Block-chord harmonization (also known as locked-hands playing) is the technique of harmonizing each note of a melody with a three- or four-note chord to create a lush, full-bodied sound reminiscent of the sax sections of the swing era big bands. Popularized by George Shearing in the 1950s and used extensively by Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson and all manner of straight-ahead jazz pianists since then, it remains a fundamental skill of the modern player. A transcription of Dave Brubeck's "The Duke" is used to introduce the concepts of this technique in this lesson, followed by the note-by-note block chord harmonization of excerpts of three tunes, "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," "You Make Me Feel So Young," and "What Am I Here For?" demonstrating three ways to create standard block-chord harmonizations: four-way close, four-way close double lead, and drop 2. The accompanying PDF practice sessions will guide you further through the harmonization of these and other tunes.
Watch this short video for an overview of the content of this course.
Five Essential Seventh Chords
Rootless Voicings with Added Tension
Introduction to Chordscale Theory
Related ii Chords
Chordscales of Major ii-V-I Progressions
Chordscales of Minor ii-V-i Progressions
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About the instructor
Bill did undergraduate work at the Berklee College of Music and holds the M.Mus. degree in Jazz Studies from the Boston Conservatory/Berklee College of Music where he studied with Ray Santisi and Charlie Banacos. Bill taught and played extensively around the Boston area for the better part of two decades appearing everywhere from the legendary Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge MA to a long stand at the Hampshire House on Beacon Hill in Boston before relocating to the Raleigh-Durham NC area where he teaches full-time on JazzPianoOnline.com.