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Jazz Piano Lessons: 13th Chord Voicing in the Left Hand

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You may have noticed as I'm playing
the examples on these
things that sometimes my
left hand is, for example on a C seven,
a C minor seven to F
seven cadence to B flat.
Rather than going here, then jumping up
to our ninth voicing that we learned,
and then jumping back down to here,
I'm just taking the easy way out.
Moving that B flat down to an A,
like this.
We're gonna learn that voicing now and
a large part of what we like about
it is that it does let you keep
your left hand comping in a really great,
comfortable register.
These chords sound better down
here than they do up here.
That there's something that gets a little
shrill or strident about that.
I don't like it.
But we all love this.
[SOUND] Now what this voicing is about,
it's called the 13th voicing.
And the reason why is because
all we're doing with it,
we're taking our guide tones.
[SOUND] There's the tonic, the F, the E
flat, the A, and we're adding the 13.
here's the 7, 8, 9, that's the one that
we've been working on, 10, 11, 12, 13.
If we keep extending up past to the 7,
to the 9 to the 11 to 13,
and it's a very pleasant
little tension on our chord.
It is of the same family as the nine.
They're both parts of the natural scale.
They're not anything dark, or
like this, or more tense than that.
They are a part of the natural scale.
We find the G in the F seven scale.
We find the D in the F seven scale.
So that's what that's about.
We're going to work on these.
And this again, is just for
natural dominance for
today because it's all
the natural tones in the scale.
As we evolve though, we're going
to learn that this same voicing,
[SOUND] if we put it over a B, a tritone
away, now it's an altered voicing.
What we're gonna do, we're just gonna
do the same thing that we've done
in some other instances with different
voicings that we've been using.
Let's put it on just a two,
five progression.
The real objective here is this
little bit of voice leading.
Check it out.
C minor seven, there's a third.
There's the seven, there's the nine.
When we get to the F, we change one note.
The B flat goes to the A.
Now we have that nice
13 voicing on the F 7.
And when we go to the B flat,
we've got that.
This stuff is so baked into me,
I swear my corpse will be able
to play it after I'm gone.
It's like that for most piano players.
You wanna have some bedrock stuff
that's gonna keep you going down here.
It's a great place,
you put this down here.
And that's keeping your harmony for you,
gives people a very clear
frame of reference for
any cool stuff you're
doing in your right hand.
And the voice leading is very smooth.
You stay in the right register.
Another one there.
So these little cadences are something
that you really wanna
have under your fingers
in a way that they come
very naturally to you.
You can stick them in there without
trying to find them, in other words.
In the interest of that,
let's get them together.
We're going to do the cadence actually.
But before we do, let's find these
voicings on the cycle of fifths.
Again there is a PDF of this
that makes it easy for you.
Some of them are gonna be voiced up here
where, [SOUND] this is too low to me,
as it always is when we get
the lowest note below that C.
But let's just find them
on the circle of fifths.
C7, we'll make that a C13.
C7 resolves to F13.
B flat 13, E flat 13,
A flat 13.
Now I'm gonna move it
up cuz this is getting,
I don't know about that, that's too low.
So we're gonna move it up here,
[SOUND] D flat 13, G flat 13, B 13,
E 13, A 13, D 13, G13.
So there's a thing,
it's a good quick exercise.
These are likely to resolve that way.
So working them out that way
does two things for us.
It teaches us to find them without
just crawling up the chromatic scale.
I mean,
I think pretty much anybody can do this.
So we're making a little leap
to find them and that's good.
It also works them in a way that
we're likely to see them on a song.
Once we've done that,
that might be something you do for
a couple weeks, is find that voicing.
Once we do that, let's work with
the little cadence that we've got.
What I'm gonna do is put up the two
five to one track in C,
and the one one two,
which means a bar of D minor seven,
a bar of G seven, and
two bars of C major seven.
And I'm just gonna come up with
my left hand and just find these,
get them going under there.
When I feel like I have a thing going,
I'm gonna start to
add a touch of right hand against it and
play the two off of each other.
A one, two, three, four.
You notice
a little bit of
grease in there,
my patented.
Doing that with the middle fingers like I
often do.
A little bit of chromatic motion in there
like we've talked about, let's you
add some cheap melodic interests.
Now I'm gonna
add a little left
hand to the right hand.
how I
Take that, work this little show.
On our first three chord progressions of
They fit in there kinda nicely, this
one maybe is a touch on the high side.
But not really too bad.
That's a little shrill for
me, but this is good.
Now, that's the 2-5 to D.
Lower those two a half step and
we got our D minor 7 voicing,
our G 13 voicing
Our C major 7 voicing,
now our C minor 9 to F 13,
to B-flat major 7.
It's a really good idea to work this out.
We've got two 5-tracks in every key,
at three different tempos.
And we've got them spaced out as a two,
two, four, two bars, two bars,
and four bars.
We've got them also spaced out as one,
one, twos.
So there's really no limit to
the different ways you can practice these
things and burn them in.
I would really get on this,
put up those 2-5-1 tracks in every key and
just have a little fun,
use your imagination.
Hang up off the back end
time wise as I've said.
We want them to kinda snap especially
when they're off the beat.
You can mix those up also with
the different things we've talked
about like our drop-1 voicing here or
particularly on the major 7,
our drop-3 voicing is really pretty.
Cuz you get this little buzz in there.
We're gonna work more with this interval
cuz a lot of jazz chords use that.
As our 13th chords get more sophisticated,
as a matter of fact,
we start adding in the 13,
that's right there, and the 9.
And we get a dense little
buzzing thing down there
that adds some punctuation
to what we're doing.
Be patient with yourself as
you're working on this stuff.
It takes a good while to get it going.
We want it capable of
being on auto-pilot but
also to be something that we feature for
a little minute like I was
doing when I was playing there,
I got into a thing that I kinda like,
stuff like that.
Work a little bit of
right hand into it too.
And next thing you know, you'll have
these things flying under there.
And it produces a much nicer,
more complex jazz sound,
with very smooth voice-leading.
I mean, I think Bach would be proud of us.