Inverting Intervals

Before reading this music theory lesson, please make sure you’re comfortable with the concept of generic intervals and specific intervals.

In music, inverting refers to the process of moving the bottom note from a specific group, up by an octave. When you invert an interval the new interval changes. This may sound complicated at first, but it’s actually not as these changes follow a certain set of simple rules as outlined below:

Inverting intervals

Inverting intervals

Let’s now look at an example of inverting intervals to clarify how these rules should be followed:

Example of inverting an interval

Example of inverting an interval

If you are familiar with the previous lesson, specific intervals, then you will be able to see that the interval before the inversion is a diminished fourth, as it is a fourth with 4 semitones difference. Now, according to the set of rules outlined in the first illustration, a fourth will always invert to a fifth and a diminished will always invert to an augmented. Therefore we can determine that if we invert a diminished fourth it’ll in fact end up as an augmented fifth.

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