# Chord inversion (and voicing) naming

I'm studying chord inversions and have bumped into naming problems. As an example I'll be using the C# minor (tri)chord and its pitch classes ordered in a list like `[1, 4, 8]`, where a lower index denotes a lower note. In other words, the first pitch class in the list is the bass note; in this case it's the `1`.

As far as I can see from literature this is how we call the inversions:

``````pitch class list            | name
----------------------------|----------------------------
[1, 4, 8]                   | root position
[4, 8, 1]                   | first inversion
[8, 1, 4]                   | second inversion
``````

However, I'm unsure of the naming of the following:

``````pitch class list            | name
----------------------------|----------------------------
[1, 8, 4]                   | root position?
[4, 1, 8]                   | first inversion?
[8, 4, 1]                   | second inversion?
``````

These last three pitch class lists share the same bass notes as the first three lists above, but the non-bass tones are reversed. If they share the same inversion names, as suggested in Correct terminology for chord inversions, what are they called? Does e.g. `[8, 4, 1]` then have a name like "second inversion with first voicing inversion"?

• Have a look at 'drop chords'. Inversions only take note (!) of the lowest note .
– Tim
Jul 5, 2017 at 14:18
• I might be wrong but I don't think your numbering system for the notes is correct. I would number a major triad as 1, 3, 5 and a first inversion of a major triad as 3, 5, 8 (with 8 being 1 - an octave higher). A minor triad in first position would be 1, 3b, 5 by my way of thinking. Please clarify. Jul 5, 2017 at 18:00
• Be aware that you're trying to shoe-horn one system into another, and it doesn't work that way. In Set Theory, which is what you're using, inversions are handled very differently (and have a different definition) than triadic or functional harmony. In Set Theory, the actual notes don't matter; only the space (intervals) between them. Jul 6, 2017 at 11:03

`C# 1 - D 2 - D# 3 - E 4 - F 5 - F# 6 - G 7 - G# 8`
Rockin Cowboy is right. When describing chord inversions, you typically refer to each note by their interval relative to the root note. For the C# minor triad (C# E G#) in root position it can be described as `[1, 3, 5]` (the root, a 3rd from the root and a 5th from the root). eg: