The Bleak, Ominous Second-Inversion Minor Chord

Continuing our exhaustive (and perhaps exhausting) study of chord inversions and their practical applications in progressions, I’d like to cite some recognizable examples of interesting and musically effective ways in which successful pop songwriters have employed a second-inversion minor chord, which is a minor chord with its fifth in the bass. Like the first-inversion minor chord we looked at last time, second-inversion minor has a dark quality that, to me, sounds ominous and bleak, and which is probably why it isn’t used as commonly as its bright-and warm-sounding major counterpart. But in music, like any other art form, you need contrasts to tell an engaging story and make a powerful statement. Major chords, vanilla ice cream and blue skies alone won’t create drama.

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Jimmy Brown

Over the past 30 years, Jimmy Brown has built a reputation as one of the world's finest music educators, through his work as a transcriber and Senior Music Editor for Guitar World magazine and Lessons Editor for its sister publication, Guitar Player. In addition to these roles, Jimmy is also a busy working musician, performing regularly in the greater New York City area. Jimmy earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies and Performance and Music Management from William Paterson University in 1989. He is also an experienced private guitar teacher and an accomplished writer.