Chapter 16 of 25 from Herbie Hancock

Chord Voicings

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There’s a near-infinite number of ways play chords on your instrument. Learn some of Herbie’s go-to approaches, and let them spark your own experimentation.

Topics include: Inverted Voicings for the ii-V-I • Practicing Inverted Voicings • Spreading Voicings

Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock Teaches Jazz

Learn to improvise, compose, and develop your own sound across 25 video lessons.

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OK. It's time to talk about chord voicings. We can experiment with different kinds of voicings that we can use, for a lot of purposes, to keep the music interesting to not only the listener but keep it interesting to yourself. If you're going to be playing, it better be interesting to you in order for you to deliver it, you know, for real, to the people out there. In jazz, we talk about the ii-V-I relationship. And say you're in the key of D, right? OK, and then the two-- [CHORD] --is the E-minor seventh. And the A seventh-- well, basically A seventh-- [CHORD] --is that. But it can also be-- [CHORD] And back to-- so that's ii-- [CHORD] [CHORD] --V-- [CHORD] [CHORD] No, it wasn't that. [CHORD] That was my mistake! [LAUGH] [CHORD] But then there's iii-VI-ii-V, which is-- Basically it's that. But-- I did the same thing, except I didn't put the root note on the bottom. I voiced a lot of chords with the fifth on the bottom or the third on the bottom. Because it really changes the quality of the sound. Even if you take a-- right now, I'm playing in the key of D, right? OK. I mean, you can play a D chord like this-- [CHORD] --as a D-major ninth. And you can play like this. [CHORD] Or you can play it like this. [CHORD] And all I did was change the root note, from the-- [NOTE] --root to the-- [NOTE] I got the third on the bottom-- [CHORD] [CHORD] --which is called "first inversion." [CHORD] And this is second inversion, putting the A on the bottom, or the fifth on the bottom. [CHORDS] But what I've learned, over the years, is to be able to move through keys, using different combinations of the root, the third, and the fifth on the bottom, for major and minor chords. For example, OK, let's take this. [CHORD] That's a D chord. It's a D-major chord, because you've got D-- [NOTES] --F sharp, and you've got A. But I threw this in, too. [TAPPED NOTES] That's the ninth. [CHORD] But there's a certain voicing I'm using. But that's a whole other subject. [CHORD] OK, so, we were talking about iii-VI-- OK. [CHORD] Now, with the third on the bottom-- right? Now-- uh-- Let me do it this way. [CHORD] Let me see. [CHORDS] Uh, [INAUDIBLE] not right. Let me do that again. [CHORDS] There we go. [CHORDS] Yeah, I make mistakes, too. "Mistakes." [LAUGH] So, anyway, that was basically the same thing as-- --except I don't have the root note on the bottom. What I would suggest that you do, to get some sense of it for yourself, and what exercise you might be able to do is, first of all, to-- I mean, if you're comfortable-- [CHORD] --playing a chord like that, or a chord-- [CHORD] --like that, or whatever you're comfortable with, even if it's that. [CHORD] If you play-- [CHORD] --C-major seventh, in the root position-- now, if you want to put the third on the bottom-- [NOTE] --what really works well-- [NOTE] --is actually to put the root note-- [NOTE] --above that third. [...

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Herbie Hancock’s jazz career started in his family’s living room, listening to his favorite records and trying to play along. Now, he’s one of the most celebrated musicians in the world. Join Herbie at the piano as he shares his approach to improvisation, composition, and harmony. Gain access to 10+ original piano transcriptions, including 5 exclusive solo performances.

Watch, listen, and learn as Herbie shows you how to take your music to the next level.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

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Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock Teaches Jazz