Wow! Well it’s been quite a while since my last blog post. I’ve been extremely busy gigging, teaching and trying to raise money to upgrade this site in the coming months. I’m very excited about this because I’ll be working with a great branding and marketing company by the name of Dreambox Creative. The owner and leader of this business is actually a student of mine. His son just got into the Brubeck institute in Stockton for jazz sax, so he knows music very well and will be the best person to help create my vision for Jazz Piano School. Anyway, on to the rootless voicings!!
What are rootless voicings?
We’ve talked a lot about 7th chords and inversions to use a voicings, but, as you become more advanced in your playing you will want to learn these voicings that do NOT include the root of the chord in them. Rootless voicings are simply voicings that reflect the quality of the chord, yet do not contain the root of the chord in them.
Why should you learn rootless voicings
Normally our roots are going to sound best at the bottom of the chord. Thus, the term root. There is a reason for that. They provide the support necessary for the rest of the chord. If you have the root in the bass, then playing it again in your voicing will muddy up the sound and become redundant. This holds true when playing with bass players as well. When a bass player is playing a tune, they will be walking on the roots a lot, so you will want to add in other voices to contrast and blend what they are doing. These other notes will be extensions.
What are extensions?
Extensions are going to be notes on top the our chord that provide us with colors! Just like a painter uses colors, and a chef uses spices, a jazz pianist uses extensions to add flavor and beauty to the harmonies. If we count the degrees of our scale we reach the octave at 8. If we continue to count up the scale we get numbers such as 9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16. These notes can be placed on top of a chord to add color. There are certain extensions we can use over a minor 7th chord, a dominant 7th chord and a major 7th chord. We won’t get into that quite yet. So here is how we play them over a 2-5-1.
Rootless Voicing Structure 1
There will be two different rootless voicing structures we will use. The first one will start on the third of the minor chord in our 2-5-1. It’s best to think in degrees from the root of the chord, this way you can transpose easily to any key. Here are the degrees and chords.
Rootless Voicing Structure 2
How to practice your rootless voicings?
You will want to be able to go through all your 2-5-1’s in every key with your RH alone then LH alone, hands together, then finally, RH with LH playing the bass notes. When you can do both structures through out all keys without thinking then you will be in great shape to improving your playing!
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