're going to breathe in and you're going to breath out to a 'shh'.

for eight beats.

So you need to make sure your breath is lasting long enough.

So breathing in, and out for eight.

Four, five, keep going, six, seven, eight.

And now we're going to breathe in again and it's time for 12.

One, two, three, four, five, make sure you're doing that 'shh'.

Eight, nine, 10, 11, 12.


Make sure now that you are probably putting less air through your mouth, 'cause we're going to now go for 16 beats.

Are we ready? So deep breath in.

Make sure you're sitting up lovely and straight, with shoulders at back.

We're nice and relaxed.

Breathing in, and.

Two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16.

Well done if you go that far.


A little bit of voice.

So we're just going to do a very quick one.

Doing a lip trill.

If you can't do that, then roll your eyes.

If you can't do either, do the lip trill.

I can't roll my eyes.

You need to be really, really relaxed.

Almost like that.

And that's how you can get your lip trill.

You're going to go all the way far down, up from your lowest part of your voice.

All the way up to the highest and back down again.

Do that one more time.

Make sure you're doing it now.

Otherwise your voice is going to be a little quirky.

You do a few more times.

Pause the video if you need more time, otherwise let's get on with the lesson.

Let's see what equipment we need.

For this lesson, you will need a piece of paper, a pencil, an instrument or app.

I really like Virtual Piano.

You can find that on iPhones and if you have an Android phone, you can have something very similar to search for it.

So yeah, this is what Virtual Piano looks like.

It's pretty good.

And lastly, Digital Audio Workstation.

That is optional.

You might choose to use one for the end of the lesson and that could be BandLab for education or something like GarageBand.

Pause the video now, go and get the things you need and come back when you're ready.


Let's move on.

So, we have got a busy lesson today.

We're going to start by recapping the knowledge of chords.

We're going to learn how to label notes of a chord.

We will then learn about and play some chord inversions.

That's where your instruments or app comes in.

We'll explore what is meant by voice leading.

So we will be using our voices then.

And lastly you're going to create your own chord sequence with inversions.

We'll find out what they are.

So let's recap our knowledge of chords first.

So, what is a chord? Choose the correct boxes from the ones below.

Chord is, we're going to have to give the answer now.

Two or more pitches played the same time.

Well done.

How many pitches are in a triad? Are you not sure? Look at that word.

Look at 'tri'.

Triangle, tricycle.


If you said three, you're correct.

Well done.

And how can you work out how to pay a triad on a keyboard? If you said, press one, miss one and press one you are completely correct.

Well done.

So your first task is to work out all of these triads and then play them on a keyboard.

You can do this real or virtually.

So remember to work at a chord and we first look at the name of the chord.

So C major.

Our first note of our chord is going to be C.

So then we press one and then we miss out the next note.

And that leaves us with.

We miss out that one.

Then we have E.

We do the same.

We miss out F and then we have G.

So that is our C major triad.

You have got five chords remaining to work out.

You're going to work them out, play them on the keyboard, write them down to check your answers.

Pause the video now.

Take five minutes and resume when you're ready.


Let's check your answers.

So, they're all written below.

Pause the video, check you've got them all correct and resume when you're ready.

Well done for that task.

We have recapped our knowledge of chords so quickly.

Well done.

And we're now going to learn how to label the notes of a chord.

Let's remember how we number a scale.

So a scale is a set of musical notes, musical pitches.

And there are degrees of the D, C major scale.

So the first degree is C, the second is D, the thirds is E and we go up all the way up to the C on top.

So what are the numbers of the pitches in a C major triad? So remember, our C major triad was, C, E and G.

So C, would be one.

It would be called the root.

E, would be the third degree of the scale.

And we'd call it the third.

G, is the fifth degree of the scale, and we called it a fifth.

So triads are made up of a root, a third, and a fifth.

We number the root third and fifth from looking at the whole scale.

So looking now at all the chords, we can see we do exactly the same thing.

So the bottom here, I've got the chord name.

So C major, E minor, et cetera.

The chord name is the same as the root.

So we take the first letter of the chord name.

So whether that's D minor, we take D and that is the root position.

The root.

The third is then we miss out two, and then we have three, which is the third.

Then we miss one, and then we press one and that's the fifth.

So triads are the root, the third and the fifth.

You are now going to pause the video and practise labelling notes of a chord.

There are three questions here.

Writing them down on a piece of paper.

And if you do it really quickly, you can go on to those stretch questions underneath.

Pause the video and resume when you're ready.

This should take you about three minutes.


Let's now check our work.

So, the root of G major is G, because it is the first note and it's actually the same as the chord name.

The third of A minor is, C.

The fifth of F major and the third of A minor is also C.

So these notes, these pitches, can be in more than one chord as we have seen.

And this will be really useful when we talk about harmony.

So which pitch tells us whether a chord is major or minor? That was my example there.

It is the third, tells us whether something is major or minor.

So I've changed the third there.

Which are the two most important notes in a chord and why do we think this is? So I'm going to give you some options.

Is it the root and the fifth? Is it third and the fifth? Is it a root and a third? The correct answer is the root and the third.

So these are slightly more important 'cause the root tells us, that's home.

That's what chord it is.

And the third tells us whether it's major or minor.

So now we're going to do a bit of oral training.

I'm going to come back.

Here we go.

So I'm going to play you a chord and you are going to tell me what note is missing.

Is it the root? Is it the third? Or is it that fifth? So here's my first one.

I'm going to play you both complete chords.

And then I just take away a note.

So I'm going to do this one more time.

Cause it's our first one.

So I'm going to play the complete chord.

Then I'm going to take away a chord.

Take away a pitch.

So the note that was missing was, E.

The third was missing.

How about the next one? What note is missing? Complete.


The correct answer was, E.

Well done if you got that one correct.

How about this one? G major, complete.




We were missing the root note, which was G.

Will just have the two top notes there, talk to your pitches.

Then F major.

Which note is missing? Complete.


The correct answer was A, that was missing.

And it means that we don't know whether this chord is major or minor.

We just don't know.

Doesn't sound major, doesn't sound minor.

How about D minor? Which pitch is missing? Complete.


The F was missing.

So again, the third was missing.

And we didn't know whether it was major or minor.

Last one, E minor.



Try again.


And missing.

The one that was missing was the fifth, which was B.

Well done if you got all these correct.

Oral training is really, really challenging, and it does come with practise.

So don't worry if you didn't many correct there.

It will come up with practise.

So we've done how to look at what notes are missing and how we label pitches in a chord.

We're now going to learn about and play chord inversions.

So, as we said, triads are made up of three pitches.

The root, the third, and the fifth.

Now what would happen if we changed the order of the pitches in the triad? So for example, having the E on the bottom instead.

So rather than having C on the bottom.

You can change it again.

You are going to complete this task on a keyboard.

So it could be a real keyboard or a virtual keyboard.

And you are going to play the rearranged pitches of this triad.

So it will be E on the bottom and then a G on the bottom.

What does it sound like? Does it matter that they're in a different order? Why or why not? I'm going to demonstrate to you how to play these on the keyboard now.

So to play the notes in a different order, first is to find my C major triad.

So I find my C, two is.

to the left of the two black keys.

Press one, press one, press one.

Press one, press one.

There's my C chord.

Now, all I need to do is move this C up to the top.

So I'm left with this in the bottom.

I'm going to make my fingers up.

And then the C is up here.

And I did the same, move this one, up to here.

So, the inversions are like this.

Pause the video now to complete your task.


So let's now think about what happens if we change the order of the pitchers in the triad.


We had our triad with C at the bottom.

That is a C major triad.

If we have it with an E at the bottom.

It's still a C major triad.

If we have it with a G at bottom.

It's still a C major triad.

Because the three pitches are the same, it remains the same triad.

There's no other triad that has the notes, C, E and G.

Believe me, there are similar triads, but then none of it that have C, E and G.

So these are chord inversions, playing the notes, playing the pitches of a chord in a different order.

So we've already tried out the inversions of C major because we played the pitches in a different order.

So we had G at the bottom here.

We had E at the bottom here.

These are both inversions.

G at the bottom, and E at the bottom.

You're now going to try out inversions of some different chords.

So let's take F major.

So F major reposition has F at the bottom.

How do you find two inversions by moving a pitch to the bottom of the chords.

So move A to the bottom of the chords and move C to the bottom of the chord.

You are then going to write out and colour code the pictures that I have done.

The root, the third and the fifth.

I'm going to demonstrate this to you now.

So you know exactly what to do.

So we find our F major triad.

So we find our F being counted from C, D, E, F.

Use our play one, miss one, press one.

And then what we need to do is move a note to the bottom.

So for example, I might move my C to the bottom here.

This is the C.

I might move my A to the bottom.

Now, move this A to the bottom here.

Pause the video now to complete your task.

Well done.

Let's now check our answers.

So you should have found an inversion with C at the bottom.

So C up and A.

As well as one with A at the bottom.

A, C and F.

Make sure you've colour coded those pictures correctly.

Pause the video if you need to correct your work.

We're now going to do the same thing with the A minor chord.

Creating two inversions by moving a pitch to the bottom of the chord.

If you need a demonstration for this, go back to the F major one, 'cause it will be very, very similar to this one.

Pause the video, complete the task, take three minutes.

And resume when you're ready.


Let's check our answers.

So you should have had E at the bottom.

So E, A and C, color-coded like so, and then the third, C at the bottom.

C, E and A.

So it's really clear, we can have a choice of three notes at the bottom really.

We can have the root at the bottom, the third at the bottom or the fifth at the bottom.

So now we're going to test ourselves in a different way.

So I've got some inversions below and you're going to spot which triads they are.

So for example, F, D and A is D, F, A, which is D minor.

I've worked this out by looking for triads on my table below, which contain the notes F, D, and A.

So I'll work my way up from the very beginning, C, E and G.

Not that one.

Then the next one, D, F and A.

Oh, that's the same note.

So that is D minor.

You're going to do the same thing with questions, one, two, and three.

Pause the video, answer these questions and resume when you're ready to check your answers.

This should take you about three minutes.


Let's check our work.

So, the triad from the pitches, E, G, and C was C major.

C, F and A was F major.

G, D and B, G major.

Excellent work if you got those three correct.

You're not quite sure, and want to do them again.

Go back and check your work one more time.

So why do we bother using inversions? They do seem very difficult to work out.

However, when we are playing triads on a keyboard, it can be really difficult to move from one to another.

You might have found that already.

It also doesn't sound very good.

So this is why we use inversions.

I'm going to play you some chords in two ways.

One way with no inversions and one way with inversions.

Can you hear what is different between them? So here's the way with no inversions.

And here's the version with inversions.

What do you notice about the two versions of these chords? So you might have noticed that when I play with no inversions there was more leaps between the chords.

So I went from C being the root here.

Then I went down to A.

So I had to jump a small distance.

Then I had to jump again to go to F.

And then I did move up by step here.

So my root note went like this.

So two leaps.

With inversions, it looks and sounds quite different.

So the note at the bottom of my chord, is C.

But my next chord, I still have C at the bottom.

With my next chord, I still have C on the bottom.

And then I move everything up by one step, to D.

So the note on the bottom of my chord, is C, C, C, D.

It actually stays the same and there's very little movement between the chords.

This means it's really nice and smooth to play.

I'm now going to show you what this looks like on the keyboard.

So this is the chord sequence from "Shotgun".

And I'm going to play it to you with no inversions and with inversion.

So now you can look and hear the difference between the two ways of playing.

So here it is without inversions.

And here it is with inversions.

So as you can see, when I played with inversions, most of my fingers stayed still because my thumb was on C for three of the chords.

And then I only had to move one note.

So actually that's the same with many of my other fingers.

So it was much, much more still and much smoother.

You're now going to have a go at paying some inversions.

So you're going to move between two chords.

You going to move between them without inversions, in the normal way and then you're going to move with inversions.

If you find this very easy, then you can then think of as many ways as possible to move between the two chords.

And as you're playing, can you be thinking about what are the benefits of paying inversions? I can think of two main ones.

So I'm now going to demonstrate to you how you can play an inversion and what fingers to use on the keyboard.

Use this page to help you play the correct pitches in the correct order.

Being really, really careful what note is at the bottom of your chord.

So to move between two chords, without inversions, I just need to play the two triads.

So we have G minor, G major first.

And then I moved up to.

Down to C.

We can move actually up to C.

So have a go at at doing that quite quickly and see how quick you can move between them.

So to play the inversion, you can read what is on the screen.

And readable order to move.

To put the note the pitch is in.

So I'm going to start with my G major chord.

And on the screen you will see that my G actually stays the same with my thumb.

And my other two fingers move up.

So I've still got C, E and G.

Just in a different order.

Now you can have a go at playing them, see how quickly you can play between the two chords versus without inversions.

Pause the video now to.

Pause the video now to complete your task.

You should take about two minutes for this and resume when you are ready.

Thinking about the two benefits of playing inversions.


Well done.

Let's now look at a different chord sequence.

So moving from E minor to G major.

I'd like you to do exactly the same thing.

This time with a different chord sequence.

I'm now going to demonstrate this to you on the keyboard.

So the first play without inversions is E minor.

Moving up to G major.

The second way.

These chords have two notes in common.

These two notes.

G and B.

They're going to stay in the same place.

All we're going to do is move my thumb down.

So I'm going to use one, three and five here.

And I'm going to just move my thumb down one note.

And that is your inversion.

Pause the video to complete this task and resume when you are ready.

It should take you about three minutes.


So what are the two benefits of playing inversions? So I could find two.

Firstly, they sound much, much better.

It's much smoother and much less jerky.

For example.

Sounds so much better than.

And it sounds professional.

They're also much, much easier to play because we don't have to move around our hands and fingers as much.

So what is an inversion? Choose the correct answer now.

If you said, playing the pitches of a chord in a different order, you are correct.

Well done.

How do we label the three pitches in a triad? If you said, root 3rd and 5th, you were correct.

The reason why we don't use Roman numerals, so i, iii, v, is because they are for chords.

So it gets confusing.

We're talking about degrees of the scale and notes and pitches of the chords.

So we use root, 3rd and 5th to label them.

Which of these is an F major triad in inversion? You might want to look in the worksheet or scroll back to your C major chord.


I'm going to give you your answer.

Now, pause, if you need more time.

So the correct answer is C, F, A.

Those are all the pitches in the F major triad.

So another quick quiz on your keyboard or on your app, you're going to create as many inversions of a key major triad, as you can.

By experimenting, by having different pitches at the bottom.

I would like to see if you can beat me in how many I could find.

Pause the video, resume when you're ready.

Take about two minutes for this task.


Let's see what you got.

So these are the ones I got.

Did you get these ones? However, there's actually three main ones.

So one with a G on the bottom, one with a D on the bottom, and one with a B on the bottom.

Pause the video for a moment and decide which of these are easiest to play.

So try them out on your app or your keyboard.

Which one's the easiest to play? And come back when you are ready.

So these ones, I used to play so normal, G, B and D not inversion, then D, G, and B, and B, D and G our easiest.

The other ones, they're very spread out.

And it's too difficult to play with one hand.

You might notice that.

So that's why these are the three main inversions we use.

You have done such a great job so far.

We have learned all about inversions and now we're going to use this knowledge to explore what is meant by voice leading.

So let's recap.

What are the two benefits of playing inversions? Firstly, they sound better.

And secondly, they're easier to play.

We're moving less.

So I like to think of chords as really, really lazy people.

Like the person on the sofa right now.

He doesn't want to move because otherwise everything is going to fall off.

Chords don't want to move because it's so much more effort.

So chords are lazy and we don't want to move very much, when we play them.

So when we think about voice leading, we need to think about the notes of the chords as individual voices or parts in a choir.

So we're going to have a go at singing each of the parts of the chords.

We're going to sing all the root notes.

We're going to sing all the thirds and we're going to to sing the top notes.

So let's begin with this way.

So this is not an inversion.

They're root notes.

♪ C ♪ ♪ A ♪ ♪ F ♪ ♪ G ♪ So can you see that with me? You might want to do it higher.

One, two, three, four.

♪ C ♪ ♪ A ♪ ♪ F ♪ ♪ G ♪ Let's now look at the thirds.

So, let's sing with me.

I'm going to do it first and then you're going to do it second.

♪ E ♪ ♪ C ♪ ♪ A ♪ ♪ B ♪ Now let's look at the fifths.

Oh, I've got to do it with me.

Do it this time with me.

Two, three, four.

♪ E ♪ ♪ C ♪ ♪ A ♪ ♪ B ♪ And now let's sing the fifths.

Up here.

So, I will sing first and then you sing with me the second time.

♪ G ♪ ♪ E ♪ ♪ C ♪ ♪ D ♪ What do we think? Was this easy or was it difficult to sing? I would argue it was a bit tricky 'cause we have quite a few leaps.

We didn't have much stepwise movement.

Let's now put the chords in inversion.

So now we have got a bottom line, a middle line and the top line.

We're going to sing them all, and you're going to tell me, are they easier or more difficult to sing? So let's start with the first line.

♪ C ♪ I think you could actually do this without me doing it first.

So you're just going to sing with me.

Two, three, four.

♪ C ♪ ♪ C ♪ ♪ C ♪ ♪ D ♪ Let's now go for the second line again.

I think this is pretty easy so I think I'm going to do it.

But we can do it together first time.

So we're just going up by step.

Two, three, four.

♪ E ♪ ♪ E ♪ ♪ F ♪ ♪ G ♪ And now we're going to go for the top line.

This might be a bit high for you, so you could go lower.

♪ G ♪ ♪ Down here ♪ ♪ Or G up there, I'm going to do it up here ♪ Two, three, four.

♪ G ♪ ♪ A ♪ ♪ A ♪ ♪ B ♪ What did we think? I want you to ignore whether it was a little bit high or low for you.

Was it easier or more difficult to sing the inversions than the chords before? So I would argue it is much, much easier because they were moving by step.

So this is what voice leading is all about.

It's the way the individual voices move from chord to chord.

So we have three voices in a chord.

One voice, second voice, third voice.

And they are all going to be moving to another chord.

So the best voice leading is when we move by step, and poor voice leading is when there're wide leaps.

And this actually just comes from.

It's hard to sing a big leap.

It's much, much easier to sing this by step.

And actually a lot of the songs you probably enjoy singing are ones that move by step.

So the first example on the left.

This is really bad voice leading because I've got a really big leap.

So I'm moving my bottom line.

♪ C ♪ ♪ A ♪ ♪ E ♪ ♪ C ♪ It's a really big leap and that's hard to sing, and it's bad voice leading.

However, if I changed it and put it in inversion.

We can see that two of the pitches remain exactly the same.

They don't move, the bottom line and the middle line.

And the top line just moves ♪ G to A ♪ So that is an example of good voice leading.

So we're now going to do a voice leading puzzle because chords and movement is all like.

It's just like a puzzle.

So you're going to change from the first chord to the second chord by only moving one pitch each time.

I'm going to do the first one with you.

And then you're going to do the last three by yourself.

So A minor and C major.

The first thing we need to do is write down the pitches of these chords.

So A minor is A, C, and E.

C major is C, E and A.

They both have two notes, two pitches in common.

What are they? If you said C and E, you're correct.

So C and E are going to stay the same.

All I need to do is move from A to G.

I could put the A on top.

Or I could put it on the bottom.

And that creates a really smooth inversion.

I only need to move G so therefore that is really good voice leading.

So you're now going to do the same thing with the other three chords.

You are going to find the notes of the chords, the pitches of F major, what are the pitches D minor, what are the pitches.

Then you're going to choose one note that you need to move and then write it down.

Pause the video to complete this one.

I think it should take you about two minutes.

You can use the keyboard to help you.


Let's check your answers.

So you should have moved the D.

So the C needs to move to a D and F and A stay exactly the same.

Or you could have always put the D and the C underneath.

If you haven't completed the questions, three and four, pause the video now and complete them and then we'll go over the answers.

If you have completed them already, let's check your answers and correct them.

So, number three.

The correct answer should be the E moves to the D And then G and B stay the same.

Check that work now.

And the last one, F major to A minor.

So they share A and C.

So the F moves to E A and C sound the same.

Well done if you got all of these correct.

It's a challenging puzzle, and definitely more difficult if you're not a comfortable keyboard player.

So well done for giving a really good go.

So when we're thinking about voice leading, we need to be thinking about the four things.

What are the fewest pitches I need to move from one chord to another.

So how could I be the most lazy? Can I sing each part easily? So sometimes if you are writing a piece, you might want to actually sing the bottom note in each chord.

Does it move really smoothly? Can I sing it? Is it easy to play? Can I play it on the keyboard or my instrument? If you can, probably it's quite good voice leading.

And does it sound good using your ears? Does it sound pleasant to me? So we've explored voice leading and inversions.

And we're now going to use this knowledge to correct your own chord sequence with inversions.

We're just going to start by creating a chord progression.

You may have done this before.

If you haven't, don't worry.

I'll take you through it very briefly now.

Now you should probably start with a C major triad because we're in C major.

And then choose three other chords that sound good and put them in the boxes.

You'll have a worksheet that looks very similar to this, or you can draw out a table yourself.

You're now going to pause the video to complete your task.

It should be taking only three minutes because you've probably done this before and resume when you're finished.

Don't worry about inversions yet.


Once you have got your chord sequence, we're now going to be thinking about how to put it in inversions.

You can draw out a keyboard yourself or use an app to help you.

You're now going to decide, how can you move from one chord to another using the fewest notes possible? Using the fewest changes possible.

So, for example, if my first chord was C and my second chord was A minor, I would probably want to keep the C and E in the same place and just from C to A.

Obviously your chords are going to look different.

So I can't help you exactly with your own chords.

You might want to rewind the video to look at some other examples of how to move to help you.

So you're now going to decided and write down your inversions, either on a keyboard or writing down the notes themselves, the letters, so you can play and sing it smoothly.

Pause the video.

This should take you five minutes to decide on your inversions and resume when you are ready.


You're now going to go through this checklist.

So have you moved the fewest pitches possible? Can you sing each part? Is it easy to play and does it sound good? Pause the video and go back over your inversions in your chord sequence to check your work.

You've done a great job so far.

Inversions are so challenging, and it's really impressive that you've managed to create a chord sequence with inversions already.

So I'd now like you to share your work with somebody.

This could be to somebody at home.

You could show them your chord sequence and teach it to them in inversions and see how much easier they find it when they play it that way.

Or you could record it into a digital audio, workstation, such as GarageBand or BandLab for education, and send it to somebody.

I'm not going to demonstrate that with you today, because it's near the end of our lesson now.

We won't have very much time.

But if you choose to do that, you probably already know how to do it.

Pause the video now, share your work with somebody or in some way and resume when you're ready.

Fantastic work on your sharing.

We're now going to go back to our key question.

How can chord sequences be like a puzzle? Pause the video, fill in the blanks and resume when you're ready to check your answers.


Let's check our work.

So number one, A triad has three pitches, a root a third and fifth.

An inversion is when you put these pitches in a different order.

We use inversions to make the chords easier to play.

We need to think carefully about voice leading.

The way that individual voices moved from chord to chord.

And when we choose inversions, we need to work out the puzzle.

What are the fewest notes we need to change to get to the next chord? Great job if you got all of these, correct.

Well done.

Great job on inversions today.

Don't forget to click on and complete the quiz to show what great stuff you have been learning.

Or so why not try out playing inversions in other songs that you know.

You could even look up online, a tutorial and play that with inversions to make it so much easier for you.

Take care and see you next time.