Piano Jazz Chords
Rootless Voicings

When learning piano jazz chords you will first need to know about chord extensions or "tensions" that add jazz flavor to the harmony and melodic elements of jazz. Once you understand them (7ths, 9ths, 11ths and 13ths) you can begin to find interesting and cool sounding jazz voicings.

Custom Search

This lesson assumes you are comfortable with the concepts of chord formulas as derived from the major scale and chord inversions. If you need help with those concepts you may want to review those lessons.

What is a rootless voicing?

In its simplest terms a rootless voicing is just a chord with out a root.

It is common practice for most pianists to omit the root from their voicings because they are usually playing with a bass player.

Another practical reason for for leaving out the root is that with piano jazz chords which often will add 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths, if we try an play all the possible notes of the chord we would run out of fingers at least in our left hand.

If you want to hear some piano jazz chords rootless voicing style you would do well to listen to some recordings by Bill Evans or Oscar Peterson who were responsible for developing this style.

In the image below we have removed the Roots from some commonly seen Chords (symbols) seen in Jazz Music and elsewhere.

Notice there are no C's anywhere in the chords (rootless) and that the Camj6 chord has the same notes as Amin7, the Cmaj7 could also be seen as a root position Emin7 and the Cmin7 is a root position Ebmaj7 chord.

I point this out so you will begin to see that many of the chords you may already know can take on a whole different fuction depending on what the Bass player is doing with the root of the chord.

There are two basic voicing positions for these notes, the so-called "A" and "B" voicings. Both voicings place the notes as close together as possible.

Below are the A and B voicings for Minor 7th, Major 7th and Doninant 7TH chords. Leaving out the Root allows us to add the 9ths 11ths and 13ths.

A and B Voicings for a Rootless Minor 7th Chord

On a minor chord with minor 7th:

beginning on the 3rd:       3rd - 5th - 7th - 9th
or beginning on the 7th:   7th - 9th - 3rd - 5th

A and B voicings for a Dominant 7th Chord

On a dominant 7th chord:

beginning on the 3rd:        3rd - 6th - 7th - 9th
or beginning on the 7th:    7th - 9th - 3rd - 6th

A and B  voicnigs for a Major 7th Chord

On a major 7th chord:

beginning on the 3rd:         3rd - 5th - 6th - 9th
                                 or: 3rd - 5th - 7th - 9th
or beginning on the 7th:     7th - 9th - 3rd - 5th

The structure of the A voicing for a dominant chord is 3-13-7-9 and for the B voicing 7-9-3-13.

Moving in a ii-V relationship from a Minor 7 chord to a Dominant 7 chord involves shifting just one note and switching from an A voicing to a B voicing (or vice versa). For example, to move from Gm7 to C7, one can play (remember, the root notes are played by the bass):

As you can see, to change from Gm7 to C7 only the F moves down to E.

Bill Evans and others did not stick strictly to these voicings, but added their own variations by changing the order of the notes and omitting or adding notes.

In the video you will see how these rootless voicings look and sound on the keyboard.

Contact me

If you have any questions, suggestions, or ideas for future lessons feel free to Contact Me.

The Best Home Study Course for Learning Jazz and Blues Piano

Have you always wanted to learn to play jazz & blues on the piano but never had the time or money?

Or couldn't find the right person or course to teach you the "real" stuff?

If so, I've definitely found someone who can help you.

I'm talking about James Wrubel, an amazing musician and expert instructor. He's been there and back as a professional jazz musician and has played with some of the top names in the industry.

In two dvds and over 2 hours of step-by-step instruction, he takes you by the hand and shows you how to master tons of jazz & blues tricks and techniques as well as signature soloing secrets that'll have you sounding like you've been playing for years.

Here's some highlights.

Discover: * How to quickly and easily form tons of chord patterns and runs that'll have you sounding pro almost overnight.

* How to accelerate your jazz learning curve by combining 3 secret elements pros don't want you to know!

* How to pack every chord and voicing with just the right amount of flavor to get the job done.

* 7 secrets to playing signature solos without hesitation or even thinking about anything.

* And much more.

Check out the ink below for more information on this great program

Hear and play Jazz 101

from Piano Jazz Chords to free Piano Lessons For Life Home

Copyright piano-lessons-for-life.com

Solo Build It!

Custom Search

I need your help!

If you enjoyed this article please click the Facebook Like button and help me continue to provide these free lessons.

Thank You!!

Sign up for Free Lesson Alerts from Personal Piano Professor!

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Free Piano Lessons.