Learn Jazz Piano Chords in 4ths

In today’s jazz piano lesson we’re going to learn how to play some very cool jazz piano chords built in 4ths.

These types of chords using quartal harmony can really add a more modern sound into your jazz playing.

New To Jazz Piano Chords in 4ths?

Why not take 4 minutes and watch the video below.

In the youtube lesson below I teach you how to play and build  every chord and I also demonstrate how the chords sound in a rhythm section with drums and bass accompaniment.

Notation For The Jazz Piano Chords in 4ths

jazz piano chords 4ths

(Click the chords to view them larger in a new window. You can print them from your browser if you’d like.
Feel free to share the chords. The only thing I ask is that you credit freejazzlessons.com. Thanks! )

11 Additional Tips To Help You Learn

Before we quickly go over these helpful tips please remember that is essential in jazz to listen.

You can’t get all the information from just reading the notation above. Watch and listen quickly to the video. It will help you learn!

You can also hear me use them with bass and drums at 3:25 in the vid. 🙂

Rootless Voicings Tips

1. These chords are rootless voicings. This means that the root is either not played in the chord or is omitted from the bottom of the chord.

2. Rootless voicings work because the harmony is still defined by having the 3rd and 7th of a chord. You don’t have to always have to have a root inside a chord.

3. In the case of the major 6/9 chord above the 6th is substituted for the 7th. So, the chord’s harmony is defined by the 3rd and the 6th.

4. If you want to learn more about rootless voicings you can check out this jazz piano chords 2 handed comping lesson and this jazz piano chords left hand voicings lesson.

5. The G7 voicing used in this lesson could also be used as a Dminor 6th chord. We explore an interesting variation of this chord in the Diana Krall section of the Jazz Masters Method DVD.

Chord Progression Tips

6. I’m playing a II-V-I chord progression in the example above. The II-V-I chord progression is the single most popular and important chord progression in all of jazz music.

7. If you want to learn some more ways of playing this chord progression check out this lesson on solo piano II-V-I chords.

jazz piano chords 4thsWhere You Can Use These Chords

8. In the video above I use the chords in a comping situation. So, you can could definitely use them while playing behind another soloist.

9. Even though they sound great in a comping situation you could also just as easily use them as part of a solo piano arrangement.

When I’m playing solo piano I’ll mix all kinds of different voicings into the arrangement and of These voicings could be used in solo piano too!

The only requirement is to make sure that the top note of your chords fit the melody of the tune. You can see how I mix together a lot of different types of voicings in this solo jazz piano performance.

The main idea is to be creative with using these chords.

Do you have ideas where else you can use these chords? Please leave a comment below and share.

Bonus Tips

10. You’ll notice that I’m playing a few additional passing chords in the video above. I’m using a technique called ‘planing’.

The simple summary of this concept is to play the same chord voicing either up or down a half step and then resolving into your target chord.

So, if I’m trying to get to Cmaj7 I may quickly play a Bmaj7 before hand (which is down a half step) and then resolve up in the Cmaj7.

If you guys are interested in this type of concept I’ll do a lesson on this in the future. Please let me know in the comments below.

11. I’m a big fan of learning everything in all 12 keys. I know this takes time but I promise you it’s worth it! 🙂

You don’t have to learn every key right away though if you feel like it’s too much.

Try throwing them into some tunes you already know. It’s definitely the quickest way to get comfortable with these chords and start making music right away.

Once you do that you can go back and try to slowly learn some more keys.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this lesson!

Remember to seize the day and keep working on trying to improve your musical skills a little bit everyday. These chords are a great place to start!

If you enjoyed this lesson or have some cool suggestions for using these chords please leave a comment below. Let’s get a discussion going!


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Steve Nixon