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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Piano Voicings I: Basic rootless voicings

I have had several requests from people to start posting on piano voicings. This is obviously an important topic to pianists as comping is something we do 90% of the time. There is often something kind of mystical about learning voicings since they can sound complex. Personally I think all piano students should be given these things from their teachers early on so that the student doesn't develop habits that will need to be broken later. The whole business of voice-leading will take care of itself if the students learns just a couple of basic structures and really internalizes them. This will get their ears around the basic jazz voice leading (3-7, 7-3, 5-9, 9-5). Once you hear this it becomes easier to get inside the changes on a standard tune and remember the harmony because the hands will instinctually play the sounds that your hearing without too much thought. I find when a student is struggling to play voicings (especially left hand voicings while soloing) it can really get in the way of the creative flow. But it requires patience in doing a fairly un-creative practice routine until you get to the point of efortlessness and fluidity. Well take a deep breath, suck it up. If you've got a big voicing whole in your playing here are the basics. I guarantee that if you make these chords something your hands can do on their own you will have so much more mental space for your creativity. Here's Part I

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