How To Play 3-Note Spread Voicings
Welcome to lesson 2 in our course on cocktail jazz piano improvisation. In this lesson we are going to arrange the A section of the tune “Misty” with 3-note spread voicings.
In the previous lesson of this course we explored some diatonic voicing exercises in the key of Eb Major. We are now going to apply these voicings in context of the tune “Misty”.
What Are 3-Note Spread Voicings?
3-Note Spread voicings contain the root or tonic and the “essential chord tones” which are the 3rd and 7th degrees of the chord. Whilst these voicings can sound basic it’s important to be able to visualise these essential components of the harmony. In the next lessons we will introduce more sophisticated sounds with extended and altered harmony.
The quality of any chord (major, minor, or dominant) is defined by the 3rd and 7th and so harmonising a tune using 3-note spread voicings forces us to visualise the most essential components of the harmony.
The Form & Structure Of “Misty”
“Misty” follows an AABA form which means that the first 8 bars repeats 3 times within the 32 bar form. Due to this repetition it’s important that we understand the harmony of the A Section and also the voicing options available to us.
For the most part, we will voice the chords with the melody in our right hand pinky, the root with our left hand pinky, and the 3rd and 7th of the chord somewhere in between. This is the basic concept to build spread voicings.
Spread Voicings Notation File Type: pdf
Experiment by adding the 5th into your voicings to create a thicker sound than just the R-3-7 spread voicings composition. The 5th is an optional tone which adds more depth in the lower registers.
If you are new to jazz piano it may challenging to visualise the notes of the 7th chord split between 2 hands, but with practice this will become more natural and comfortable.
Pay special attention to the voice leading which is the 7ths falling to the 3rds in 25, 251, and 3625 progressions.
7ths falling to 3rds are also an important component of improvised melody lines which we will explore in the next module.