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4-1 OVERVIEW

1. Second Inversion Triads.

a. The triad is in second inversion when the fifth of the triad is the bass note. The root and third of the triad are voiced above the fifth (Figure 4-1).

Figure 4-1. Second Inversion Triad

b. Second inversion triads are harmonically unstable. They tend to function more as decorations or links between other chords rather than actual chords in the basic harmonic progression.

2. Doubling of Second Inversion Triads.

Always double the fifth (bass note) of second inversion triads (Figure 4-2). The doubled note can be in any other voice.

Figure 4-2. Second Inversion Doubling

3. Figured Bass for Second Inversion Triads.

a. The numerals indicate a triad in second inversion (Figure 4-3).

Figure 4-3. Figured Bass Intervals

NOTE: The 4 represents the note the interval of a fourth above the bass note. That note a fourth above the bass note is the root of the triad. The 6 represents the note the interval a sixth above the bass note. That note is the third of the triad.

b. A second inversion triad can also be indicated by the numerals . The number 8 refers to the doubled bass note (Figure 4-4).

Figure 4-4. Complete Figured Bass

NOTE: Two sets of numerals can occur under the same bass note. Using correct part writing procedures, move the notes represented by the first set of numerals to the notes represented by the second set of numerals (Figure 4-5). Give each note one-half the rhythmic value of the bass note.

Figure 4-5. Two Sets of Bass Figures

c. Usually, only the appears under the bass note. The interval of the octave is understood because the bass note should always be doubled on a second inversion triad (Figure 4-6).

Figure 4-6. Second Inversion Figured Bass

NOTE: Second inversion triads are called six-four chords.

4. Analysis of Second Inversion Triads.

The Roman numeral indicates the scale degree upon which the chord is constructed (the root of the triad). In a second inversion chord, the bass note is not the root of the chord. However, you can determine the root of the chord from the bass note. Since the bass note is the fifth of the chord, the root is the interval of a fifth below (or a fourth above the bass note). The number 4 identifies the root of the chord (Figure 4-7).

Figure 4-7. Root Identification

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015