Are E1 A1 C2 and A1 C2 E2 chords the same and/or are in same tonality? I think that they have same sound quality by using same notes, but these are different chords as they have different intervals between notes.


2 Answers 2


I bet they sound quite muddy all the way down there! Usually sound better higher.

E, A and C are the notes which make up the chord known as A minor. Thus A, C and E also make A minor.

The difference is in the voicing. The first is known as 2nd inversion, the other, root position.

They will sound similar, as they have exactly the same note names, but the mix is slightly different. It isn't the difference in intervals between notes that make them different chords - they're the same chords! If you played A2, E4 and C6, that chord is still A minor, but different again. There are many different voicings, but all will contain A, C and E. On some instruments, same name notes in different octaves can be doubled, tripled. Guitar, for example - open E has no less than 3 E notes, but only one G#.


Both of your examples are A minor chords, but in different voicings. Since a triad is made of three notes, there are three possible ways to arrange those notes (or voices) in a single chord. The technical name for these different chord voicings are Chord Inversions.

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Regardless of how you arrange the voices in the Am triad, the chord remains Am, and therefore has the same tonality, or relationship to root and tonic. However, tonality is not the same things as “sound quality.” In fact, Voicing is the intentional arrangement of notes in a chord in order to vary its sound. Playing chord accompaniment in the same position can become predictable and boring. Using inversions gives the ear fresh twists, or different personalities, of the same chord.

Chord Inversions also enable the composer to emphasize different voices in the chord. For example, sometimes the melody is found at the top of the chord; at other times the role and direction of the bass player is defined by the bottom note of the chord.

Using inversions will also increase efficiency while playing chord changes (allowing your hands to stay in the same spot on your instrument) and help give you smoother voice-leading between chords in a progression.

Here are some good threads on the subject: 1. One 2. Two

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