- 1Block Chords Tutorial
- 2Drop 2 Voicings Tutorial
- 3Red Garland Voicings
- 4Pentatonic Chord Voicings
- 5Laura Jazz Piano Tutorial
- 6There Will Never Be Another You Tutorial
- 7The Nearness Of You Tutorial
- 8Days Of Wine & Roses Tutorial
- 9Fly Me To The Moon Part 1
- 10Fly Me To The Moon Part 2
- 11Comping Voicings & Rhythms
- 12Satin Doll Piano Tutorial
- 13Satin Doll Part 2
Block chords are an effective way to harmonise a step wise melody line. This type of voicing technique was used extensively by jazz pianists such as George Shearing, Bill Evans, Red Garland, Wynton Kelly and Ahmad Jamal.
There are a wide variety of ways to do this. In this course, we’ll look at some of the most common applications of block chords. If you are new to Block Chord Harmony, the first step is to learn how to play the ‘Four Way Close’ which was popularised by musicians such as George Shearing.
The ‘Four Way Close’ is a distinctive style of chord where the voicing is built in closed position, directly below the melody. Block Chord Voicings are generally played in rhythmic unison with the right hand and work particularly well for stepwise melody lines.
Drop 2 Voicings are similar to the Four Way Close but instead of doubling the melody note an octave down in your left, instead we ‘drop’ the second note from the top and play this in out left hand. The Drop 2 Chord Voicing creates a more textured and sophisticated sound that the Four Way Close and can be heard extensively in the recordings of Bill Evans, Barry Harris and many others.
Red Garland Voicings create a much fuller block chord sound with a brighter and cheerier quality. This is achieved through doubling the melody in the right hand and adding a note a perfect fifth above the bottom note in the right hand. Unlike previous styles of block chords, Red Garland did not change his left hand voicing until the chord changed.
This is a very nice voicing to comp with and is quite easy to learn because you are just playing a left hand voicing, and then doubling the melody with your right hand with a fifth interval in between. Sometimes the 5th interval in the middle of you right hand will ‘clash’ with the underlying harmony and this creates some interesting colour and tension.
We then study Pentatonic Voicings. The important thing is the understand that 1 set of voicings can be used over many different chord types. The great thing about pentatonic voicings is that they are built from 4th intervals and this makes them great for coming chords. 4th based chords are often harmonically ambiguous and so they give you much greater flexibility to comp with.
The jazz standard lessons in this course explores some detailed applications of block chords using The 4 Way Close, Drop 2 Voicings and Pentatonic Voicings.