• How To Derive The Drop-2 Voicing Of Any Given Chord In 3 Seconds Or Less

    in Piano

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    In this lesson, I’ll be showing you step-by-step how to derive the drop-2 voicing of any given chord.

    The drop-2 voicing technique is commonly used in a variety of music styles; predominantly in gospel and jazz harmony and this is because of its appeal.

    If you’re just coming across the drop-2 voicing concept for the first time, don’t worry! We’re starting out with a thorough explanation of the drop-2 voicing before proceeding to learning how it can be derived.

    Let’s get started!

    “What Is The Voicing?”

    The concept of voicing in music is concerned with the consideration of the notes of a chord as a voices or voice parts. If you’ve been around the choir for sometime now, you must have heard of these voice parts: bass, tenor, alto, and soprano.

    The notes of the C major seventh chord:

    …can be considered as the following voices…

    C:

    …is the bass voice or fourth voice.

    E:

    …is the tenor voice or third voice.

    G:

    …is the alto voice or second voice.

    B:

    …is the soprano voice or first voice.

    The Drop-2 Voicing Concept — Explained

    In the drop-2 voicing, the second voice or the alto voice of the chord is transposed by an octave. The octave transposition of the alto voice in a chord produces its drop-2 voicing.

    In the C major seventh chord:

    …the second voice (aka – “the alto voice”) is the G note:

    The octave transposition of G (the alto voice) from its position:

    …to a lower octave:

    …produces the drop-2 voicing of the C major seventh chord:

    Voicing any other chord in a way that the alto voice is an octave lower than its position, produces the drop-2 voicing.

    How To Derive The Drop-2 Voicing Of A Chord

    The drop-2 voicing of any triad or seventh chord can be determined in 3 seconds or less and here’s a breakdown of how the three seconds can be invested:

    “In The First Second…”

    You should be looking out for the alto voice of the chord. Irrespective of the inversion of the chord played, the alto voice remains the second to the highest-sounding pitch in the chord.

    For example, the (second inversion of the) D major seventh chord below:

    …has D:

    …as the second to the highest-sounding pitch in the chord. Therefore, D is the alto voice:

    …of the third inversion of the D major seventh chord:

    Remember, this shouldn’t take more than a second. As soon as you can visualize the chord, you can spot the alto voice.

    “In The Second Second…”

    At this point, you should be transferring the alto voice from its position to a lower octave and this is easy if you’ve mastered the art of octave transposition. In the case of the D major seventh chord:

    …the alto voice (which is D):

    …can be transposed to a lower D:

    Technically, what happens here is that the alto voice is transferred from the right hand to the left hand. So, the octave transposition of the alto voice technically transfers the alto voice from the right hand to the left hand.

    In The Third Second…”

    Here’s where to put every piece of the puzzle together to produce the main picture.  The alto voice, which was transposed to the left hand and a lower octave as well and the rest of the voices are played together to produce the drop-2 voicing.

    In the case of the D major seventh chord:

    …the transposed alto voice is D:

    …and the rest of the voices are A, C#, and F#:

    Altogether, we have the drop-2 voicing of the (second inversion of the) D major seventh chord:

    Final Words

    Using the 3-second process to the formation of the drop-2 voicing, so many musicians in the past have effortlessly played the drop-2 voicing of any chord and you are no exception.

    That’s why I’m doubly sure that you’ll also be able to do this as easy as it is.

    Keep up the great work!

    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 a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with 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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    { 5 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Martin Gureasko

    As with other blog posts, this is a clear and concise explanation of the drop-2 concept. I’ve not seen a better explanation anywhere else!

    Reply

    2 Peter

    The third inversion of D maj7 should be C# D F# A

    Reply

    3 www.norton.com/setup

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    4 Barrah Collins

    Considering the 1st inversion, F# A C# D, do you mean the alto voice will be different as seen in the explained second inversion?

    Reply

    5 silvano

    grazie per questa lezione. veramente chiara.
    silvano

    Reply

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