Piano Chord Voicings – Once you have a handle on some chords and are feeling pretty confident with accompanying your melodies with them, you will absolutely become inspired to take things to the next level of professionalism by turning those piano chords into sounds that will really turn heads of those listening! One of the secrets to making this happen? Piano chord voicings.
What are they?
Let’s say we know how to play a Cmaj7 (C major seven) chord in its most basic form, which is illustrated here:
C E G B
There is nothing wrong with playing this chord in this way. However, if we just go so far as to make one little change with this chord by rearranging the order of these chord tones a little, we have what is commonly referred to as a piano chord voicing. In the following illustration, we have simply taken the E and placed it above. So, that E is played one octave higher than it was originally:
C G B E
When you play this chord voicing, you’ll notice the wider interval between the C and G and the distance from the B to E is also larger. You see, this is one of the interesting aspects of playing piano chord voicings. The texture of the chord sound becomes modified due to these changes of intervals while the same functionality of the chord is maintained. If you haven’t already, play the two examples above on your piano or keyboard and listen to the difference!
There are several ways to create piano chord voicings. We can rearrange the chord tones as we have done a little above, we can leave certain chord tones out at times, and we can even double certain chord tones. In short, the sky’s the limit!
Any chord can be voiced, including a simple triad. However, once you’ve gotten a bit of a handle on some 7th chords, your appreciation for the art of chord voicing will escalate. Once you start exploring some of these chord voicings, your confidence will escalate as well!
If you know some 7th chords, I encourage you to have some fun playing them in their basic positions and then taking one of the chord tones and moving it elsewhere on the keyboard and play the resulting chord voicing. Listen! Play! Listen! Make it a game… chord voicings are fun to play around with! As a cocktail piano player, you will want to make this exploration of chord voicings a regular part of your musical diet. You’ll be so very glad you did!