Quartal Comping Voicings For Jazz Piano
Welcome to this lesson on quartal 251 voicings. In previous lessons in the PianoGroove course, we have covered upper structure voicings, and also voicings built from 4th intervals such as the So What Voicing.
In this lesson we will combine this information to create some quartal upper structure voicings that are well suited to a comping setting.
We’re going to start by outline a few useful formulas that you can apply to 251s in any key to get some great sounding two-handed comping voicings.
There’s 3 general rules to follow when playing these 251 voicings:
Rule 1 is that for major and minor chords, the left-hand plays a stack of fourths and the right-hand plays a major triad.
Rule 2 is that for dominant chords, the left-hand plays a tritone interval, and again the right-hand plays a major triad.
Rule 3 is that for -7b5 chords, the left hand will play the root and the b5 of the chord, and the right-hand plays a major triad.
So your right hand will always be playing a major triad for all chords in the 251 progression – that applies to both major and minor 251s.
Similarities Between Quartal Voicings
If we take a closer look at these voicings, we can see that they share a lot of similarities with the 251 in Eb Major. We used the same stack of 4ths for the ii chord in both keys. This is because 4ths are tonally ambiguous and can function as many different chords or keys.
This is what makes them so well suited to comping, because it gives the soloist a lot of harmonic and melodic freedom.
Let’s finish by playing through the form of TWNBAY, and we will now add these quartal UST voicings in the place of the major 251s
In the same way that rootless left-hand voicings sound best around middle C, these quartal stacks sound the best right in the center of the piano.
Depending on the key, some of these voicing sets will work better than others.
In the key of C, I personally prefer the first 2 sets, as they are more in the sweet spot of the piano which is right around middle C.
- The trick to learning these voicings sets is to memorise the formulas.
Please publish the transcriptions in all of these lessons. ThanksAsk questions and get instant replies from our team of teachers. Get Started With PianoGroove Pro.