Jazz Piano Chords: Quartal Voicings

[sg_popup id=474]Jazz-Piano-ChordsYour repertoire of jazz piano chords will undoubtedly include the exploration of quartal voicings if you are sincere in your interest in this art form. There is much to share when it comes to quartal voicings and we do acknowledge them in ProProach, too. Here we will look at one voicing in particular…
Quartal voicings are chord structures that are built using perfect 4th intervals. Let’s look at a quartal voicing that can be used for both major and minor chords. Suppose we had a melody note of C that was to be harmonized with with a C Major 7th or Major 6th chord.
Well if we start from that melody note and work our way down in perfect 4ths, we would have this:

C  G  D  A  E

Notice that there is a perfect 4th interval between each of the subsequent notes in this chord voicing. In relation to C Major chord, we have, from bottom to top this time:

E  A  D  G  C
3  6   9   5  1

Notice that we have no 7th chord in this chord voicing. However, it can often be used even when a Major 7th chord is called for. The 6 and 9 of this chord add nice flavor. In addition, the fact that the voicing consists of perfect 4ths makes for a more contemporary sound.

Now, let’s suppose that, with the same melody note (C), the chord asked for is an Amin7. Well, this voicing can still work. Yes, this is one of those jazz piano chords that has versatility! In relation to A minor, we have from bottom to top:

5  1  11  7  3 (the 11 is also the 4th)

Go ahead and play each of these voicings and, just before you play each, play the root in the bass area with the sustain pedal followed by the voicing. Do this with the C in the bass and then with the A and listen.

Is it necessary to play that root in the bass area with these voicings? No, but doing so will give you that extra substance or “bottom” when you’re looking for it, especially when playing those ballads as a soloist.

Since this chord voicing is built simply using perfect 4ths, it will be relatively easy to transpose this one to other keys. You are highly encouraged to do this.

Are you seeing how learning voicings of various textures is really conducive to your being a more mature stylist at those ivories? The more textures you learn , the more diversity you have.

Have fun with quartal voicings!