Music Theory
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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.

 

alt

 

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).

 

alt

 

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Mark McFarland