- Remember the defining notes of the chord are the 3rd and 7th and the root if you are playing without a bass player.
- Try to avoid chord voicings built using only 3rds. This is very subjective and is a “soft” rule.
- Use tensions to create fuller sounding chords
I get asked a lot “How do you create those BIG chord voicings and Jazz Piano Chords?” Well, it is not as difficult as it might seem. In this article I am going to share with you my thoughts on good vs. poor chord voicings. What is a chord voicing? Chord voicings are basically how you arrange the notes of any chord. For instance, let’s use a C Major triad as an example. We could play all three notes C-E-G together and play them up high on the keyboard or way down low. We could choose to re-arrange the notes so that the note E or G is the bottom note. So, it might look like this: C <— top note G E <— bottom note Or like this: E C G <- bottom note. You could even go so far as to play the lowest C on the piano, have someone play an E in the middle and someone else play the highest G. So, chord voicings are all about how you arrange the notes of any chord. Now this last example is extreme and not practical for everyday use on the piano. But it is interesting because when you hear a symphony or large orchestra, this IS what is going on. The different instruments space out the notes of the chord with basses usually on the bottom and violins or instruments like flute, piccolo on top…usually. Low Interval Limits When creating these chord voicings it is important to understand that certain intervals have lower limits. Go to your instrument and play a C-E together as low as possible. It will not sound very pleasant on a piano and you would probably say that it is “muddy” or even indistinguishable. Whereas the interval of an octave can be played all the way down to the low ‘A’ on the piano. Octaves and Fifths can be played the lowest on the piano. Thirds and Fourths can not go as low. A Major 3rd can go about as low as an octave and a half below middle C. Seconds sound good to about an octave below middle C. Now, it is important to realize that these “rules” are subjective and what is tense to one person might be pleasant sounding to another. Creating Better Chord Voicings and Big Jazz Chords When creating chord voicings here are a few tips that will help you maximize your chord sound.