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  • Chord Inversions vs. Drop-2 Voicings

    I have yet to find a clear, concise explanation of the difference between chord inversions and drop-2 voicings. There seems to be plenty of overlap between the two concepts, right? Can someone please enlighten me?!?!
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  • #2
    what's a drop 2 voicing?
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    <img src="images/misc/quote_icon.png" alt="Quote" /> Originally Posted by <strong>Yarbicus</strong>
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    <img src="images/misc/quote_icon.png" alt="Quote" /> Originally Posted by <strong>Yarbicus</strong>
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    <img src="images/misc/quote_icon.png" alt="Quote" /> Originally Posted by <strong>CountGrishnackh</strong>
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    • #3
      A voicing is a generic term for how a chord is played (meaning the arrangement of notes).
      The following are four of many possible voicings for Bmin7B5:
      B D F A
      B D F A B
      B F A B D
      B A B D F
      * The above are also considered to be in root-position (an inversion specific description) because the root is the lowest note *

      Common voicings are:
      Closed (all notes within an octave) - common for triads
      Open (notes span more than an octave) - common for triads
      Drop-2 - common for 7th chords, this term not commonly used for triads
      Drop-3 - common for 7th chords, this term not commonly used for triads
      Drop-2&4 - common for 7th chords, this structure not possible for triads

      The following are some drop-2 voicings for Bmin7b5:
      B F A D
      D A B F
      F B D A
      A D F B
      * these are also different inversions since the lowest note is not always the B (root note).

      The inversion designation describes the lowest note but not the rest of the voicing. So anytime you play any voicing of Bmin7b5 over a B bass - it's in root position. If you played any Bmin7b5 voicing over a D bass it would be said to be in the "1st inversion" as a generic structure or Bmin7b5/D as a specific inversion of Bmin7b5. If you played any Bmin7b5 voicing over a F bass it would be said to be in the "2nd inversion" as a generic structure or Bmin7b5/F as a specific inversion of Bmin7b5. If you played any Bmin7b5 voicing over a A bass it would be said to be in the "3rd inversion" as a generic structure or Bmin7b5/A as a specific inversion of Bmin7b5.

      Confused yet?

      Inversion:
      Root Position - root is in the bass
      1st Inversion - 2nd chord tone (from spelling) / most often the 3rd of the chord - in the bass
      2nd Inversion - 3rd chord tone (from spelling) / the 5th of the chord - in the bass
      3rd Inversion - 4th chord tone (from spelling) / most often the 7th of the chord - in the bass

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      • #4
        Common Voicings for a C maj triad (using the CAGED system) are:

        x32010 = x C E G C E (root position)
        x35553 = x C G C E G (root position)
        335553 = G C G C E G (2nd inversion / 5th in the bass aka C/G)
        xx555x = x x G C E x (2nd inversion closed triad voicing aka C/G)
        x7555x = x E G C E x (1st inversion / 3rd in the bass aka C/E)
        87555x = C E B C E x (root position)
        87xx88 = C E x x G C (root position open triad voicing)
        ** there are many more but this should give you an idea of how to find / form them **

        * you may want to go through a fretboard map of C maj triad to see all the various ways you could play a C maj triad - thus finding all the voicings and all the inversions at one time.

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        • #5
          Look at this... If you scroll down you'll see a page of Drop-2 chords with their inversions.
          http://soundslikejoe.com/?product=a-guitarist-study-for-drop-chords

          I'm giving the book away this month. Just use the coupon "FreeBook" during checkout and you can download the PDF. All that I ask in return is that you use the book and provide me some feedback about the book.

          Hope it helps. :thu:
          <div class="signaturecontainer">About<b></b>: <a href="http://www.soundslikejoe.com/" target="_blank">http://www.soundslikejoe.com/</a> <br />
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          • #6
            Most 7th chords on guitar are drop voicings of some kind, because the tuning doesn't allow close voicing in most inversions. Eg

            D7
            -2- F#
            -1- C
            -2- A
            -0- D
            -x-
            -x-

            = 2nd inversion, drop 2.

            Close-voiced 2nd inversion would be:
            F#
            D
            C
            A

            "Drop 2" means take the 2nd note down (D) and drop it an octave. That gives you the easy guitar shape.

            Here's another:

            -1- F
            -0- B
            -0- G
            -0- D
            -x-
            -x-

            = G7, root position drop 2.

            Close-voiced root position is just playable on guitar:
            -1- F
            -3- D
            -4- B
            -5- G
            -x-
            -x-

            - but much easier to drop the D by an octave.

            IOW, the limitations of guitar mean we are forced to use drop voicings sometimes (without knowing it), while others may not be possible. There is not the freedom there is with piano, or groups of horns etc.
            Also, of course, we are commonly either doubling up some chord tones - to fill extra strings out, for easier playing - or omitting chord tones such as root or 5th (for jazz comping), let alone adding 9ths, 13ths, whatever. I've always though drop voicings are - therefore - of little interest for guitarists (unless they're arranging for other instruments of course). We have other fish to fry...

            Inversions are another matter, and it's good to know inversions - in various open or close voicings ("drop" or not) - to make chord changes smoother or introduce melodic bass lines.
            ...

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            • #7
              Look at this... If you scroll down you'll see a page of Drop-2 chords with their inversions.
              http://soundslikejoe.com/?product=a-guitarist-study-for-drop-chords

              I'm giving the book away this month. Just use the coupon "FreeBook" during checkout and you can download the PDF. All that I ask in return is that you use the book and provide me some feedback about the book.

              Hope it helps. :thu:

              this is great! there's a whole lot of music that opens up just by learning the voicings on the top 4 strings. they also work nicely for arpeggio stuff.
              so much great stuff, learn the inversions for Cmaj7, Emin7 and Amin7 and you now have 12 different choices for voicing a Cmaj with some juicey extensions :thu:

              back in high school i learned all these by practicing maj/min 2-5-1s in all keys all up and down the neck.

              I never bothered too much with drop-2s on the A-D-G-B strings because I found some of them to be a bit too stretchy for my hands.
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              • #8
                I have yet to find a clear, concise explanation of the difference between chord inversions and drop-2 voicings. There seems to be plenty of overlap between the two concepts, right? Can someone please enlighten me?!?!


                All Drop-2 chords are inversions. All inversions are not Drop-2 chords.

                Capisce?
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                • #9
                  They are also a genre of voicing.
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                  • #10
                    Look at this... If you scroll down you'll see a page of Drop-2 chords with their inversions.
                    http://soundslikejoe.com/?product=a-guitarist-study-for-drop-chords

                    I'm giving the book away this month. Just use the coupon "FreeBook" during checkout and you can download the PDF. All that I ask in return is that you use the book and provide me some feedback about the book.

                    Hope it helps. :thu:


                    Great book Joe! Thanks for the freebie.
                    To the OP you should certainly grab Joes book as it will help
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                    • #11
                      Thanks Jeremy! I put a lot of time into that one when I was studying the Drop chord systems. Writing stuff down always helps me when practicing new things.
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                      • #12
                        I've always though drop voicings are - therefore - of little interest for guitarists (unless they're arranging for other instruments of course). We have other fish to fry...



                        Interesting Jon. Not sure I understand but do you feel this way because you want to include upper extensions?
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                        • #13
                          Interesting Jon. Not sure I understand but do you feel this way because you want to include upper extensions?
                          Maybe. I'm just thinking about creating shapes that work well together, getting the guide tones flowing where necessary, maybe putting a melody on top or bass line beneath, etc, and getting all the shapes to fit under my fingers reasonably comfortably. What kind of voicings I'm playing is neither here nor there (IMO).

                          If I was arranging a solo chord melody piece, it might be different; but I still wouldn't think about what kind of voicings (specifically) I was using. I'd want melody and bass working well, and then whatever other chord tone(s) I could fit between, hopefully with some neat voice-leading. It would be possible to analyse it all in terms of drop voicings, but it seems beside the point.

                          Then again, if I was arranging for horns or keyboard, I'd would be free to use whichever voicings gave the sound I wanted, because there would be no limitation other than instrumental range (or finger reach for a keyboard player).
                          IOW, as I said, guitar is way too restricting an instrument (harmonically) to make it worthwhile thinking about different drop voicings. IMO, YMMV
                          ...

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                          • #14

                            Common voicings are:
                            Closed (all notes within an octave) - common for triads
                            Open (notes span more than an octave) - common for triads
                            Drop-2 - common for 7th chords, this term not commonly used for triads
                            Drop-3 - common for 7th chords, this term not commonly used for triads
                            Drop-2&4 - common for 7th chords, this structure not possible for triads


                            In my experiences, both Drop 3 and drop 2 can be used as terms for triads. Drop 2 is typically called spread. Drop 3 is always called a drop 3 though.

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                            • #15
                              @JonR - Not to sound too confrontational but I find you assumptions to be wildly incorrect. I've transcribed dozens of tracks by most of the jazz guitar greats and they ALL use Drop chords extensively. Wes, Jim Hall, Joe Pass, etc. Knowing and using drop chords is jazz guitar 101. Voice leadings are smooth provided you know all your inversions.

                              If your playing a chord on four consecutive strings, it's most likely a Drop2 voicing. If you're skipping one string, like in a 6432 string set, you're playing a Drop3.....weather you realize it or not is more than likely the issue.
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