• Fourth Voicings Every Jazz Pianist Must Not Be Without

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Jazz music,Piano

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    In this lesson, we’ll be learning essential fourth voicings every jazz pianist must not be without.

    The use of fourths in jazz harmony gained wide acceptance in the 60s with players like Bill Evans doing phenomenal things with fourth voicings. One of the notable fourth voicings in history is the So What chord, which is a voicing of the D minor eleventh chord:

    If you think the voicing above is interesting, then you have to dedicate the next 10 minutes or so to learn several other essential fourth voicings.

    A Short Note On Fourth Voicings

    Voicing is the consideration of the notes of a chord as voices and the rearrangement of the notes using rearrangement techniques known as voicing techniques.

    The notes of the C major ninth chord:

    …can be considered as voices; consequently, it can be rearranged using voicing techniques. The voicing technique we are focusing on is the fourth voicing technique which is associated with the rearrangement of the notes of a chord in fourth intervals.

    Fourth Intervals – Explained

    A fourth interval is a product of the distance between two notes that are four scale tones or letter names apart from each other. For example, the interval “C-F” is a fourth interval because of the four scale tones (C, D, E, and F) or letter names between C and F.

    Due to the fact that C and F are a fourth apart from each other, the following are all fourth intervals…

    C and F:

    …which is a perfect fourth.

    C and Fb:

    …which is a diminished fourth.

    C and F#:

    …which is an augmented fourth.

    Although fourth intervals are used in the rearrangement of chords to produce fourth voicings, the perfect fourth and augmented fourth are commonly used.

    Attention: The augmented fourth interval is the tritone.

    The perfect fourth interval is a stable fourth interval that forms stable fourth voicings while the augmented fourth interval (aka – “tritone”) is used in the formation of unstable fourth voicings.

    Fourth Voicings For Major, Minor, And Dominant Chords

    Let’s go ahead and learn fourth voicings for regularly used chord types: the major, minor, and dominant chords.

    Major Voicings

    Major voicings can be applied on the 1st and 4th tones in the major key. We’ll be learning 5 major voicings using the C note as the root note reference.

    Voicing #1:

    …the C 6/9 chord.

    Voicing #2:

    …the C 6/9 chord.

    Voicing #3:

    …the C 6/9 chord.

    Voicing #4:

    …the C major ninth (add 13th) chord.

    Voicing #5:

    …the C major ninth (add 13th) chord.

    Minor Voicings

    Minor voicings are applicable on the second, third, and sixth degrees of the scale. Here are minor voicings that can be used against the second tone of the scale (which is D). You’ll do well to transpose them to the chord of the third and sixth degrees.

    Voicing #1:

    …the D minor 11th chord.

    Voicing #2:

    …the D minor 11th chord.

    Voicing #3:

    …the D minor 11th chord

    Voicing #4:

    …the D minor eleventh chord.

    Voicing #5:

    …the D minor eleventh chord.

    Dominant Voicings

    Voicing #1:

    …the G dominant 9th chord.

    Voicing #2:

    …the G dominant 13th (add 9th) chord.

    Voicing #3:

    …the G dominant 13th (add 9th) chord.

    Voicing #4:

    …the G dominant 9th chord.

    Final Words

    I’m doubly sure that you’ve added a few chords to your chordal vocabulary. I strongly recommend that you practice these voicings and try to move them all around the keyboard.

    See you in the next lesson.

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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