• These Advanced Jazz Piano Chord Voicings Will TOTALLY Transform Your Playing

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Jazz music,Piano,Theory

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    If you’re interested in learning how to play advanced jazz piano chord voicings, then you’re on the right page.

    Attention: This lesson is written with advanced players in mind. Therefore, beginners and intermediate players may not be able to apply all that we’ll cover in this lesson.

    Great players like Bill Evans, Red Garland, etc., all have different ways of voicing chords. For example, the C major ninth chord:

    …can be voiced thus:

    …while the bass player plays the root note (which is C):

    Let’s quickly discuss the concept of voicing before we proceed.

    A Quick Review On The Concept Of Chord Voicing

    A chord is a collection of three or more related notes (agreeable or not), that may be played or heard together.

    Voicing is the consideration of the notes of a chord as voices – soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. In this consideration, the notes of a chord are rearranged using techniques known to music scholars as voicing techniques.

    So, the term chord voicing refers to the rearrangement of the notes of a chord using voicing techniques like the following:

    Drop-2 voicing technique

    Skeleton voicing technique

    Upper-structure voicing technique

    Rootless voicing technique

    “Part-over-root” voicing technique

    Fourth voicing technique

    …and more.

    In this lesson, we’re exposing you to the rearrangement of chords (aka – “chord voicings”) that are commonly played/heard among jazz musicians.

    Although there are a variety of chord types, we are limiting it to the four main chord types:

    Major chords

    Minor chords

    Dominant chords

    Altered dominant chords

    …that are commonly used in jazz harmony.

    The Basic Application Of The Chord Voicings

    Before we go further into learning the chord voicings, let’s take this time to discuss briefly on the application of the chord voicings we’ll learn in later segments.

    Application Of Major Chord Voicings

    In the major key, major chords are applicable on the first and fourth tones of the scale. What this means is that in the key of C:

    …major chord voicings can be played on C:

    …and F:

    …root notes.

    Attention: This is the same for every other key.

    Therefore, all the major voicings you’ll learn in the next segment of this lesson can be applied on the first and fourth tones of the scale in a given key.

    Although jazz harmony is dynamic, and it’s possible to have a major voicing anywhere, the major voicings on the first and fourth tones are basic and consistent most of the time.

    Submission: Minor and dominant voicings can also be played on the first and fourth tones of the scale. For example, while playing the blues, the appropriate chord quality for the first and fourth tones of the scale most of the time is the dominant.

    In the bebop music of the late 40s and 50s, minor voicings are applicable on the fourth tones of the scale and this usually implies a modulation.

    “In A Nutshell…”

    Jazz harmony is dynamic because of the prevalence of chromatic harmony and implied modulation. Consequently, the use of major voicings on the first and fourth tones of the scale is just the basic.

    Application Of Minor Voicings

    The basic occurrence of minor chords in the major key are on the following tones of the scale:

    The second tone

    The third tone

    The sixth tone

    In the key of Ab major:

    …minor chord voicings are  applicable on the second, third, and sixth tones which are Bb:

    …C:

    …and F:

    …respectively.

    So, the following minor chord voicings:

    Bb minor chord voicing

    C minor chord voicing

    F minor chord voicing

    …are consistent with the key of Ab major:

    Attention: This is the same for every other key.

    Therefore, all the minor voicings you’ll learn in the next segment of this lesson can be applied on the second, third, and sixth tones of the scale in a given key.

    Always remember that jazz harmony is dynamic, and it’s possible to have a minor voicing anywhere, the minor voicings on the second, third, and sixth tones are basic and consistent most of the time.

    Application Of Dominant Voicings

    First of all, the dominant chord is the chord of the fifth tone of the scale. So, dominant chord voicings are applicable on the fifth tone of the scale.

    However in jazz harmony, dominant chords are used as passing chords to major chords.

    Earlier in this segment, we learned that major chord voicings are applicable on the first and fourth tones of the scale. Therefore, dominant chords can be used as passing chords to the major chords of the first and fourth tones of the scale.

    The dominant chord voicing that functions as a passing chord to the chord of the first tone is known as chord 5 of 1, while the dominant chord voicing that functions as a passing chord to the chord of the fourth tone is known as chord 5 of 4.

    The term “chord  5”  simply means “dominant”.

    Therefore chord 5 of 1 literally means dominant chord voicing of 1 or passing chord to the chord of the first tone, while chord 5 of 4 literally means dominant chord voicing of 4 or passing chord to the chord of the fourth tone.

    “Lest I Forget…”

    The passing chord to the chord of the fifth tone of the scale is a dominant chord.

    So, in the key of C major:

    …all the scale degree chords formed in G:

    …are generally classified as dominant chords.

    These dominant chords (of the fifth degree) can be preceded by a  dominant chord. The dominant chord voicing that functions as a passing chord to the chord of the fifth tone is known as chord 5 of 5, which literally means dominant chord voicing of 5 or passing chord to the chord of the fifth tone.

    Altogether, there are three dominant chord voicings you need to be familiar with in any given key:

    Chord 5 of 1

    Chord 5 of 4

    Chord 5 of 5

    We’ll explore them in the next segment.

    Application Of Altered Dominant Voicings

    Altered dominant chords are just dominant chords, however, they are designated passing chords to minor chords.

    Dominant chords resolve to major chords while altered dominant chords resolve to minor chords.

    Having established it earlier, that minor chord voicings are applicable on the second, third, and sixth tones of the scale. Therefore, altered dominant chords can be used as passing chords to the minor chords of the second, third, and sixth tones of the scale.

    “Take Note…”

    • The altered dominant chord voicing that functions as a passing chord to the chord of the second tone is known as chord 5 of 2.
    • The altered dominant chord voicing that functions as a passing chord to the chord of the third tone is known as chord 5 of 3.
    • The altered dominant chord voicing that functions as a passing chord to the chord of the sixth tone is known as chord 5 of 6.

    “Treat As Important…”

    The dominant chord of the fourth tone of the scale can be resolved to the minor chord voicing of the third degree.

    For example, in the key of G major:

    …a C dominant chord voicing (of the fourth tone):

    …can be use as a passing chord to a B minor chord voicing (of the third tone):

    Please, never forget this!

    Advanced Major Chord Voicings

    Attention: We’ll be breaking down all advanced major chord voicing examples using the C note as the root.

    Major Voicing #1

    This voicing of the C major thirteenth chord:

    …can be broken down into the E 7sus4 chord (on the left):

    …and the [first inversion of the] E minor triad (on the right):

    Major Voicing #2

    This voicing of the C 6/9 chord:

    …can be broken down into the [second inversion of the] C major triad (on the left):

    …and the A 7sus4 chord (on the right):

    Major Voicing #3

    This voicing of the C 6/9 chord:

    …can be broken down into the [first inversion of the] A minor triad (on the left):

    …and the D 7sus4 chord (on the right):

    Major Voicing #4

    This voicing of the C major thirteenth chord:

    …can be broken down into the [first inversion of the] A minor triad (on the left):

    …and the [second inversion of the] G major triad (on the left):

    Major Voicing #5

    This voicing of the C major thirteenth chord:

    …can be broken down into the [first inversion of the] E minor triad (on the left):

    …and the A 7sus4 chord (on the right):

    Major Voicing #6

    This voicing of the C 6/9 chord:

    …can be broken down into the E 7sus4 chord (on the left):

    …and the [second inversion of the] C major triad (on the right):

    Advanced Minor Chord Voicings

    Attention: We’ll be breaking down all advanced minor chord voicing examples using the C note as the root.

    Minor Voicing #1

    This voicing of the C minor eleventh chord:

    …can be broken down into the G7sus4 (on the left):

    …and the [first inversion of the] Eb major triad (on the right):

    Minor Voicing #2

    This voicing of the C minor eleventh chord:

    …can be broken down into the [first inversion of the] Eb major triad (on the left):

    …and the C 7sus4 chord (on the right):

    Minor Voicing #3

    This voicing of the C minor thirteenth chord:

    …can be broken down into the [first inversion of the] C minor triad (on the left):

    …and the [first inversion of the] D minor triad (on the right):

    Minor Voicing #4

    This voicing of the C minor eleventh chord:

    …can be broken down into F 7sus4 chord (on the left):

    …and the G 7sus4 chord (on the right):

    Minor Voicing #5

    This voicing of the C minor eleventh chord:

    …can be broken down into the [first inversion of the] C minor triad (on the left):

    …and the [first inversion of the] F 7sus4 chord (on the right):

    Minor Voicing #6

    This voicing of the C minor eleventh chord:

    …can be broken down into the C 7sus4 chord (on the left):

    …and the [first inversion of the] C minor triad (on the right):

    Minor Voicing #7

    This voicing of the C minor eleventh chord:

    …can be broken down into the [second inversion of the] Eb major triad (on the left):

    …and the [second inversion of the] F major triad (on the right):

    Minor Voicing #8

    This voicing of the C minor eleventh chord:

    …can be broken down into the [first inversion of the] C minor triad (on the left):

    …and the F 7sus4 chord (on the right):

    Minor Voicing #9

    This voicing of the C minor thirteenth chord:

    …can be broken down into the G 7sus4 chord (on the left):

    …and the A 7sus4 chord (on the right):

    Advanced Dominant Chord Voicings

    Attention: We’ll be breaking down all advanced dominant chord voicing examples using the C note as the root.

    Dominant Voicing #1

    This voicing of the C dominant ninth chord:

    …can be broken down into the E 7sus#4 chord (on the left):

    …and the [second inversion of the] C major triad (on the right):

    Dominant Voicing #2

    This voicing of the C dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

    …can be broken down into the Bb maj7sus#4 chord (on the left):

    …and the D 7sus4 chord (on the right):

    Dominant Voicing #3

    This voicing of the C dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

    …can be broken down into the C dominant seventh chord (on the left):

    …and the E 7sus4 chord (on the right):

    Dominant Voicing #4

    This voicing of the C dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    …can be broken down into the Bb maj7sus#4 chord (on the left):

    …and [the first inversion of] the D major triad (on the right):

    Dominant Voicing #5

    This voicing of the C dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

    …can be broken down into the C dominant seventh chord (on the left):

    …and [the second inversion of] the A minor triad(on the right):

    Dominant Voicing #6

    This voicing of the C dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    …can be broken down into the E 7sus#4 chord (on the left):

    …and the [first inversion of the] D major triad (on the right):

    Dominant Voicing #7

    This voicing of the C dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

    …can be broken down into the C dominant seventh chord (on the left):

    …and the D 7sus4 chord (on the right):

    Advanced Altered Dominant Chord Voicings

    Attention: We’ll be breaking down all advanced altered dominant chord voicing examples using the C note as the root.

    Altered Dominant Voicing #1

    This voicing of the C dominant seventh [sharp ninth, sharp fifth] chord:

    …can be broken down into the E maj7sus#4 (on the left):

    …and the Ab major triad (on the right):

    Altered Dominant Voicing #2

    This voicing of the C dominant seventh [sharp ninth, sharp fifth] chord:

    …can be broken down into the Bb 7sus#4 (on the left):

    …and [the second inversion of] the Ab major triad (on the right):

    Altered Dominant Voicing #3

    This voicing of the C dominant seventh [sharp ninth, flat fifth, sharp fifth] chord:

    …can be broken down into the Bb 7sus#4 (on the left):

    …and [the second inversion of] the Gb major triad (on the right):

    Final Words

    Congratulations! You’ve explored 25 advanced chord voicings for four chord types and I can guarantee you that if you apply 40% of the chords we covered in this lesson, you’ll sound like you’ve played jazz for years.

    See you in the next lesson where we’ll apply these voicings.

    All the best!

    The following two tabs change content below.
    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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