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Jazz Piano Lessons: Two Handed Voicings

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So lets start with
our most basic voicings here.
And again this is really important stuff.
When the Brecker Brothers hired me they
had never even heard me play a solo.
But they knew that I could do this and
that I was good orchestrater and
that I had a good ear.
That I wasn't looking to crowd the scene.
The first voicings that
we're going to look at,
if you take the F7 and play it
just in root position you get that.
And I have to say that I almost never,
in fact I think it's
been years since I played any variety
of this basic voicing with that on top.
[SOUND] What we're gonna do instead,
this the first inversion of that.
Second inversion.
We're gonna work with the third inversion
for the time being.
That's a lot less square
than that is.
let's work with the third inversion here.
what we're gonna do is we're gonna take
it and we're gonna take the tonic,
the F, and
we're just gonna drop that an octave.
So that leaves us with this.
And we're gonna voice that down here.
And that to me we're not adding anything,
we're not adding any jazzy buzz-notes,
or anything like that.
But that's a pleasing kinda way
to voice that F seven chord.
I like it down in this register,
particularly up here,
it's still ok but
the soloist is up in here too.
They could be playing this
and that's actually more okay than you
would think, but let's play it down here
Cuz that's actually a really nice sound,
we're just trying to
get our comping going.
So, once again, what we've done here
We took this basic version of the chord F,
A, C and E flat.
We went up one,
two to the third inversion.
So the fifth is on top.
Then we just dropped the root
from here down to here.
And now we're here, and
that's a really great,
just place to start.
When I play these things,
I rarely just play them,
I play them
You can see what I'm doing there.
I'm playing a little grace not into the A.
That's something you can do if you find it
falling under your fingers, that's great.
Eventually, you'll get to where you're
greasing a couple notes at a time.
But for now, let's just focus on
getting this voicing together.
And I'm gonna play, well,
let me show you the rest of them.
And then we'll play on
our blues with these and
get a little bit of
rhythmic information going.
The same principle applies to the B flat.
Once again, the notes on that,
B flat, D, F, and A flat.
What is it,
there's something kind
of happy about that,
that's not doing the right thing for me.
So let's again, let's voice that
up to the third inversion
And let's drop the root.
So now we end up with B flat low,
A flat, D and F.
You can always do that or
Those are straight chromatic kind of
interpretations of what I'm doing.
All of the notes go down a half step or
up a half step
like that.
So, sometimes I'll go
You don't wanna get too far into that
when you're behind a soloist, though.
Cuz if they're not moving somewhere
compatible with this, for
example, if he's sitting on
But as a little device, occasionally,
to create a little melodic
interest you can do that.
That's not really where our focus is today
We're looking
at getting these two voicings going then
the same idea is gonna apply for
our G minor seven.
Here's the basic root voicing.
That's not really too bad.
I don't mind hearing the seven
on top of the minor structure.
I think that what it is is that there's
something about putting the top note
on any tritone on the top that bothers me.
The tritone, of course,
in this chord is your third and
your seventh and
a tritone is a diminished fifth.
there's an actual fifth lower the top.
A half step you get the diminished fifth
And there's something happy about that.
And there's something happy about that.
That's not what I think
of when I think of jazz.
So let's keep the fifth on the top,
the basic G minor seven voicing.
Is like that.
Let's invert it up to the third inversion,
First inversion.
Second inversion
third inversion
You can hear that that's actually
already kind of a nice chord there.
So let's drop the root.
And there we have our voicing.
Just essentially it's a B
flat triad over the G.
And then we're gonna do the last voicing
we need to work on here is our C
seven voicing.
We're gonna take that and
put it down here.
One, two, third inversion, drop the root.
And those are our voicings.
We're going to look at ways to add
some buzz to this stuff
in future lessons.
But for now,
it's more important to see these.
To get the very basic notes
of the chords spread out in
a way that sounds like jazz to us.
gonna put up the F blues track at 110
BPM and I'm just gonna play these.
When you're finding them,
maybe you start out playing whole notes.
I'll do that.
And as you get them under your fingers,
start playing around a little
bit with different rhythms.
Keep it consistent.
Remember that this stuff needs to swing
just as hard as any lines you play.
And try to keep a rolling
easy triplet feel going and
a little bit behind the beat.
When you play in a band everybody
kind of has a specific role to play.
The bass player can't be laying back,
he needs to be the pusher a little bit.
Cuz everybody really actually
lays back against him.
Different drummers do it different ways.
Elvin Jones had a really great way
of kind of playing a little bit back
behind the bass player, so
if the bass player also was sitting back,
the whole thing eventually would
slow down and grind to a halt.
The piano player, though,
we generally are behind the beat people,
as are the soloists.
Different drummers play with
different kinds of energy.
And some play really kind
of right on the beat,
others work against
the beat in certain ways.
Piano players, we need to be
a little bit behind the beat, but
we need to listen to the soloist also.
If you're playing behind Dexter Gordon,
you better be kind of more behind the beat
with him, or you're gonna be
flamming with him all the time.
If you're playing with
a more energized soloist
maybe you play a little
bit further forward.
I'm gonna split the difference and
play it where I hear it.
And let's just kind of start working these
things out a little bit on a F7 blues.
One, two, three, four.
So there's,
you can hear that it's a pretty
simple way to do this but
a lot of people,
they want simple from you.
They're gonna be here.
substituting a B triad,
which is a way to go.
We're gonna cover that later.
And if you're playing, I guess, if you're
really just burning on the guide tones,
they have a completely
unlimited clash free zone
where they can blow without
conflicting with you.
And they're still getting
the communication with you.
Your feeding them little ideas.
Your adding to the rhythmic propulsion.
So these basic voicings, they're basic but
they really do have a lot of utility.
In our next lesson,
we're gonna take a look at dropping one
other note out of these, and then we'll
continue with a couple other ways of
getting your two handed comping going.