3 Easy Oscar Peterson Chords

oscar peterson chordsWould you like to learn 3 easy Oscar Peterson chords? You’ve come to the right place. In the video below I’m going to teach you how to play 3 Oscar Peterson chords for the left hand.

These sound great in a solo piano style. They can be used for both playing the head of a tune and also for accompanying yourself when you’re improvising.

Take 3 minutes and watch the video below. I’ll break down the Oscar Peterson chords for you.

3 Oscar Peterson Chords Video Tutorial

Tips To Help You Master The 3 Oscar Peterson Chords

Now that you’ve taken a few minutes to watch the video above, Let’s get further into these Oscar Peterson chords.

I transcribed these chords from one of my favorite Oscar Peterson recordings.

What Key Are These Chords In?

In the example above I’m playing in the key of F but of course you can apply this concept to any key as long as you understand the basic scale degrees.

oscar peterson chordsThe 3 chords you hear are just a decorate way of playing a common 2 5 1 chord progression.

In the video I play a Gm7, C7, Fmaj7 but of course I don’t play them simple and in root position. I play them in a fancier way.

For the Gm7 chord I’m playing the root, the 7th, and the 3rd of the chord an octave above.  These notes are G F and Bb.

For the C7 chord I’m moving very subtly. In fact, I’m only moving 1 note down from our Gm7 chord.

So, for C7 I’m playing G E and Bb. Notice there is no root in this chord. It’s just the 5th (on the bottom), the 3rd, and the 7th.

For the Fmaj7 I’m playing F E and A. This is the root, 7th, and 3rd of that chord.

Extra Inner Voice Motion Technique

oscar-peterson-chordsAlso, notice at the very end I move the E down to a D inside the Fmaj7 chord. This creates a very simple but very beautiful inner voice motion.

This type of move is a great way to decorate major 7th chords.

Although the final major 6th chord at the very end wasn’t one of the chords I transcribed from Oscar, you’ll still hear this movement all over jazz standards.

It’s common enough that I wanted to show it to you.

Many great jazz pianists also use this technique to decorate their major chords. People like Dr. Billy Taylor, Barry Harris, Marian McPartland, Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal and many others.

This really is a classic move.

Why These Chords Work Great At Fast Tempos

oscar peterson chordsThis is a goldmine tip. As you increase tempos in jazz it’s important that you’re as efficient as possible with your hand movement.

The less motion there is the easier it is to execute on a technical level.

Since you can play all 3 of these chords and barely move your hand they work really well at faster tempos.

That’s why having voicing strategies for a variety of different tempos, styles, and textures is critical.

You don’t want to play the same voicings in every single song and every single musical situation. This is a great way to bore your listeners quickly!

These Oscar Peterson chords are a perfect example of one of the voicing styles you can use when the tempos creep up there.

There are others and we’ll discuss those in a bit….

What To Do If You Have Smaller Hands

oscar-peterson-chordsDon’t worry if you have smaller hands and these Oscar Peterson chords seem difficult to grab with 1 hand.

Just break up the chord, play the low note and then the top two notes right after. If you do it subtly and use the damper pedal you can still hear the flavor of the chords quite easily.

What Other Chord Types Do You Need To Know?

All right. Now, there are so many more chords voicings that really we need to know as jazz piano players.

  • There’s Bill Evans style “So what” voicings.
  • There’s George Shearing style block voicings.
  • Drop 2 voicings.
  • Rootless chords.
  • Big open piano-style voicings.
  • Bebop shell voicings.
  • And many many others critically important chord types.

oscar peterson chordsThe good news is I actually have a program that shows you how to play all these different voicing in context of the best jazz standards in the whole world.

It’s called the Premium Jazz Membership Program.

If you want to learn how to play all these cool chords and have fun and learn in a step-by-step method, I highly recommend you pick up that program, and of course, I also do teach the Oscar Peterson style chords in context of many of those great jazz standards as well.

It’s a complete solution for learning jazz harmony in context of tunes.

All right. Happy practicing. Enjoy learning these Oscar Peterson chords. If you have questions about today’s tutorial feel free to leave a comment below. I’m happy to help.

My goal is to help you become the musician you dream of being. Thanks for watching and reading!

Steve Nixon