4 Extremely Useful Jazz Piano Chord Voicings

If you want to learn jazz piano it’s very important that you spend time learning essential jazz piano voicings.

By increasing your understanding of jazz harmony, chord progressions, and jazz piano voicings you can open up an incredible world of self expression through jazz piano.

Creative Jazz Piano Is Like Creative Cooking

jazz piano chord voicingsSometimes I like to think of learning a new chord voicing as similar to when a chef learns how to use a new spice in their cooking.

By learning how to use a new spice a master chef can now flavor food in a new and exciting way. Similarly, when we learn how to use a new chord voicing we can “flavor” our music in new and exciting ways too.

The more voicings you know the more ways you can express yourself through harmony.

4 Jazz Piano Voicings To Get You Started

So, in this jazz piano tutorial I’m going to help you flavor your music right now. We’re going to learn 4 jazz piano chord voicings that you can use in a ton of different tunes and musical situations. Let’s get started learning!

First, watch the video below and then scroll down for some very important additional tips and the sheet music for this lesson.

Jazz Piano Chord Voicings Video Tutorial

Why not take 4 minutes and watch this video tutorial where I teach you how to play all these chords.

Most Important Jazz Chord Progression

The single most important chord progression in jazz is the II-V or the II-V-I. When you have a deep understanding of the power of this chord progression it opens the doors to understanding hundreds of the most famous jazz standards.

This is especially true when you learn more about jazz chord substitutions.

The chords in this jazz piano tutorial are taught in context of the II-V chord progression.

8 Tips To Help You Master This Jazz Piano Tutorial

1. I recommend you learn these voicings in context of the II-V chord progression and also think of them as individual chords by themselves.

2. The minor chords in this lesson all have the 11th or the 4th scale degree on top.

3. The dominant chords inside this lesson all have the root on top or scale degree 1.

jazz piano tutorial4. Understanding the top note of a voicing can also help you reharmonize melodies in a unique and exciting way.

5. If you want to learn some great tunes where you can apply these voicings I recommend you try Stella By Starlight or Autumn Leaves.

6. If you’re new to these tunes and would like a step by step tutorial to help you learn them I recommend you check out the  Premium Jazz Lessons Elite Membership Course.

There are hours of video tutorials to help you learn Stella By Starlight and Autumn Leaves so you can play them in a professional way.

There is also full notation of each song, text on screen, MIDI files, and other great tunes to explore as well.

It’s the only jazz piano course ever created that also features 3 complete arrangements and lessons for every song (beginner level, intermediate level, and advanced level).

jazz piano lessons online

7. The A7 chord in this tutorial is an altered chord voicing.  The harmony from this type of chord comes from the altered scale.

8. The right hand shape I use over the Cm7(11,9) chord in this lesson uses a concept called a cluster voicing. By keeping many of the harmony notes close together it creates a very rich and expressive sound.

herbie-hancock lickI first heard players like Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock using these type of voicings.

Chick supposedly is a big fan of Bela Bartok’s music. You can find that cluster sound in lots of Bartok’s music as well.

I actually feature these cluster chords in the Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea licks I teach in the Jazz Masters Method DVD.

4 Jazz Piano Chords Notated

For those of you who would like to see some sheet music, I’ve notated the 4 jazz piano voicings from this tutorial below.

Feel free to print, download, or share the notation from this lesson. The only thing I ask is that you credit Freejazzlessons.com. Thanks! :)

Also, check out how I included a variation for pianists with smaller hands in measure 1.

jazz piano tutorial

(click to open in a new window)

Important Final Practice Tip

Learn these jazz piano voicings in as many keys as possible (ideally all 12).

I realize that it takes time to do this but the act of learning thing in multiple keys does incredible things for your musicianship.

It can be really fun too once you get into it. The more you put into your music the more you’ll get out of it! :)

I hope you enjoyed this free jazz piano chord tutorial.

If you have questions or want to add anything please feel free to leave a comment below. It’s always nice to hear from you!

Keep swingin’ and let me know how these chords treat you!

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  • Leroy

    I think practice the voicings with metronome works better since we are pushing ourselves to work the voicings out in a limited time. Just my two cents.

    • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      Right on Leroy. Good tip.

  • Andrew Steven Gradwell

    Hi Steve, thanks for the lessons, just reading through the messages sent a thrill up my spine. The actual playing has not yet begun as I am nursing an injured hand (left), but as soon as I am on the mend it will be all systems go. Great stuff man, thanks.

    • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      My pleasure Andrew and hope your hand feels better real soon!

  • J Michael Russom

    Steve–If you are playing with a bass player and want to drop the root to avoid stepping on his/her toes, how would you change the voicings?

    • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      You’ll want to start using more rootless voicings. I have a bunch of lessons on the site that feature those voicings. Use the search bar to find them.

      • J Michael Russom

        Thanks Steve–I will do that.
        Michael

  • chicksinger23

    I’m so happy I found you!! :-) Been reading through your info and I’m going to share you with my teacher! :-) yay! here’s to awesome piano playing…

    • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      Thanks Chicksinger! Welcome to the community and thank you very much for sharing the site!