Music Theory

Lesson 17


Seventh Chord Inversion and Figured Bass


Like triads, seventh chords can be inverted as well. Seventh chords use similar figured bass notation, although since they contain one extra chord member they have four different positions rather than three.




The root position seventh chord uses a third, fifth, and seventh above its root, and so its figured bass notation is alt . Since this is such a common position for the chord to appear in, however, the number 7 alone is the shorthand notation.  When the seventh chord is placed in first inversion, there is a third, fifth, and sixth above the bass voice (the chordal third), therefore the figured bass is alt (only the six and five are necessary).  Similarly, the figured bass for the second inversion seventh chord is alt (only the four and the three are necessary), while the figured bass notation for the third inversion seventh chord is alt (only the four and two are necessary).






© Copyright 2005

Mark McFarland