Jazz & Cocktail Piano: Rootless Voicings
Recently, I sent out a message that acknowledged rootless voicings. A rootless voicing is a piano chord voicing that does not contain the root of the chord. When it comes to how many are available to explore, the sky’s the limit. I’ll also mention that it’s well worth your while to familiarize yourself with them.
Here are a few examples of rootless voicings:
You can see that the root of the chord is missing in all three examples above. Isn’t it interesting how the first voicing actually looks like an Fmaj7 chord… and that next one, the Cmaj9, doesn’t include the 5th of the chord. When it comes to piano chord voicings, there are lots of interesting tid-bits to learn, as you may already know if you’ve
become involved with ProProach. It’s a fascinating journey and once you begin, you’ll never want to go back : o ))
Rootless voicings are very often used by jazz pianists for a few reasons:
1) When playing with a bass player, playing rootless voicings is preferred because the bass player is already playing the root, which makes it unnecessary
2) Playing the root at the same time as the bass player can result in some harshness if there is even a slight intonation problem between the bass and piano
3) Even when playing solo piano, rootless chord voicings provide a variety of textures that are available for creating different types of interesting sound effects
4) Not having to play the root “frees up the fingers” a bit to play play color tones or extensions,
including 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths
Just a word for those who arrived at this page for whom the entire concept of piano chord voicings is new… it’s a whole new world. You can learn all the chords that are to be learned via textbooks, etc., but opening your mind to taking the leap to learn some voicings will result in opening doors that you did not previously imagine. Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by them! Instead, get excited about the benefits to getting involved with them, as they are plenty. The great thing is that learning just one can change things around for you. That’s a reason why we focus on just a little at a time in ProProach since you are encouraged to spend a good amount of time with eacn concept, applying what you are learning to your own favorite songs. If you’ve inspired to discover some things you never have before, treat yourself to that program. It won’t take the entire 24 weeks for your confidence to soar. More importantly, the fun you’ll have will speak for itself : o )
May I encourage you to play and listen to those three voicings shown in the illustrations above? Also, consider transposing them to different keys. Imagine if you learned all of them in a number of different keys… wow! Talk about a confidence booster!