• Do You Know When Less Is More In Chord Voicing?

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Piano

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    There are so many situations in music where less is more and chord voicing is one of those situations

    Sophisticated voicings are beautiful for the most part and the number of tones in a chord really counts — the bigger, the better. However, there are situations where less is more.

    I’m talking about situations where a fewer notes in a chord can do much more than you think they can.

    If you understand the principles I’m about to share with you in this lesson, you’ll be able to achieve more in harmony, using fewer notes.

    Let’s get started by refreshing our minds on chord voicing.

    “What Is Chord Voicing?”

    The notes of a chord can be considered as voicings or voice parts. The notes of the C major seventh chord:

    …can be considered as voices:

    B is the soprano voice

    G is the alto voice

    E is the tenor voice

    C is the bass voice

    In the consideration of the notes of a chord as voices, these voices are rearranged using techniques known as voicing techniques and the outcome of voicing a chord produces a chord voicing.

    Chords Vs Chord Voicings

    A chord voicing is just an arrangement of the notes of a given chord. For example, the C major ninth chord:

    …can be rearranged in such a way that G major sixth chord:

    …is played over C on the bass:

    …to form a chord voicing of the C major ninth chord:

    Although both the chord:

    …and its voicing:

    …have exactly the same notes (C, E, G, B, and D), that differ in arrangement.

    It’s also possible to have other voicings of the C major ninth chord, and that includes (but is not limited to) the drop-2 voicing:

    …the polychord voicing:

    …and more.

    Skeleton Voicing: What To Do When Less Is More

    It’s possible to have more harmony with a fewer number of notes and that’s exactly what our focus in this lesson is on and to achieve that, you’ll have to learn the skeleton voicing technique.

    Let’s go ahead and talk about the skeleton voicing technique.

    A Short Note On The Skeleton Voicing Technique

    The skeleton voicing technique is a voicing technique where the third and seventh tones of the chord are considered.

    For example, the C major seventh chord:

    …can be rearranged using the skeleton voicing technique.

    In the skeleton voicing of the C major seventh chord, its third and seventh tones — which are E and B:

    …are considered.

    So, here’s the skeleton voicing of the C major seventh chord:

    …with just 50% of the total number of notes in the regular C major seventh chord:

    How To Sound More Playing Less

    The skeleton voicing is a clear example of the application of less to achieve more. The skeleton voicing of the C major seventh chord:

    …consists of two of its most important notes (which are its third and seventh tones).

    Due to the fact that the quality of a chord is determined by its third and seventh tones, the skeleton of a chord is enough to determine what chord it is.

    For example, the Eb-Bb skeleton:

    …is the skeleton voicing of the regular C minor seventh chord:

    …while the E-Bb skeleton:

    …is the skeleton voicing of the regular C dominant seventh chord:

    Final Words

    From what you’ve learned in this blog post, I’m certain that you can make the most out of any given chord quality with as much as two to three notes.

    In another lesson, we’ll go ahead and look at what to do when more is more.

    See you then!

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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.



    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Shawn

    Thank you Chuku, I really appreciate the blog.


    2 qualityenglishproofreading.com/

    Thanks so much for sharing this music lesson. I really like the way how you explain all these things!


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