• A Lesson On The Clustered Voicings Of Scale-Tone Chords

    in Chords & Progressions,Contemporary Music,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Urban Styles

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    If you’re interested in learning about the clustered voicing of scale-tone chords, you are on the right page.

    There are certain music styles were clustered voicings are used, just like Neo-soul. So, if you’re fascinated about the Neo-soul style and would love to enrich your chordal vocabulary with some clustered voicings like this:

    …then this lesson is for you.

    In the next 10 minutes or so, we’ll be covering clustered voicings. But before we do, let’s define clustered voicings for the sake of those who are just coming across the term clustered voicing for the first time.

    A Short Note On Clustered Voicings

    Before we talk about the concept of clustered voicing, let’s define voicing.

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

    The tones of the C major seventh chord:

    …which are C, E, G, and B can be considered as voices — soprano, alto, tenor, and bass:

    B is the soprano voice

    G is the alto voice

    E is the tenor voice

    C is the bass voice

    The voices above can be rearranged using techniques known as voicing techniques and the clustered voicing technique is one of the rearrangement techniques.

    Before we talk about the clustered voicing technique, let’s learn more about clusters briefly.

    “What Is A Cluster?”

    In music theory, a cluster is formed when adjacent tones of the scale are played together.

    In chord formation, the traditional practice is to form chords in thirds. Using the C major scale (as a reference):

    …the C major triad is formed by stacking notes together in third intervals…

    C and E (a third interval apart):

    …and then G (which is another third interval apart):

    But in the formation of clusters, adjacent tones of the scale are used in chord formation. In the C major scale:

    …C, D, and E:

    …are adjacent tones and when they are played together, they form clusters.

    The Clustered Voicing Technique – Explained

    In the clustered voicing technique, the notes of the chord are arranged in such a way that they are adjacent to each other. The notes of the C major ninth chord:

    …can be arranged in such a way that they are adjacent to each other.

    Here’s the outcome of the clustered voicing of the C major ninth chord:

    The clustered voicing technique is basically¬† used to rearrange extended chords — not triads and seventh chords. So, there are only clustered voicings of ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth chords.

    Clustered Voicings Of Scale-Tone Chords

    Apart from chord 7 (aka – “the leading note chord”) every other scale-tone chord in the major key is stable. Let’s learn how the scale-tone chords in the key of C major can be voiced using the clustered voicing technique.

    Clustered Voicings Of Chord 1

    The C maj9 [add 13th]:

    …with C, D, and E on the left hand:

    …and G, A, and B on the right hand:

    The C maj9 [add 13th]:

    …with E, G, A, and B on the left hand:

    …and C, D, E, and G on the right hand:

    The C maj9 [add 13th]:

    …with G, B, C, and D on the left hand:

    …and E, G, A, and B on the right hand:

    Clustered Voicings Of Chord 2

    The D min11:

    …with D, F, and G on the left hand:

    …and A, C, D, and E on the right hand:

    The D min11:

    …with F, G, A, and C on the left hand:

    …and D, E, F, and G on the right hand:

    The D min11:

    …with A, C, D, and E on the left hand:

    …and F, G, A, and C on the right hand:

    Clustered Voicings Of Chord 3

    The E min11:

    …with E, G, and A on the left hand:

    …and B, D, E, and G on the right hand:

    The E min11:

    …with G, A, B, and D on the left hand:

    …and E, G, A, and B on the right hand:

    The E min11:

    …with B, D, E, and G on the left hand:

    …and A, B, D, and E on the right hand:

    Clustered Voicings Of Chord 4

    The F maj9 [add 13th]:

    …with F, G, and A on the left hand:

    …and C, D, and E on the right hand:

    The F maj9 [add 13th]:

    …with A, C, D, and E on the left hand:

    …and F, G, A, and C on the right hand:

    The F maj9 [add 13th]:

    …with C, E, F, and G on the left hand:

    …and A, C, D, and E on the right hand:

    Clustered Voicings Of Chord 5

    The G dom9 [add 13th]:

    …with G, A, and B on the left hand:

    …and D, E, and F on the right hand:

    The G dom9 [add 13th]:

    …with B, D, E, and F on the left hand:

    …and G, A, B, and D on the right hand:

    The G dom9 [add 13th]:

    …with D, F, G, and A on the left hand:

    …and B, D, E, and F on the right hand:

    Clustered Voicings Of Chord 6

    The A min11:

    …with A, C, and D on the left hand:

    …and E, G, A, and B on the right hand:

    The A min11:

    …with C, D, E, and G on the left hand:

    …and A, B, C, and D on the right hand:

    The A min11:

    …with E, G, A, and B on the left hand:

    …and C, D, E, and G on the right hand:

    Final Words

    It is recommended that you practice the voicings covered in this lesson in other keys and most importantly, try creating your own voicings.

    In a subsequent lesson, we’ll cover the application of these clustered voicings in regular chord progressions and songs.

    All the best!

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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 the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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