• “I’ve Mastered Thirds and Sevenths… Now What?” (Plus Free 2-Week 43-pg Practice Journal)

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano

    thirds and sevenths

    One of the challenges of piano playing at the next level is playing chords on the left hand.

    Here’s what the beginner’s left hand can typically handle with ease…


    …for C major.


    …for E minor.

    Those are basically single notes.

    With a little progress, it graduates to intervals


    …for D minor.


    …for F major.

    This is where the left hand settles for a long while before graduating further to chords.

    Graduating from playing notes and intervals to full-sounding chords is not the easiest thing in the world. Nonetheless, if you read this post, you’ll learn step by step, how to create left hand voicings with the skeletons we covered in a previous post.

    “What is Voicing?”

    A chord is a collection of three or more related notes.

    The consideration of these notes as voice parts is called voicing. Voicing deals with the rearrangement of the notes of a chord as though they are voices.

    Our focus today is on rearranging the notes (aka – “voices”) of a chord to produce left hand voicings (rearrangements) and we’ll be expanding on the concept of the skeleton voicing technique.

    Quick Review of Skeleton Voicings

    It’s possible to play seventh chords with just two notes because of the skeleton voicing.

    This rearrangement is all about playing the third and seventh tones of the chord (aka – “skeleton in the chordboard“).

    The following seventh chords…

    C major seventh:

    C minor seventh:

    C dominant seventh:

    …can be reduced to their skeleton voicings:

    C major seventh:

    C minor seventh:

    C dominant seventh:

    …respectively, which consists of the third and seventh tones.

    Let’s transform these skeleton voicings into left hand voicings.

    “Thirds and Sevenths – Now What?”

    The left hand voicings we’ll be covering in this post are basically adapted from the skeleton voicing of chords.

    The only difference is we’ll be fleshing up these skeletons with some muscles to make them more suitable for the left hand, among other things.

    To do this, I’ll be introducing one compound interval – the ninth.

    “Hello Ninths?”

    In addition to thirds and sevenths, we can bring in the ninth – a compound interval.

    Compound intervals exceed the span of an eighth (aka -“octave“). In the major scale of C:

    …beyond the eighth tone (C):

    …lies the ninth (D):

    …the tenth (E):

    …the eleventh (F):

    …and beyond.

    The major ninth has a letter name that is similar to the major second. Remaining in the key of C, here’s a contrast between the second:

    …and the ninth:

    …where the letter name is the same but the notes are an octave apart.

    Make no mistake about it, in chord formation, the second tone is the ninth and vice versa.

    Therefore, we’ll be adding the ninth (or the second if you belong to my school of thought) to the skeleton voicings we’ve explored in previous posts to beef up our left hand voicings.

    Left Hand Voicings of Ninth Chords

    Left hand voicings are usually extended chords.

    Extended chords are chords that have compound intervals (aka – “extensions”). Ninth chords obviously belong to this group.

    We’ll be covering three ninth chord qualities – major, minor, and dominant.

    Major Ninth

    The major ninth chord is basically a major seventh chord with the ninth. C major seventh chord:

    …plus its ninth tone (D):

    …produces the C major ninth chord:

    In the same vein, the skeleton voicing of the C major seventh is E-B:

    If we add the ninth (D) to it, this produces:

    …the left hand voicing of C major ninth.

    To add to the skeleton voicings of the major seventh chord that I assume you’re familiar with in all the keys, here are major ninth left hand voicings that are the outcome of the addition of the ninth tone.

    C major ninth:

    Db major ninth:

    D major ninth:

    Eb major ninth:

    E major ninth:

    F major ninth:

    Gb major ninth:

    G major ninth:

    Ab major ninth:

    A major ninth:

    Bb major ninth:

    B major ninth:

    Minor Ninth

    Addition of the ninth chord tone to a basic minor seventh chord produces the minor ninth chord. Using C minor seventh chord as an example:

    …adding the ninth tone (D):

    …to this basic minor seventh chord produces the C minor ninth chord:

    Using the same procedure, the skeleton voicing of the C minor seventh which is Eb-Bb:

    …can be upgraded to a minor ninth left hand voicing:

    …if we add the ninth (D) to it.

    At this point, I also want to assume that you’re already familiar with the skeleton voicings of the minor seventh chord in all twelve keys. Check out the following ninth chord left hand voicings derived from the skeleton voicings of the minor seventh.

    C minor ninth:

    C# minor ninth:

    D minor ninth:

    Eb minor ninth:

    E minor ninth:

    F minor ninth:

    F# minor ninth:

    G minor ninth:

    G# minor ninth:

    A minor ninth:

    Bb minor ninth:

    B minor ninth:

    Dominant Ninth

    The dominant ninth chord is basically a dominant seventh chord with the ninth. C dominant seventh chord:

    …plus its ninth tone (D):

    produces the C dominant ninth chord:

    In the same vein, the skeleton voicing of the C dominant seventh is E-Bb:

    If we add the ninth (D) to it, this will produce:

    …the left hand voicing of C dominant ninth.

    To add to the skeleton voicings of the dominant seventh chord that I assume you’re familiar with in all the keys, here are dominant ninth left hand voicings that are the outcome of the addition of the ninth tone.

    C dominant ninth:

    Db dominant ninth:

    D dominant ninth:

    Eb dominant ninth:

    E dominant ninth:

    F dominant ninth:

    Gb dominant ninth:

    G dominant ninth:

    Ab dominant ninth:

    A dominant ninth:

    Bb dominant ninth:

    B dominant ninth:

    Introducing…The Practice Journal for Left-Hand Ninth Chord Voicings

    A practice journal is a learning aid that helps you keep record of your daily practice. We’re introducing our inaugural practice journal to help you out with left-hand ninth chord voicings in all keys.

    This practice journal’s goal is to help guide you through a 2-week program that will help you master major, dominant, and minor ninth left-hand voicings in ALL keys.

    I must say that this is not one of those long boring programs that will eventually get you discouraged – No! This program is structured to give you more output with as little as a 12-minute daily effort.

    If you miss this, you’re practically walking away from…

    12 major voicings
    12 dominant voicings
    12 minor voicings

    …and if you do the math, that’s 36 left-hand ninth chord voicings that you can apply to any popular music style, jazz, and gospel especially.

    Do your best to be part of this program by entering your email address in the opt-in form below.

    Final Words

    Playing left-hand voicings is what separates the men and women from the boys and girls.

    I joined the league of pianists who play left-hand voicings several years ago and trust me, it’s a good thing, not just to me, but to every bass player I’ve come across.

    “Did I Just Say ‘Bass Player’?”

    Yes! The left hand voicings we just covered are played without their root (aka – “rootless voicings”).

    Rootless voicings are very useful in band situations. By leaving out the bass notes, you are not only focusing on more, but giving your bass player a sense of belonging.

    I hope to see you do the same for a bass player in the near future.

    Hope you’ve enjoyed.

    Until next time.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku (aka - "Dr. Pokey") is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

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


    { 7 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Tim

    Hey Jermaine,
    I pray that all is well with you & family. Just a quick note to ask how to get to the form for the left hand voicing practice journal.
    “By God’s Grace “


    2 Tim

    Forgot to mention that the left hand voicing lesson was on point. Peace & Blessings!

    “By God’s Grace “


    3 Antonee jones

    As I was saying you are doing an excellent job to the world but the interesting one like us who are blood thirsty to learn to play by ear and cut through the system. As I one tutor once told me this way of learning is entering through the back door but back or front door we are still able to write our names in the book of musician. I want thank you more for the good job you are doing and I will for ever support your programs. note I am unable to down load the lesson on the ninths


    4 jean watson

    Hey Jermaine

    Hope you and family are well thanks for the blogs they are quite interesting, quite a lot to take in but I guess it’s about how much time and effort one is willing learn but I do try my best to practice as much as I can and to read over the blogs so that its registered. In my head anyway thanks again for the teaching I do in enjoy it now where is this form for the program can not see it please indicate where it is stay bless


    5 Peter LaFosse

    very. Well done. Thanks


    6 wayne sealy



    7 chuksobada

    Hey Jermaine, am really grateful for all what you av been doing, ur post everything I must confess , they are d best . may the Almighty God bless you more and more.. once again thanks for your good works.. wanna say a big thank you to the whole of hearandplay u guys are d first and best of your kind.. thankx


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