• “Part-Over-Root” Voicings Of Seventh Chords

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano

    part-over-root voicing

    If you desire to go beyond triads and start incorporating seventh chords into your playing, the part-over-root voicing is certainly a voicing technique to consider.

    A voicing is the consideration of the notes of a chord as voice parts. With this approach, the notes are rearranged in a certain manner. “Part-over-root” (POR) is just one of the several voicing techniques (aka – “rearrangements”) available to you.

    Seventh chords are four-note chords. Here’s the classic Cmaj7 chord:

    There are people out there who find it challenging to play these four-note chords. However, with this voicing technique, chord tones can be rearranged in such a way that you can have triads on the right hand and still achieve an overall seventh chord.

    Seventh Chords

    Seventh chords are basically chords that encompass seven degrees of the major scale.

    Using the C major scale above as a reference, the seventh tone is B:

    Using my pick and skip principle, you can form triads and seventh chords on any key of the scale.

    Starting from C:

    …skip D, pick E:

    …skip F, pick G:

    …skip A, and pick B:

    …which is the seventh degree.

    So put together, C, E, G, and B combine together to create a C major seventh – encompassing seven degrees of the major scale.

    The major seventh chord is just one out of the several types of seventh chords.

    “What is a Part-Over-Root Voicing Though?”

    Like I said earlier, a voicing is the consideration of the notes of a chord as voice parts, and also re-arranging them to move to the closest possible notes (voice leading) when played in chord progressions.

    Part-over-root voicings become very important when you want to achieve more with less.

    Consider this carefully…

    The part-over-root voicing is a technique that breaks up a chord into two parts. The root is isolated from the other chord tones and whatever is left is considered a part.

    Using the C major seventh chord…

    Isolation of the root (C) from the chord and transposing it an octave below its position will produce:

    …the part-over-root voicing of C major seventh.

    Even though the remaining chord tones (part) is recognizably an E min triad:

    …however, with the C note on the bass:

    …this will produce a C major seventh, overall.

    Let’s consider the part-over-root voicing of five common seventh chord types.

    Chord Type #1 – Major Seventh

    C major seventh chord:

    …can be played in such a way that the root is isolated from other chord tones:

    When the root is isolated, the chord tones that are left are known as the part. In the case of C major seventh:

    …isolating C (and transposing it an octave lower):

    …will leave us with an an E minor part:

    This is the part-over-root voicing of C major seventh:

    Chord Type #2 – Minor Seventh

    C minor seventh chord:

    …can be played in such a way that the root is isolated from other chord tones:

    When the root is isolated, the chord tones that are left are known as the part. In this case, isolating C:

    …will leave us with an Eb major part:

    This is the part-over-root voicing of C minor seventh:

    Chord Type #3 – Dominant Seventh

    C dominant seventh chord:

    …can be played in such a way that the root is isolated from other chord tones:

    When the root is isolated, the chord tones that are left are known as the part. In this case, isolating C:

    …will leave us with an E diminished part:

    This is the part-over-root voicing of C dominant seventh:

    Chord Type #4 – Half-Diminished Seventh

    C half-diminished seventh chord:

    …can be played in such a way that the root is isolated from other chord tones:

    When the root is isolated, the chord tones that are left are known as the part. In this case, isolating C:

    …will leave us with an Eb minor part:

    This is the part-over-root voicing of C half-diminished seventh:

    Chord Type #5 – Diminished Seventh

    C diminished seventh chord:

    …can be played in such a way that the root is isolated from other chord tones:

    When the root is isolated, the chord tones that are left are known as the part. In this case, isolating C:

    …will leave us with an Eb diminished part:

    This is the part-over-root voicing of C diminished seventh:

    Putting It Together

    Here are the part-over-root voicings of the seventh chords we’ve covered in this lesson:

    E minor / C (aka – “C major seventh”):

    After isolating the root, the remaining chord tones (part) of the major seventh chord is a minor triad.

    Eb major / C (aka – “C minor seventh”):

    After isolating the root, the remaining chord tones (part) of the minor seventh chord is a major triad.

    E diminished / C (aka – “C dominant seventh”):

    After isolating the root, the remaining chord tones (part) of the dominant seventh chord is a diminished triad.

    Eb minor / C (aka – “C half-diminished seventh”):

    After isolating the root, the remaining chord tones (part) of the half-diminished seventh chord is a minor triad.

    Eb diminished / C (aka – “C diminished seventh”):

    After isolating the root, the remaining chord tones (part) of the diminished seventh chord is a diminished triad.

    Check out how it looks in tabular form below:

    Seventh Chord

    Part Over Root

    Major seventh

    E minor / C

    Minor seventh

    Eb major / C

    Dominant seventh

    E diminished / C

    Half-diminished seventh

    Eb minor / C

    Diminished seventh

    Eb diminished / C

    In Jazz and other popular music styles, seventh chords are often times written as part-over-root. For example, F major / D…

    …is the part-over-root voicing of the D minor seventh chord.

    Final Words

    Part-over-root voicings of seventh chords use triads on the right hand over a bass note on the left.

    75% of the classes of triads we covered in our 16-week chord revival program are used here – major, minor and diminished triads. This means that knowledge of all triad qualities in all 12 keys is important.

    I hope to take you to the next level in another post where I’ll be showing you the secrets to the formation of various qualities of seventh chords in all keys.

    Bye for now.

    P.S.

    If you haven’t joined our 16-week chord revival program, click here to check it out.

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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.




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    { 6 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Ebenezer Andrew

    This is what i have been looking for . . .Thanks Jarmaine, thanks Dr Pokey. . . God bless You. .

    Reply

    2 Dick Blocher

    I have always, practiced my seventh chords, with both left and right hands.But,

    I did not feel, this was to my advantage, because, this placed a natural restriction on my advancing to the Gospel, and Jazz forms. I believe, your method make’s a great deal of sense.At least, you have open a door for me, and advancing into more tangible chord form’s. I know all my major, minor, augmented, and diminished chords. I am now anxious to try this method out. God bless, you Jermain for sharing this with.Your Friend in Pennsylvania. Dick Blocher

    Reply

    3 Jermaine Griggs

    Thank you Richard. The “part-over-root” is a great way to approach bigger chords and makes you think of the smaller chords at work. In fact, with just a mastery of all triads (major, minor, diminished, augmented), practically every bigger chord is within reach with some combination thereof.

    Reply

    4 Bonnie Love Steinmetz

    Just wanted to thank you for changing the way I look at music forever. I love what I am learning….and can’t wait till the next month’s CD. You are truly a gifted teacher and I am so blessed in having found your web-site.
    Thank you on behalf of all music students around the world.

    Reply

    5 Jermaine Griggs

    Thank you so much Bonnie for the warm feedback! Keep up the great work.

    Reply

    6 Susan Caffery

    Thank you soooo MUCH Jermaine. I was wondering why you called some of the chords what you did in the lessons. Very tricky. Now I know where the other notes went to. I must sound like a NUT. Here I can play pretty well with notes, but can’t even do the beginner stuff by ear. Am getting better. The depth in these lessons literally makes my brain twist up, but I thank you so much for them….and for you. Gives an older lady something to do in her spare time. God Bless You, your Family and GTMC, Susan

    Reply

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