Jazz Piano Chords Lesson

10 Exotic Jazz Sounds PDF

Lesson Transcript

Okay, let's talk about a technique, which I call playing chord voicings as one. When I play a chord voicing, a lot of my focus is on playing every single note in that chord voicing as one, so at the exact same time. And what I don't want to happen is where you get a sort of jumbled [chord voicing]. I can always hear when a piano player isn't playing it as one and it just doesn't sound confident. So, this is one of the things I think about a lot.

So how do you practice this? Well first of all here is the technique. I’ll, first of all, find my fingers to the notes, and then I'll sort of lock of my hand, so the muscles sort of tense and I just lock it in place, and then finally I apply pressure from my arm and I just have this locked hand, which just goes downwards.

So, in slow motion find my fingers to the chord voicing, I lock my hand and then I push downwards with my wrist. Again, find my fingers to the notes, lock my hand, push downwards, find my fingers to the notes, lock my hand, push downwards. And that's what I'm doing, every single chord. You want it to be played as one.

Okay, so let's talk about rippling chords. Rippling chords is an essential jazz piano technique. It adds sophistication to all of your playing. Basically play it from bottom notes and you arpeggiate it upwards but you do it very quickly like this.

Now, any chord can be rippled, but it certainly works better for the more interesting chords, sort of the bigger chord voicings, especially if you're playing with two hands, rather than if you're just playing a seventh chord, it's not very effective. So use your rippling for the bigger chords, but you don't want to do it on every chord. In fact, I would always alternate between playing a chord all at once and then rippling and then playing all at once again. Or you could do it the other way around. To ripple a chord, you're basically doing this with your hand. It's like doing one of those wave things. So, it's more in your hands and your wrists than it is your fingers, but to practice it you just want to find any chord voicing, just practice rippling it. And change, and change, and change. And change.

Lesson Resources

Get clarity on jazz piano chord symbols - V7sus4, Cm6, C/Db...

The Ultimate Chord Symbol Guide

7 Chord Progressions

7 Sweet Chord Progressions sheet music

5 Jazz Piano Endings

5 Jazz Piano Endings sheet music

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