Essential jazz piano voicings every player should know

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    Greg PercifieldGreg Percifield
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    Hello, jazz piano enthusiasts!

    One of the key elements that define the sound of jazz piano is the use of different chord voicings. Voicings are the specific arrangement of the notes within a chord, and understanding various voicings can help you enrich your playing and create a more sophisticated sound.

    In this thread, we’ll explore some essential jazz piano voicings that every player should know. We encourage you to share your favorite voicings, ask questions, and discuss tips on how to practice and apply these voicings in your playing.

    To get us started, here are three common jazz piano voicings:

    Shell Voicings: Shell voicings are simplified chords that typically contain only the root, third, and seventh of a chord. These voicings provide the basic harmonic structure and can be used as a starting point for building more complex voicings.
    Example: Cmaj7 shell voicing – C E B

    Rootless Voicings: As the name suggests, rootless voicings are chords that don’t include the root note. Instead, they focus on the other chord tones (third, seventh, and extensions) and rely on the bass player or your left-hand comping to provide the root note. Rootless voicings are a great way to create a more modern sound and avoid clashes with the bass.
    Example: Cmaj7 rootless voicing – E B D (9th included)

    So What Voicings: Popularized by Bill Evans in the Miles Davis tune “So What,” these voicings consist of a stack of fourths with a major third on top. They work well with modal tunes and can provide a more open, modern sound.
    Example: Dmin7 “So What” voicing – D G C F A

    Now it’s your turn! Share your favorite jazz piano voicings, ask questions, and let’s dive into the world of jazz harmony together. Happy playing!

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