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: Upper Structure V-I Triads

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.
The next triad, upper structure triad,
we're gonna work on is
really just the addition
of one note to our
standard issue chord here.
We've been working with
this voicing a little bit.
Which is the 13 voicing, right.
Here is the guide tones flat seven and
This is the 13.
All we're gonna do is add
the root on the top of that.
And that makes a D minor triad
if you look at the notes.
There it is in root position.
There it is in the first inversion.
There it is in the second inversion.
So really the only thing we're doing
here is spreading out our F7 chord,
the notes of which are F, A, C, and
E flat, and then we're adding this D.
The thing that makes this worth
actually devoting a lesson to is that
a lot of what makes the upper
structure triad such a cool, iconic,
powerful sound is that the triad
structure itself is just
a cool, iconic, recognizable sound.
When we do it as two triads
against each other or a triad over
the guide tones we hear
it as a bitonality.
We hear it as two things happening at once
instead of kind of a collection of stuff,
and that's the thing that
makes this a cool sound.
It's the thing that gives it
its coherence and its power.
So by formulating the top of
this structure as a triad,
be it a minor triad or a major triad,
we add a kind of integrity to
it that makes it cohesive.
Very simple here.
Think down a minor third, and
put a minor triad on it.
There it is on C.
This one I'm not that crazy about
I don't really want that, and
I'm not that crazy about that either.
So this one,
I don't think I use it unless it's in this
position with the root
of the chord on top,
which is the minor third of our minor
upper structure triad.
There it is in F,
in B flat,
A flat
D flat,
G flat,
E, A, D.
Kinda up maybe more up here.
If I can't get it in a register that
I'm loving, I play something else.
Pretty much as simple as that.
And this one isn't really great there.
And I'm not loving it there either.
But right there is the meat
of the whole thing.
These again, are such elemental
parts of the playing we do,
when we're playing on standards and so
forth, that having these where you're not
thinking about them and your mind is
in tune with what the soloist is doing.
That's where we want these at, is at the
level where you barf them up as a whole
entity rather than trying to imagine, well
let's see, what was that again, the 13?
You want these to just come out.
I'm gonna throw a little piece
of information in here that,
as the soloists you're working with
become more and more sophisticated,
you should be thinking about doing
less defining of the harmony.
If you're here, you've got your wonderful
13th chord happening and they're here.
They're playing altered on it.
You kind of get that going, and
that's not what we're after.
If you've got really great fast ears,
and again, I refer you back to our ear
training lessons,
you can chase the soloist around some.
It's better to kind of play less.
I learned this the hard way because for
the first tour that I did
with the Brecker Brothers.
I found that Michael Brecker
was often kinda
encouraging me to play more spaciously.
And eventually I kind of came to realize
that I was driving the bus too much.
If I'm playing this, and
Mike really wanted to be out here.
He heard the clash and it bothered him.
There's a whole separate school of comping
that was developed by McCoy Tyner,
that let's you be out
there with the soloist and
if they're taking it out,
You kind of go out with them.
It's better to just play less.
I refer you to listen once
more to Herbie playing
on Miles Davis' The Plugged Nickel and
listen to how sparsely you can play.
Here's a man who has more harmonic
information probably still contained in
his brain than the rest of humanity
combined has ever had, and he just waits.
He waits until they're done,
he feeds them a little idea
if he's got something good for
them, but it's not profoma.
It's not, I'm sitting at the piano so
I should be playing.
Very in tune listening, it's just
a thing of beauty, the spaciousness.
So, let's work these out,
work them out on the cycle of fifths like
that and we will next apply them to
our two, five track a little bit.
We'll do a little playing.
And then we wanna get
these going on tune up.
So I'll see you for those lessons next.