Five Essential Seventh Chords

The Five Essential Seventh Chords are the on-ramp to your jazz piano journey.

There are five types of seventh chords that make up the chord progressions to most tunes. Learn these and you have a solid foundation on which to begin your study of jazz piano.

The sixty chord drill streamlines the process of learning the chords by starting with the first, third, fifth and seventh notes of the major scale and then adjusting these notes by half step to form the remaining chord types through all twelve keys. In addition, you will learn how to read chord symbols and learn the chord changes to "It's Easy to Remember."

This is a full-featured FREE course. Try it out. If you like it, consider subscribing.

Five Essential Seventh Chords - Tunes

Watch as the sixty chord drill is used to build root position seventh chords to common standard tune progressions.

Rootless Voicings with Added Tension

These standard one-handed voicings (often erroneously referred to as left hand voicings) are the bedrock of every jazz pianists' technique. From Wynton Kelly and Red Garland to Tommy Flanagan, Bill Evans and beyond, these rich sounding voicings with their their smooth voice leading and effective use of tension, pervade bop and post-bop jazz piano.

This six part course will discuss both forms of the major and minor ii-V-I progression voicings (major A and B and minor A and B forms) and show you how to voice lead them in tunes.

Part 1 of 6 | Major A Form

The major A form of the voicings are introduced in this course within the context of major ii-V-I progressions in all twelve keys. The progressions to "Tune Up," "Afternoon in Paris," "Satin Doll," Rhythm Changes and Blues are covered as well.

Part 2 of 6 | Minor A Form

The minor A form of the voicings are introduced in this course within the context of minor ii-V-i progression in all twelve keys. The progressions to "Yesterdays," "Autumn Leaves," "But Beautiful" and "Sophisticated Lady" are covered as well.

Part 3 of 6 | Major B Form

This course repeats the content of Part 1 using the major B form of the voicings.

Part 4 of 6 | Minor B Form

This course repeats the content of Part 2 using the minor B form of the voicings.

Part 5 of 6 | Voice Leading Both Forms in Tunes

All four forms of the voicings are used to achieve voice leading perfection over the eight progressions of the tunes used in the previous four sections of this course.

Part 6 of 6 | Voicing Dim, Sus, Slash and other Chord Qualities

This is a catch-all course which covers the voicing of lesser used chord qualities by examining the progressions of "Dolphin Dance," "In Walked Bud," and "Someday My Prince Will Come."

Rootless Voicings with Added Tension - Tunes

Learn how to use rootless voicings with added tension to voice the chord changes to standard tunes.

Left Hand Comping

NEW Series! Just added

Comping is the skill of voicing, voice leading and applying rhythmic style to chords to provide a complementary harmonic and rhythmic accompaniment for a melody or improvised line.

This three part course will build on your knowledge of rootless voicings with added tension by showing you how to apply rhythmic style to your left hand voicings in support of right hand melodies and improvised lines.

Part 1: Rhythmic Placement, Duration and Activity

This course will introduce and explain the concepts of rhythmic placement, duration and activity and show students how to use them to comp chords to the changes of "Summertime."

Part 2: Improvised Comping

In this second part of the left hand comping series, students will build on their knowledge from part 1 by learning how to improvise their comping through the use of the graduated improvised comping technique.

Part 3: Stylistic Considerations

The third and final part of the left hand comping series, students will take their comping knowledge and apply it to three common rhythmic feels in jazz: latin/bossa, 3/4 waltz time and ballad.

Using the chord changes to three representative tunes, "Blue Bossa," "Alice in Wonderland," and "Peace," students will learn the characteristics of each style and how to adapt their comping to suit the requirements of each rhythmic feel.

This is part three of a three part series of courses on left hand comping. It is intended that you will work through the courses in sequence from part 1 through 3.

Wondering where to start?

Check out the Road Map to plan your study.

Solo Jazz Piano

The beauty of our chosen instrument is the ability to play alone -solo- without the accompaniment (or interference) of others. Anything you can dream up is fair game when you are on your own. Based on a transcription of Cedar Walton playing "Someday My Prince Will Come," from his 2005 High Note album "Underground Memoirs," Part 1 in this series gives you the tools to play solo jazz piano by demonstrating and explaining the fundamental technique to this style, spread voicings with independent lead. Part 2 shows you how to mix rootless voicings into your solo playing. Part 3 demonstrates how to accompany your own improvisation when playing solo.

Part 1 of 3 | Spread Voicings with Independent Lead

Get started playing solo jazz piano with this course by learning spread voicings with independent lead. These voicings produce a rich, full sound and are used for playing the head of tunes. The right hand supports the rhythmically independent melody with guide tones and the left hand plays root-based shell voicings.

Spread Voicings with Independent Lead - Tunes

After completing Part 1 of the Solo Jazz Piano course, learn how to play spread voicings to standard tunes.

Part 2 of 3 | Combining Spread & Rootless Voicings

Tommy Flanagan's solo over the changes to the tune "The Very Thought of You," from his 1977 Denon release "Alone Too Long," opens this course and serves as a model for the use of spread and rootless voicings in solo jazz piano. This course builds on Solo Jazz Piano Part 1, in which the technique of playing solo jazz piano was established with the use of spread voicings. In addition to the analysis of Tommy Flanagan's transcription, "Come Rain or Come Shine," I Hear a Rhapsody," "These Foolish Things" and two more standard tunes are realized using these voicing techniques in this course.

Spread & Rootless Voicings - Tunes

After completing Part 2 of the Solo Jazz Piano course, learn how to combine spread and rootless to play lush, full realizations of standard tunes.

Part 3 of 3 | Improvising While Playing Solo

Improvising while playing solo piano is a lot like juggling. You have to do four things at once: you have to play the solo, comp for the solo, play the bassline and keep things moving rhythmically. Bill Charlap's solo over the changes to the tune "Somebody Loves Me," from his 2005 solo piano EP "Bill Charlap Rolling Stone Original," opens this course and serves as a model for how to manage this juggling act. Building on the Solo Jazz Piano Part 1 and Part 2 courses, his solo is analyzed in this course to uncover how to keep the balls in the air by using shell and rootless voicings in support of the right hand line.

Two-Handed Voicings

Two-handed voicings are an essential element of jazz piano. Most often used for comping, two handed voicings are integral to solo playing, improvising and arranging. Based on a transcription of Red Garland improvising over the title track of John Coltrane's 1957 album with the Red Garland Trio "Traneing In," Part 1 introduces the versatile open fiffth voicing technique. Part 2 derives "So What" two-handed voicings from a transcription of the tune of the same name from the classic 1959 Miles Davis recording "Kind of Blue." Part 3 explores the rich, bitonal sounds of upper structure triads.

Part 1 of 3 | Open Fifth Voicings

The open fifth voicing technique introduced in this course is perhaps most associated with the style of Red Garland, the early bop pianist. These voicings can have up to seven notes and are equally suited for the divergent tasks of harmonizing an improvised line, harmonizing a melody or for comping. All of these roles are considered in this course using a transcription of Red Garland's solo over the tune "Traineing In," the title track of John Coltrane's 1957 album with the Red Garland Trio.

Part 2 of 3 | So What and Pure Fourth Voicings

The music on Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" was influential on many levels: it ushered in the style of modality, it introduced a new voice to jazz piano, Bill Evans, it established several new standard tunes to the repertoire and went on to become the best selling jazz album of all time. It's influence extends literally down to the piano voicings that Bill Evans played on one of the most popular tunes on the recording and in all of the jazz repertoire, "So What." Known as "So What" voicings, the notes of these two-handed chords are arranged with a major third above a stack of perfect fourth intervals. "So What" voicings confer a modern sound and are a versatile two-handed voicing technique that can be used equally as well for comping or solo playing. In this course, the "So What" voicings are derived from a transcription of Bill Evans' comping the changes to their namesake tune and their use is applied to traditional tonal progressions. A closely related technique of voicing chords using only fourth intervals is explored as well, synthesizing both techniques into a unifed method for two-handed chord voicings.

Part 3 of 3 | Upper Structure Triad Voicings

Upper structure triads have been an enduring feature of jazz since the early Bebop era. This chord voicing technique produces a rich, bitonal effect that can be used for harmonizing melodies, comping and improvising melodic lines. This course opens with an analysis of Bill Evans' use of upper structure triad voicings in harmonizing the melody to "My Romance" from his 1961 "Live at the Village Vanguard" recording. The course continues with the derivation of all possible upper structure triad voicings for all five essential 7th chord qualities and a discussion of how to use this versatile technique for melodic harmonization, comping and improvisation.

Two-Handed Comping

The word "comp" as it is used in jazz is probably derived from the word accompany. It may also come from the word complement. In either case, when you are asked to "comp" in an ensemble setting rarely are you given more direction as to what to do than whatever vague meaning either of those words may imply: to play in a complementary way. In this course, a transcription of Wynton Kelly's comping behind the flute soloist Bobby Jasper over the changes to his Bb blues head "Kelly Blue," from his 1959 sextet album of the same name is used as a model for deriving and codifying the essential elements of good two-handed comping: two-handed voicings, voice leading, rhythmic placement, duration and activity. The application of each element is discussed in the context of standard tunes in common jazz styles such as mid tempo swing, up tempo swing, ballad, latin and 3/4 waltz time.

Two-Handed Comping - Tunes

Learn how to comp over the changes of standard tunes.

Block Chord Harmonization

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 course, 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.

Artist Voicings

What voicings do the pros use? How do they use them? How can I apply these voicing techniques to my own playing? These are some of the most common yet vexing questions from intermediate and early advanced jazz piano players that this series of courses hopes to address. Each course in the series examines a transcription of a major jazz pianist (Danny Grissett and Taylor Eigsti) and looks at how they voice chords, the ways in which they use them and shows you strategies for applying them to tunes. Use the voicings to enrich and enliven your harmonic concept and inspire you to think out-of-the-box to create new sounds and colors.

Part 1 | Danny Grissett

Learn the voicing techniques that Danny Grissett uses in his solo piano introduction to Jimmy Van Heusen's "It Could Happen to You," from his 2008 Criss Cross release, "Encounters."

Part 2 | Taylor Eigsti

Three voicing techniques from the beautiful solo piano introduction to Taylor Eigsti's tune "Midnight After Noon" from his 2010 Concord Records release, "Daylight at Midnight," are examined in this course: a dramatic voicing without a third, an ascending major chord line cliche and rich drop 2 voicings. Learn how he uses them, the theory that makes them work and strategies for incorporating these devices into your own playing.

Still not sure if JazzPianoOnline is right for you?

Write to me and I'll help you figure it out.