The Chord Voicings of Bill Evans and Horace Silver

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The Ultimate Chord Symbol Guide

Lesson Transcript

Okay, so let's take a look at the "So What" chord voicing. This is the chord voicing that Bill Evans used in the song "So What" by Miles Davis. So both chords of the same voicing here. This is in D minor. So let's take a look at this chord voicing applied to a C minor seven chord. In our left hand, we're going to play the root and the fourth, and in our right hand, gonna play the minor seventh, the minor third, and then on top we're gonna add the fifth of the chord which is G. And this is our voicing. And it's just a stack of fourths up from the root, but then with a major third on top. And it would be perfect for any time you see a minor seven chord in the chord sheets, and the melody note is the fifth. This would be a great chord voicing to play, and you can do all sorts of things with this chord voicing. It sounds very good if you go around side-slipping it, basically moving it in parallel. I'm just transposing the same voicing. In fact, that's what Bill Evans does in "So What." He plays an E minor seven, going to D minor seven, and he uses the same voicing. And that would be a great way to ingrain this voicing, would be to just do some slip-slipping, where you just build the same voicing pattern from different group notes, and move this voicing up and down by half-steps and whole-steps.

So block chords are another type of voicing that jazz piano players can play. They can have a very nice and dated sound. So there's different voicing patterns that you can use for block chords, but one of my favorite ways just to start simply, is just to enclose each chord voicing in an octave. So let's say you had a C minor seven chord, and the melody note was the ninth which is a D. Well, you would start by doubling the D down an octave, and then you just want to contain the rest of the chord voicing between these two notes. So that just means you want to get as many of the chordal tones and to fit them in between this octave. The chordal tones are just the root, third, fifth, and seventh of whatever chord it is. So I might play this, and I could squeeze in the C as well, but it's actually good principle to give a bit of space to the melody note, so you don't really want a whole step below. It just makes it hard for the ear to spot the melody notes. So, I might skip out the C for this one, and just play the third, the fifth, and the seventh enclosed in the ninth. And then when the melody note changes, you change the bottom octave with it. And then you're just trying to fill in as many of the chordal tones within that octave.

Okay, so let's take a look at a really nice chord voicing. Now, this is for a C seven sus four. So let's just take a look at this chord without the voicing. This would be C dominant seven sus four. It's basically when you take a C dominant seven chord, but instead of playing the major third, you shift the third up and play the fourth instead. This is the suspended fourth, that's why it's called a sus four. So this is a modification you can do to dominant seven chords. But now let's take a look at the voicing. It's quite a simple voicing. We're just going to play the root in our left hand, the C. And in our right hand, we're gonna play a B flat major triad. Now as with most jazz chords, it doesn't sound amazing on its own, but when you put it in context, it does. So this is a dominant seven chord. Dominant seven chords like to resolve down a fifth. Hit it to an F major seven chord or an F minor seven chord. So I'm demonstrating this sus chord built from C. So it's gonna resolve down to either of these. Now I call this the Horace Silver Sus 4 Chord. Why? Well, Horace Silver uses this voicing in his song, "Song for My Father." There's this lovely bit at the end of each line pretty much. So the music is in F minor, makes its way down to this dominant chord, C dominant seven. And he plays C in the root and then in the right hand you just play a B flat major triad. And it resolves really nicely to F minor nine. You get really nice voice leading here. If you go to an A flat major seven chord, which is the voicing he uses for the F minor nine chord. Now all of these voices just go outwards.

Now if you want more exotic jazz piano sounds, well I've put together a free piece of sheet music, which goes into even more exotic jazz piano sounds. You can download that for free at the link below.

And apart from that, I'm gonna hand pick the next jazz tutorial video here. So you can continue learning more jazz piano sounds that you can walk away with and use a piano today.

My name's Julian Bradley. Thank you for watching! And I'll see you in the next video.

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About the Author

Julian Bradley is a jazz pianist and music educator from the U.K. He has a masters degree in music from Bristol University, and has played with and composed for a variety of big bands.
Julian runs the popular Jazz Tutorial YouTube channel and writes educational jazz lessons at JazzTutorial.com