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 F13#11b9. 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… (piano chord)… but I think it works because the voice leading is really good. So important with your voicings. Okay?

So we got so those, that bottom and 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 step kind of cool shape.

And then this one I love –  number four – that minor eleven (with a) perfect fourth in the middle. And you know this is very close to a sort of a typical Cmin9 chord, right? Just one note difference sliding that fifth down to the fourth gives it that really modern sound.

And then this is a real atypical chord but I love, I love how it sounds. And you know it’s like a real basic Ab major but as an Fmin11 it works even without (the 7)… You think you’d have to have the 7th in there but you don’t.

Then the G7 – back to some nice tension. And we got a minor second, half step, and then 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 Ebmaj. 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 almost like an Abmaj7 with the root on top over the Eb.

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

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