As a cocktail piano player, you will absolutely benefit from making it a point to acquaint yourself with open chord voicings. There are many, of course, and rather than being concerned with what you don’t know in this area, it will serve you better to “open” your mind (pun intended) to looking at the chords that you already know from the perspective that they can be opened.
Some examples have already been illustrated here on the site but, for our purposes here, let’s just take a brief look at what is meant by “open chord voicings.” As for most of us, when we first learn a few chords on the piano, we usually learn then in their most basic form. A G7 chord, for example, in its most basic form in root position looks like this:
G B D F
This chord is said to be in “root position” because the letter name of the chord (G) is at the bottom of the chord (as the root of a tree is at the bottom). The chord is also considered to be in closed position (as opposed to open) because the chord tones are as close to each other as they could be in this position.
Now, if we take any of those middle chord tones, either the B or D, and place it in another area of the keyboard such as an octave higher or lower, then the chord will be turned into an open chord voicing. Here is one possibility:
G D F B
The G and D may be played with the left hand and the F and B may be played with the right hand. The B that was originally between the G and D is not being played. Thus, the chord has been opened.
Of course, this is just one simple example. There are many ways to create open chord voicings. You can take a chord like the G7 above and take out both of the middle chord tones (both the D and F) and move them up an octave. A free ebook that explains this particular open chord voicing in more detail may be accessed simply by clicking here. Do this with every 7th chord that you know and you’ve really opened yourself up to some possibilities! That’s right. By adopting a mind set that is ready to view all those chords in an “open” fashion, you automatically set yourself up to add a whole lot more interest to your playing.
Have lots of fun exploring open chord voicings and as you do so, remember…
PLAY WITH PASSION!