There are a number of common chord progressions that you will find in virtually every jazz standard. After learning and memorising these important progressions you will have a much clearer understanding of jazz harmony.
The 251 progression is the most common progression in jazz. It is the DNA of jazz music and it must be learnt and memorised in all 12 keys.Download
This variation of the minor 251 starts with the II-11b5 chord. This is a rich sounding -7b5 chord and is useful for both solo piano and for comping.Download
Rootless voicings sound more professional then root based voicings and they voice lead much more smoothly in the context of a 251 progression.Download
The trick with learning minor the 251 progression is to visualize the starting position, if you can find that the rest of the progression will fall into place.Download
This variation of the minor 251 uses a -11b5 as the 2 chord. You have multiple options for alterations over the V chord including #5#9 and b9#5.Download
Create killer introductions with these formulas. We provide the numeric notation so that you can build these sweet progressions in every key.Download
These 4 & 6-note comping voicings are suited to a trio or big band performance. We cover notation examples in both major and minor keys.Download
Chords & Voicings
Being able to construct a wide range of chords and voicings is an essential skill for the jazz pianist. Below you can find a selection of downloadable PDF files containing the most common chords and voicings in all 12 keys:
This download contains a number of common voicings for major, minor, dominant, suspended and diminished chords. Numeric formulas included for each chord.Download
Follow this plan until you are comfortable with the theory exercises. This will take time so don’t expect it to happen overnight. Mastering these exercises is a gradual process that you will take over many months or even years.Download
The triad is the basic building block of many different types of chord. Triads will more than likely be the first types of chords you come across.Download
Most chords you will come across in jazz piano will be one of these five types of chords and so it’s important to understand their function.Download
Each major scale contains 7 diatonic 7th chords. They are used to create common progressions such as major 251s and 1625 turnarounds.Download
The Herbie Hancock voicing is a rich-sounding, two-handed minor 11th chord. Download the Herbie Hancock voicing in all 12 keys here.Download
Download the Kenny Barron voicing in all 12 keys. This resource contains both the major and minor variations of this very useful chord voicing:Download
The ‘So What’ chord is a stack of three 4th intervals with a major 3rd on top. It’s a useful voicing over minor chords with the 5th in the melody.Download
Rich an lush extended chords are one of the hallmarks of jazz piano. This lesson supplements contains a number of useful extended chord voicings.Download
This is a supplement for the major voicings lesson. We outline a range of major voicings that can be used under each note of the Lydian mode.Download
Learn to play sus chords and add suspended harmony to your arrangements. This document includes both basic and advanced applications.Download
Scales & Modes
The major and minor scales are an essential step in learning jazz piano. They provide a pool of notes for you to choose from when improvising and set the foundations for further modal scale study.
The 12 major scales provide the foundation for further scales study. Learn these scales thoroughly so that you can play them by memory.Download
There are 3 types of minor scale: natural minor, melodic minor and harmonic minor. Each scale has a different use and application in jazz piano.Download
The major pentatonic scale is built from the 1, 2, 3, 5 & 6 degrees of the major scale. It’s used for improvisation and also to build chord voicings.Download
Listen to McCoy Tyner and John Coltrane to get an understanding of the types of sounds created through improvising with pentatonic scales.Download
The half-whole diminished scale is an 8 note symmetrical scale. It’s played over altered dominant chords and has tensions b9, #9 & #11.Download
This is a supplement to lesson on “How To Play Swing Rhythm”. If you come from a classical background you will need to work on swing feel.Download
A mode is essentially a scale with an exotic name. We can derive 7 modes from the major scale which can be used for improvisation in major keys.Download
Also known as the ‘jazz minor scale’, these modes are exotic sounding scales that can be substituted in place of less interesting harmonies.Download
Useful Books & Apps
The New Real Book contains a more modern selection of tunes. It features many of the classic jazz standards and also some newer fusion tunes.
This book contains most of the tunes from PianoGroove’s jazz standard tutorials and we recommend that you buy yourself a copy.
iReal Pro simulates a real-sounding band to accompany you as you practice. Instant download of 1300 jazz standard backing tracks.
Spotify is a great resource for jazz records and albums. Regular listening and transcription is an important part of your learning journey.
Transcribe is a useful program for transcribing lines and solos. The simple interface allows you to slow down the recording and A/B loop playback.