Major Chord Voicings Tutorial
One of the challenges of playing jazz is being able to quickly find a voicing that works well underneath any melody note you could come across on a lead sheet.
When you are playing, you should always be consciously analysing the melody note in terms of what scale degree it is in relation to the chord underneath.
If you have memorised a range of voicings that you know work well under specific scale degrees you will be able to easily find a suitable voicings to play under any melody note you come across.
Building chords that connects the harmony to the melody in this way is called harmonising the melody and when this can be done quickly, you’re playing will begin to sound much fuller.
In this lesson I am going to explore a range of major voicings that can be used under each of the 7 notes of the Lydian mode.
Major Voicings Lesson Supplement File Type: pdf
Major Voicings Lesson Transcript File Type: pdf
The key is to memorise these voicings is to remember the formulas in terms of scale degrees.
If you like the sound of one of the voicings... for example - a major chord with the #11th in the melody - immediately apply it to jazz standards
Open your fake book, or flick through the jazz standards you have learnt and look out for a major chord with the #11 in the melody.
When you find one, try your voicing, you will likely have to work out the notes using the scale degree formula. Perhaps starting with the root at the bottom and working up.
By doing this you will retain the shape and the information much better…. because you have taken the time to work it out.
Keep looking through your fake book, or through your jazz standards until you have built the same voicing in a few different keys… the more keys you build it in, the deeper your understand will become.
By simply running the voicing through all 12 keys, you will have difficulty remembering all of the shapes, and also applying them in context of actual tunes (which is the end goal!)
Hey could you recommend the best way to learn these voicings across all 12 keys?
Yes sure… here is some important information for memorising voicings:
Every time I come across a chord on a lead sheet, I analyse the scale degree of the melody in relation to the chord underneath. I have got to a point where i do not need to think about this, I see the melody note and my hands just go for the voicing.
For example, if you see a major chord on a lead sheet, it may be the #11th in the melody, in which case, you should immediately think that the Kenny Barron Major Voicings could be a good choice of voicing (or any of the voicings from this lesson that have the #11 in the melody).
You should always make this conscious analysis of the scale degree of the melody when you are playing through jazz standards and it will help you memorise and internalise voicings. This is really important.
By ‘internalise’ I mean remember the formula. With jazz it is far more efficient to think in terms of numbers (or scale degrees) than to think of individual notes. So for example, with the So What Chord, from top to bottom, it contains the Root. 11th, b7th, b3rd and 5th. Knowing this formula means you can then apply it to any key (considering you know your major and minor scales!)
Above anything else, practice in context of jazz standards and always analyse what you are playing in terms of the scale degrees. Experiment with different voicings and when you find something that works, make a mental note of it and play the voicing in a few different keys so that you remember the construction in terms of scale degrees.
I help this helps answer your question?
Let me know if you would like me to elaborate on anything 🙂