This is a public version of the members-only Jazz Piano With George Whitty, at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of Jazz Piano With George Whitty.
Join Now

Quickstart Guide to Jazz Piano
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4
Level 5
30 Day Challenge
Electric Piano & Keyboard Concepts
«Prev of Next»

Jazz Piano Lessons: Two Handed Comping: Adding Tensions

Lesson Video Exchanges () submit video Submit a Video Lesson Study Materials () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials Quizzes
information below Close
information below
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Backing Tracks +
Written Materials +

+Level 1

+Level 2

+Level 3

+Level 4

+Level 5

Additional Materials +
resource information below Close
Collaborations for
resource information below Close
Submit a video for   
Jazz Piano

This video lesson is available only to members of
Jazz Piano With George Whitty.

Join Now

information below Close
Course Description

This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Jazz Piano With George Whitty. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Jazz Piano Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
We've spoken a little about
the potential to add extensions, or
what in Boston what we
used to call tensions,
on top of different chords.
And this is so
much part of the character of jazz,
it really,
it kind of just birthed itself out there
in the music of Duke Ellington and
Billy Strayhorn.
Beautiful harmony in there in
tunes from the 30s and so forth.
The great Art Tatum, one of the greatest
things I mean, he's well known for
his peerless chops.
There's never been a piano player,
and I don't think we'll ever have
a piano player like Art Tatum again.
But the other thing about him was
the great harmony that he played all over
the keyboard.
Guys like Fats Waller,
a ton of really great harmony
sneaking by underneath there.
The New Orleans piano players,
Professor Longhair, Doctor John,
all these guys are adding so
much flavor to the chords that wasn't
ever found in any kind of European music.
Although, if we look at the music of
Claude Debussy we start to see a lot of
these things, Rachmaninoff was using a lot
of advanced extensions in his music.
Herbie Hancock cites him as one
of his top couple influences,
and no one has ever had such an advanced
harmonic thing, I don't think, as Herbie.
Let's start looking at
the tensions that are available to
add onto a dominant chord, cuz that's
really where the rubber meets the road
as far as flavoring a chord
with the most available notes.
We've looked at our C seven, and
we've touched on these before, but
now we're gonna go through
all the possibilities.
And then we're gonna look at a really easy
way that we've also touched on before to
organize these in such a way
that you can get at them quick.
The available tensions on a dominant
chord, there's our C, our root.
Our faithful guide tones,
third and seventh.
First one that we
encounter is a flat nine.
[SOUND] And historically and
just by the sound of it,
this one wants to resolve
to a minor chord.
It's got that melancholy thing on it, and
you think of it going
here to an F minor chord.
But it's equally nice [SOUND] in my
opinion going to a major seven chord.
I don't really discriminate.
It's purely an on the fly taste thing for
There's our first extension.
You'll find that in our ear training
exercise on the dominant chords too.
And it's great to help you learn what
these sound like and get a feel for
which ones you might want to use.
There's our natural nine, the D.
Our sharp nine, we should be well
acquainted with that by now because we've
been using this in our left hand and
also to comp with with our right hand.
That's the thrd.
Here's definitely,
[SOUND] you can't use that.
Your sharp 11, if you want to
call it a flat 5 that's okay too.
But I think of it,
since it sounds to me like it's risen
above that rather than that
it's coming down from there.
The five of course is in the chord.
Flat 13, the A flat is great.
That's our other big altered tension
on the most common altered chords.
That's the natural 13 which is really
nice especially with the flat 9.
There's a seven, and this one,
of course, doesn't work.
It's hard to imagine a more
sour sound than that.
When I say altered chord,
I'm using a more encompassing term for
what's commonly called a sharp 9,
flat 13 chord.
Sometimes you look at these charts and
it's like C 7,
flat 9, sharp 11, flat 13 sharp 9,
or something like that.
And it's this hodgepodge of things that
by the time I figure out what it is,
the band has moved on without me.
I just call it altered, it's all in
the spectrum of kind of mostly flat
alterations to what
would be happier sounds.
Let's move on to our next lesson now.
And we're gonna start looking
at a cool way to keep these
organized in your head as a collection
that you can instantly deploy.
And with whose sound you can become
familiar enough that you just reach for
the upper structure triad.