Tuesday, 2 May 2017


First written by Harold Hanson
Rewritten by Maro

A voicing is simply a representation of a chord.
*How the notes in a chord are spaced
*What notes are being played twice
*Where the root of the chord is placed
*What feeling a particular order gives you

These things are all important when it comes to understanding voicings.
And believe me, some musicians need a lot of help in this area. Just because you’re playing the same notes as the next musician, it doesn’t mean you’ll make that chord sound the same way the next musician does.

I know musicians who can take the same old major chords we’ve been playing for years and make them sound like something we think we’ve never played before. And when you find out what they’re doing, you’re often times blown away because it’s so simple. The key is how you voice your chords and where you place them.

So in this lesson, all I would do is take regular seventh chords and alter the order and number of notes I play.

Step 1: I would start with the regular root inversions.
C major 7: C E G B

Step 2: I will now take out the 5th interval.
The 5th interval in this chord is “G” (”G” is the 5th tone in the C major scale).
C major 7: C E B

Step 3: I choose to only play the root on my left hand bass.
C major 7: 
C on left hand - E B on right hand

Step 4: I choose to double up on the “third” (
means playing octaves).
The third interval in this chord is “E” (“E” is the 3rd tone in the C major scale).

Step 5: Once I establish my voicing (which is basically “3 7 3 over the root bass”), I will use this same voicing all the way up the piano.
You already know the seventh chords that correspond to the major scale.

Just slide over your fingers one note and that will give you the voicing for the next chord in the scale.

C major 7 = C E G B = new voicing (C - E B E)

D minor 7 = D F A C = new voicing (D -  F C F)

E minor 7 = E G B D = new voicing (E - G D G)

F major 7 = F A C E = new voicing (F - A E A)

G dominant 7 = G B D F = new voicing (G - B F B)

A minor 7 = A C E G = new voicing (A - C G C)

B half-diminished 7 = B D F A = new voicing (B - D A D)

Note: What you see in the first group of notes is what the chord normally looks like in root position.
Then you see our voicing in parentheses.

You can add a little grace note effect in your chord by sliding from the note just before the middle note in your right hand - which is the same as the last notes on your left hand, i.e E A B E. Or else, you can just play them together.

You may be thinking… “Wow! That seems too easy. I just move my fingers over and I can learn all these new voicings!” 
Well, that’s because these voicings all have the 3rd and 7th in them and quite frankly, that’s all you need in order to play a chord (along with the root, of course). 
The 5th doesn’t really tell you much about the chord because major, minor, and dominant chords all have perfect 5th intervals. What really matters in a chord is what the 3rd and 7th are doing.

(Even when you’re trying to figure out what kind of chord you’re playing, the third and fifth should be able to tell you. Any extra notes may hint at it being an extended or altered chord but the 3rd and 7th will tell you what kind of underlying chord you’re playing, in most cases).

So, try making your own voicings.
Maybe you won’t use “3 7 3” like I did. Maybe yours is the reverse: “7 3 7.” That sounds pretty good, too! And you can even take it all the way up the scale too because it has the 3rd and 7th and that’s all you need in order to form the seventh chords of a major scale.

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