• Left Hand Chord Voicings For The Intermediate Jazz Pianist

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

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    There are left hand chord voicings every intermediate jazz pianist must not be without.

    So, if you’re an intermediate jazz pianist, or you just got started with jazz and are interested in taking your left hand to the next level, then this lesson is for you.

    But before we get into what we have for today, let’s refresh our minds on what a chord voicing is.

    A Quick Review On The Concept Of Chord Voicing

    A chord is an aggregate of three or more related notes. These notes can be considered as voices or voice parts like soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.

    The C major seventh chord:

    …consists of the following voices…

    B is the soprano voice

    G is the alto voice

    E is the tenor voice

    C is the bass voice

    These voices can be rearranged using rearrangement techniques which are known as voicing techniques and the outcome of these rearrangements is known as voicing.

    Here’s a voicing of the C major seventh chord:

    …it’s pretty different from the regular C major seventh chord:

    …in arrangement, however, in terms of chord components, it’s the same C major seventh chord.

    So, the voicing of a chord is basically a rearrangement of a known or named chord and chord voicings are produced by voicing techniques.

    In the next two segments of this lesson, we’ll be covering the skeleton and rootless voicing technique from the perspective of the intermediate jazz pianist.

    Skeleton Voicing For The Intermediate Jazz Pianist

    The skeleton voicing technique focuses on the two most important chord tones: the third and the seventh. The third and seventh tone of a chord are known as its skeleton or shell and they can be used to determine the quality of a chord.

    For example, the C major ninth chord:

    …and the C minor ninth chord:

    …only differ in their third and seventh tones. They share the same root note (C), fifth (G), and ninth (D):

    So, the skeleton of the C major ninth chord is E-B:

    …while the skeleton of the C minor ninth chord is Eb-Bb:

    An intermediate jazz pianist can voice chords using the skeleton voicing in the left hand. Let’s go ahead and explore these skeleton voicings.

    A-voicing Of Scale-Tone Chords

    When a skeleton voicing is arranged in a way that the third comes before the seventh, it is considered as an A-voicing. So, for every scale-tone chord in the key of C major, all you need to do is to arrange the skeleton in such a way the the third comes before the seventh tone.

    The 1-chord:

    The 2-chord:

    The 3-chord:

    The 4-chord:

    The 5-chord:

    The 6-chord:

    The 7-chord:

    B-voicing Of Scale-Tone Chords

    An alternate way of arranging the skeleton of a chord is placing the seventh before the third, and this produces the B-voicing. For every scale-tone chord in the key of C major, all you need to do to form the B-voicing is to arrange the skeleton in such a way the the seventh comes before the third tone.

    The 1-chord:

    The 2-chord:

    The 3-chord:

    The 4-chord:

    The 5-chord:

    The 6-chord:

    The 7-chord:

    Rootless Voicing For The Intermediate Jazz Pianist

    In a band situation, the bass player supplies the melodic bottom of the chords (otherwise known as the root note). Therefore, the pianist can focus on every other chord tone.

    The C major ninth chord:

    …can be played without its root and this produces the rootless voicing of the C major ninth chord:

    A rootless voicing is basically an arrangement of a chord where the root note is omitted and an intermediate jazz pianist must be acquainted with these rootless voicings.

    A-voicing Of Scale-Tone Ninth Chords

    Due to the importance of the third and seventh tones of a chord, their placement determines whether a particular voicing is an A-voicing or not. In the rootless voicing of the C major ninth chord below:

    …the third (which is E) is placed before the seventh (which is B):

    …consequently, it’s an A-voicing of the C major ninth chord:

    “Check Out The Rootless Voicings Of All The Ninth Chords…”

    The 1-chord:

    The 2-chord:

    The 4-chord:

    The 5-chord:

    The 6-chord:

    B-voicing Of Scale-Tone Ninth Chords

    When the seventh tone in the rootless voicing of a chord is placed before the third tone, this produces the B-voicing of the chord. This is produced by the octave transposition of the two lower voices in the rootless voicing.

    Using the rootless voicing of the C major ninth chord (as a reference):

    …the two lower voices (which are E and G):

    …can be transposed to a higher octave (of E and G):

    …and this produces the B-voicing of the C major ninth chord:

    “Check Out The Rootless Voicings Of All The Ninth Chords…”

    The 1-chord:

    The 2-chord:

    The 4-chord:

    The 5-chord:

    The 6-chord:

    Final Words

    Using the voicings you’ve learned in this lesson, I believe you can be proud of your left hand while accompanying a soloist or playing in a band situation.

    With these left hand voicings, the good news is that you don’t have to struggle for the root notes with the bass player.

    See you in the next lesson, and don’t forget to practice in all the keys.

    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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