• Cyclical Exercises: A & B Voicings Of The Major Seventh Chord

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano

    A & B Voicings Of The Major Seventh Chord

    Who else wants to master the A & B voicings of the major seventh chord?

    The major seventh chord has a common place in modern gospel and jazz styles.

    It is the chord quality of scale degree chords 1 and 4. In the key of C:

    …the first and fourth scale degrees are C:

    …and F:

    …and the seventh chord formed from both scale degrees are major seventh chords.

    Quickly, here’s how both chords are formed from the C major scale using the pick skip technique…

    To form the C major seventh chord, pick C:

    …skip D, pick E:

    …skip F, pick G:

    …skip A, and pick B:

    To form the F major seventh chord, pick F:

    …skip G, pick A:

    …skip B, pick C:

    …skip D, and pick E:

    In this post, I’ll be showing you exercises that will help you connect these chords in all keys.

    Voice Leading Chords In Chord Progressions

    Now that you know that the major seventh is the chord quality of chords 1 and 4, how do you connect both chords in a chord progression?

    Obviously, we can’t move from the C major seventh chord (chord 1) to the F major seventh chord (chord 4) in this manner…

    Chord 1:

    …to chord 4:

    This is because in chord progressions, the notes are supposed to move with a degree of smoothness. The techniques that guide the movement of voices is known as voice-leading.

    Time will fail me to talk about the underlying principles of voice-leading because I have a whole lot to share with you. However, I’ll be introducing you to the A and B voicing technique that can help you connect seventh chords with the a greater degree of smoothness.

    But before then, let’s quickly look at voicing.

    “What Is Voicing?”

    Voicing is the rearrangement of the notes of a chord. In this rearrangement, the notes are considered to be voice parts – soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.

    The tones of the C major seventh chord can be considered as voice parts. Here’s what I mean…

    C:

    …is the bass voice part.

    E:

    …is the tenor voice part.

    G:

    …is the alto voice part.

    B:

    …is the soprano voice part.

    I don’t do so much of singing, but I know that in vocal classification, the bass and tenor voices are classified as the lower voice parts while the soprano and alto voices are classified as higher voice parts.

    We can split the C major seventh chord into lower and higher voice parts.

    Lower voice parts (C and E):

    …which are the bass and tenor voice parts respectively.

    Higher voice parts (G and B):

    …which are the alto and soprano voice parts respectively.

    This voicing concept applies to any other major seventh chord on the keyboard.

    In the F major seventh chord:

    F and A:

    …are the lower voice parts – the bass and tenor voice parts respectively.

    C and E:

    …are the higher voice parts – the alto and soprano voice parts respectively.

    Now that you’re familiar with the consideration of the notes of a chord as voices (aka – “voicing”), let’s look at A & B Voicing Techniques.

    A & B Voicing Technique For Major Seventh Chords

    The lower voice parts of a seventh chord are supposed to come before the higher voice parts. In the case of the C major seventh chord:

    C and E:

    …are the lower voice parts while G and B:

    …are the upper voice parts.

    This regular way of having the lower voices come before the upper voices is called the A voicing. Here are the A voicings of the major seventh chord in all keys…

    C major seventh:

    Db major seventh:

    D major seventh:

    Eb major seventh:

    E major seventh:

    F major seventh:

    Gb major seventh:

    G major seventh:

    Ab major seventh:

    A major seventh:

    Bb major seventh:

    B major seventh:

    There’s an alternate arrangement of the voice parts called the B voicing. Check it out.

    The B Voicing Technique Of Seventh Chords

    The major seventh chord can be arranged in such a way that the upper voice parts come before the lower voice parts.

    Think of G and B:

    …coming before the C and E:

    This arrangement/voicing is the B voicing of the C major seventh chord:

    Before you move on, try to get familiar with the B voicing of major seventh chords in all keys…

    C major seventh:

    Db major seventh:

    D major seventh:

    Eb major seventh:

    E major seventh:

    F major seventh:

    Gb major seventh:

    G major seventh:

    Ab major seventh:

    A major seventh:

    Bb major seventh:

    B major seventh:

    Let me show you how this voicing technique can be applied.

    Application Of The “A & B Voicing Technique” To A 1-4 Chord Progression

    I already made it clear in an earlier segment that we can’t move from the C major seventh chord (chord 1) to the F major seventh chord (chord 4) in this manner…

    Chord 1:

    …to chord 4:

    This is because of some underlying voice leading principles which states that:

    In chord progressions, chords tones (aka -“voice parts”) should move (if there’s need.) In situations where a chord has a note or two in common, that note is retained while others move to the nearest option.

    In a 1-4 chord progression, the bass and tenor voice parts (aka – lower voice parts”) of the of the C major seventh chord – C and E:

    …are also common voice parts in the F major seventh chord:

    Considering that C and E:

    …are common voice parts in chords 1 and 4, we’ll have to retain them in a chord progression from chord 1 to chord 4.

    So, in the C major seventh chord:

    …we’re retaining C and E:

    …while the two upper voice parts G and B:

    …would move to the closest notes. In this case, G:

    …would move down to F:

    …and B:

    …would move down to A:

    Put together, here’s what it looks like…

    Chord 1:
    …to chord 4:

    Here’s what you have to know about this 1-4 chord progression…

    Chord 1 is the ‘A voicing’ of the C major seventh chord:

    …while chord 4 is the ‘B voicing’ of the F major seventh chord:

    In a nutshell, it’s an “A-B” chord progression because of the movement from an A voicing major seventh chord to a B voicing major seventh chord.

    Exercise For The Mastery Of The “A & B Voicing Technique” In All 12 Keys

    In this segment, I’ll be giving you 12 simple exercises that can help you master how to connect seventh chords in a cyclical progression.

    Part 1

    Exercise #1 – C major

    A voicing of the C major seventh:

    …to the B voicing of the F major seventh chord:

    Exercise #2 – Bb major

    A voicing of the Bb major seventh:

    …to the B voicing of the Eb major seventh chord:

    Exercise #3 – Ab major

    A voicing of the Ab major seventh:

    …to the B voicing of the Db major seventh chord:

    Exercise #4 – F# major

    A voicing of the F# major seventh:

    …to the B voicing of the B major seventh chord:

    Exercise #5 – E major

    A voicing of the E major seventh:

    …to the B voicing of the A major seventh chord:

    Exercise #6 – D major

    A voicing of the D major seventh:

    …to the B voicing of the G major seventh chord:

    Part 2

    Exercise #7 – Db major

    A voicing of the Db major seventh:

    …to the B voicing of the Gb major seventh chord:

    Exercise #8 – B major

    A voicing of the B major seventh:

    …to the B voicing of the E major seventh chord:

    Exercise #9 – A major

    A voicing of the A major seventh:

    …to the B voicing of the D major seventh chord:

    Exercise #10 – G major

    A voicing of the G major seventh:

    …to the B voicing of the C major seventh chord:

    Exercise #11 – F major

    A voicing of the F major seventh:

    …to the B voicing of the Bb major seventh chord:

    Exercise #12 – Eb major

    A voicing of the Eb major seventh:

    …to the B voicing of the Ab major seventh chord:

    Final Words

    Let these prepare you for bigger things in the picture that we’ll be covering very soon. Here’s a 6-2 chord progression in the key of C

    Chord 6:

    …the A minor ninth chord.

    Chord 2:

    …the D minor ninth chord.

    In the chord progression above, while the root is focusing on the 6th and 2nd chord tones, the right hand voice parts (or let me just say chord tones) are doing exactly what we covered in today’s lesson.

    There’s more to what we just covered and we’ll definitely get back at this in a subsequent post.

    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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    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Peter LaFosse

    It’s good to learn what to do the chords after you have learned them. Thanks

    Reply

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