7 Cool Left Hand Voicings – Peter Martin | 2-Minute Jazz

Jazz pianists are always looking for “cool” voicings – “Hey, show me a cool voicing!”

But I always like to think of voicings as part of a progression, not just a static chord by itself.

I’ve laid out seven voicings that may be new to you, and that you may enjoy adding to your left-hand arsenal. Even if you know some of these individual voicings, this progression and voice leading will likely be new.

Some thoughts on each voicing:

  1. I love the sound and tension of this chord, and I love how the shape fits comfortably in my hand. There’s some great symmetry to it as well: Two minor 3rds separated by a perfect 4th.
  2. #1 leads nicely, if unexpectedly to #2, thanks to some great voice leading between the two. Note that this voicing also works over a Gbma+5 sound.
  3. This is easy adjustment from #2, just 1 note changes, but it’s a different sound and feel. Interesting shape: a minor 2nd and a major 2nd separated by a major 3rd.
  4. From #3 to #4 we spread out a bit with the voice leading to a very modern sounding and wide 4 note voicing that I love. Note that this voicing has just one small adjustment from the typical rootless four-note minor-9 voicing of stacked diatonic thirds.
  5. This chord is our first three note voicing, so there will naturally be some built-in voice leading drama coming from the previous four notes. It’s easy to think that this chord wouldn’t work without the 7th, but in this situation, it fits quite nicely.
  6. With the addition of this chord, we are again immersed in some nice tension over a dominant chord, and we’re back to four notes. Note the shape of two close intervals: a minor 2nd and a minor 3rd, separated by a perfect 4th.
  7. The final voicing would not work on the basis of typical voice leading rules, but here it definitely does, even with the added 4th which gives it just the right amount of “suspension”, but still feels like a pretty great ending point.

Please comment below with your thoughts about these cool left-hand voicings – Happy Practicing!

What’s going on? I’m Peter Martin. Those are the seven cool left-hand voicings for you. Let’s hear them again. Number one, number two, number three, number four, that’s number five, number six, and number seven. Okay ,now you hear I’m playing them all as part of a progression. I always think of voicings as coming from somewhere and going to somewhere. So whenever people are asking me about it, “Show me a cool voicing.” I always like to try to put it in context.

Now I want, I want you to hear it also with the root note. These are all rootless voicings. This gives you a little more harmonic
context. Okay? Now let’s just talk a little bit about them. This first, number one that’s the F 13 sharp 11 flat 9. It’s a nice tension. Two minor thirds, great shape. You know, I always think about how chords feel as well as how they sound. How they look a little bit but in terms of the symmetry and how it feels, you got that perfect fourth, then you got two minor thirds. So, you know, as you take this through different keys, kind of something to think about.

So a lot of tension. Now instead of kind of going where it’d be a little bit more typical: 5 to 1 resolution, we’re going: but I think it
works because the voice thing is really good.

So important with your voicings. Okay? So we got so those, that bottom in the second from the top note going up and down respectively. And then these two stay the same. And then that minor sixth. this is separated by a major third a whole step and a half some kind of culture and then this one I love number four that minor eleven perfect fourth in the middle and you know this is very close to a sort of a typical C minor nine chord right just one no different sliding that fifth down to the fourth isn’t that really modern sound and then this is a real atypical core but I love, I love how it sounds and you know it’s like a real basic a flat major but as an F minor 11 it works even without but it works better without them with this.

You think you’d have to have the seventh in there but you know then the G7 will go back to some nice tension and we got a minor second half step we’ve got a minor 3rd on top again separated by that perfect fourth.

You sort of see a theme with those perfect fourths and then instead of kind of resolving down where you’d expect we’re gonna go to the E flat major. Now this chord should not work but it does. So normally, you think of that major sixth sound as being a little bit corny, but we got the sixth in the root- oh so I lied at the beginning. I said rootless voicings this one does have a root but root, the third and then the fourth. Which should give it much more tension than it does. I don’t know, that’s like a real pleasing sound and I think
it’s because it’s I guess almost like an A-flat major seventh with the root on top over the E-flat.

Okay anyway, have fun with those some cool left-hand voicings for you.