7 Cool Left Hand Voicings

(video below)

Jazz pianists are always looking for “cool” voicings — “Hey, show me a cool voicing!”

But I always like to think of voicings as part of a progression, not just a static chord by itself.

I’ve laid out seven voicings that may be new to you, and that you may enjoy adding to your left-hand arsenal. Even if you know some of these individual voicings, this progression and voice leading will likely be new.

Some thoughts on each voicing:

  1. I love the sound and tension of this chord, and I love how the shape fits comfortably in my hand. There’s some great symmetry to it as well: Two minor 3rds separated by a perfect 4th.
  2. #1 leads nicely, if unexpectedly to #2, thanks to some great voice leading between the two. Note that this voicing also works over a Gbma+5 sound.
  3. This is easy adjustment from #2, just 1 note changes, but it’s a different sound and feel. Interesting shape: a minor 2nd and a major 2nd separated by a major 3rd.
  4. From #3 to #4 we spread out a bit with the voice leading to a very modern sounding and wide 4 note voicing that I love. Note that this voicing has just one small adjustment from the typical rootless four-note minor-9 voicing of stacked diatonic thirds.
  5. This chord is our first three note voicing, so there will naturally be some built-in voice leading drama coming from the previous four notes. It’s easy to think that this chord wouldn’t work without the 7th, but in this situation, it fits quite nicely.
  6. With the addition of this chord, we are again immersed in some nice tension over a dominant chord, and we’re back to four notes. Note the shape of two close intervals: a minor 2nd and a minor 3rd, separated by a perfect 4th.
  7. The final voicing would not work on the basis of typical voice leading rules, but here it definitely does, even with the added 4th which gives it just the right amount of “suspension”, but still feels like a pretty great ending point.

Please comment below with your thoughts about these cool left-hand voicings — Happy Practicing!

Jazz pianists are always looking for “cool” voicings — “Hey, show me a cool voicing!”

But I always like to think of voicings as part of a progression, not just a static chord by itself.

I’ve laid out seven voicings that may be new to you, and that you may enjoy adding to your left-hand arsenal. Even if you know some of these individual voicings, this progression and voice leading will likely be new.

Some thoughts on each voicing:

  1. I love the sound and tension of this chord, and I love how the shape fits comfortably in my hand. There’s some great symmetry to it as well: Two minor 3rds separated by a perfect 4th.
  2. #1 leads nicely, if unexpectedly to #2, thanks to some great voice leading between the two. Note that this voicing also works over a Gbma+5 sound.
  3. This is easy adjustment from #2, just 1 note changes, but it’s a different sound and feel. Interesting shape: a minor 2nd and a major 2nd separated by a major 3rd.
  4. From #3 to #4 we spread out a bit with the voice leading to a very modern sounding and wide 4 note voicing that I love. Note that this voicing has just one small adjustment from the typical rootless four-note minor-9 voicing of stacked diatonic thirds.
  5. This chord is our first three note voicing, so there will naturally be some built-in voice leading drama coming from the previous four notes. It’s easy to think that this chord wouldn’t work without the 7th, but in this situation, it fits quite nicely.
  6. With the addition of this chord, we are again immersed in some nice tension over a dominant chord, and we’re back to four notes. Note the shape of two close intervals: a minor 2nd and a minor 3rd, separated by a perfect 4th.
  7. The final voicing would not work on the basis of typical voice leading rules, but here it definitely does, even with the added 4th which gives it just the right amount of “suspension”, but still feels like a pretty great ending point.

Please comment below with your thoughts about these cool left-hand voicings — Happy Practicing!

check out the Open Studio Blog for more content like this